• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS grad returns to Simmons Elementary for Arts Day

WCHS SENIOR Trace Miller gave Simmons Elementary School second-grader DaeJa’Nae Carter an opportunity to play a snare drum during Arts Day on Nov. 21. Guest artists, including professionals and students from Woodford County middle and high schools, introduced students to a variety of performing and visual arts. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

DUNCAN KING, a former student at Simmons Elementary, returned for Arts Day on Nov. 21. The 2010 Woodford County High School graduate makes his living as a ballroom dancer and instructor. He returned to Versailles last March after spending two years in Los Angeles. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Professional ballroom dancer and instructor Duncan King, who graduated from Woodford County High School in 2010, returned to Simmons Elementary School for Arts Day on Nov. 21.

He and other guest artists got to share their talent, and more importantly their enthusiasm for the performing and visual arts with students throughout the day.

“The kids need to see how they can use art as a job or something they can pursue (professionally) – as opposed to just something (they can do) for fun,” said King, 25.

“Because this is the only thing I do. This is my full-time job.” King, who earned a degree in corporate communications at the University of Kentucky, said his parents invited him to his first dance class, “which I didn’t even want to go to.”

About a month into taking lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Lexington, King discovered a love for dance and was offered a job as a dance instructor about six years ago.

“Since then,” he said, “I’ve been teaching, competing. I just got back from a competition in Las Vegas. I’ve been out to L.A. and worked with a studio that does a lot with ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ And so it’s just been nonstop dancing and teaching…”

Ironically, King, who returned to Versailles last March after spending two years in Los Angeles, said he ended up teaching his parents at Arthur Murray Dance Studio. Now, even his grandma takes dance lessons.

Having struggled with his weight in childhood, King credits dance for helping him lose 60 pounds.

“It happened naturally,” he said of his weight loss before later describing dancing as “fantastic exercise.”

King said the performing arts have been in his life since he was a kid growing up in Versailles. He performed onstage with Woodford Theatre and played saxophone with WCHS band, before being introduced to dance. “So I did music for 10 years before I ever did dancing. It was a great precursor,” he explained, “because everything is still based on music – understanding the rhythm and the beat of the music. And then understanding how your body works with (the music). Then it’s telling your body to do something as opposed to an instrument.”

King said he teaches all forms of ballroom dance including foxtrot, quickstep, tango, swing and his personal favorite.

“I love waltz,” he explained, “just because it’s so elegant. But dancing is kind of based on your mood. It’s like with songs. You have a different song (and a different dance) for different feelings.”

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