Pearland dance studio credits 'DWTS' for helping change lives

PEARLAND, TX (KTRK) -- Dance studios across the country are reaping the benefits of the popularity of 'Dancing with the Stars.' Enrollment in dance classes is up but at one studio in Pearland, it's not about the money; it's about touching lives.

"It's my passion," says Merlyn Arment.

Just like the stars on the show, all of the dancers we met at Fred Astaire Dance Studio Tuesday, including Merlyn Arment, have a story.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago," she says. "That's why it keeps me motivated to dance more, to dance better. Because life is short."

Rhonda Leaverton dances to manage symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

"When I'm dancing, I feel like I don't have anything. And other times I'm kind of stiff and move really slow," Leaverton shares. "So it really helps to dance because it trains my muscles and they automatically do what they're supposed to do."

And it has revitalized Mike and Tabatha Ketner's marriage. At 22 years in, they are stronger than ever.

"It gives us a chance to be close to one another, actually have more physical contact outside the home," mike Ketner tells us.

"It's more intimacy, more interaction between the two of us then just sitting into chairs watching TV or a movie screen," Tabatha Ketner adds.

Perhaps one of the biggest things "Dancing with the Stars" has done is show people that anyone can learn the basics of ballroom dancing. Businesses like Fred Astaire Dance Studios have reaped the financial benefits.

"Since 'Dancing with the Stars' started, which is a great thank you to ABC for doing it, it's increased an interest in dance for all people, young to older generations," says Olga Elsbury.

Olga Elsbury and her husband John own Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Clear Lake, and recently opened a second location in at Pearland Town Center.

"Waking by, they see it and say do you teach the 'Dancing with the Stars' stuff? Yes we do. Come on in and do it," John Elsbury explains.

They say business is booming thanks to the show and they hope it stays around for a few more years.

John Elsbury says 50 more would be good.
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