Arts & Culture

Meet This Artist: Dance Studio Owner Ebony Grissett-Delgado

by Rachel Flanagan, Chatham Arts Council

Some people discover their passion later in life, and some fall into it from a young age. Ebony Grissett Delgado, the owner of Chatham Dance Connection, has been dancing her whole life. We invite you to learn more about this talented dancer and small business owner!

Chatham Arts Council: Tell me about yourself.

I’m Carolina born and raised. I was raised in Brunswick County, in a town called Shallotte, near Holden Beach. I came this way when I went to college at UNC Chapel Hill. Once I graduated college, I stayed here — I love being here in central North Carolina. I had a baby, got married, had more babies. Together, my husband and I have six kids; he had two and I had one when we got married, and then we had three more together. They all have danced pretty much their whole lives. 

CAC: Have you always been a dancer?

Yes! I’ve always loved dance. While I was in college, I was on the dance team there, the High Kickin’ Heels, and in an African-American dance group called the OPEYO! dancers. I started working as a dance teacher in the late ‘90s at Brittany’s Dance Studio. I realized that dance was what I truly loved so I stuck with it. 

CAC: Do you gravitate toward a certain style?

I love all styles of dance, but I think I’m most proficient in jazz and tap. 

CAC: Do you think dance has evolved since you started? 

It’s definitely become more diverse. When I was growing up, I was often one of the few people of color in my dance classes. As I got older, more and more kids dropped out, and I was the only girl of color. So it has definitely become more diverse as more African-American kids are getting involved in dance. I also see more Spanish-speaking kids in this area getting more involved in dance. And boys, too–it’s become less of a stigma. 

CAC: What are your thoughts on the way body image has changed in the dance world? 

I think it has changed a lot. Even my own thoughts about body image through the years have evolved. When I was a young dancer, I was very slim. I always thought that’s what a dancer body should be. Although I must say, I did have a couple of girls who danced with me growing up who did not have that stereotypical lean dance body, and they were better dancers than I was. 

With our kids at the studio, I’ve never promoted that you have to be a certain size, a certain body shape, or a certain skin color–everybody can dance. I welcome everyone into the studio. We do talk about health and nutrition, but we never focus on your size, your height, your weight, your build, none of that. None of that is an issue. 

CAC: Have you ever had kids take dance classes to help them with their balance and coordination in other sports? 

I had a high school student like that once, which made me super happy to know that he did not let that stigma about boys in dance keep him from letting dance help him with his other sport. He played football, and he came in and took some classes with us, and it definitely helped him with his balance and coordination on the football field. That was pretty cool. 

CAC: Tell me a little bit about being a small business owner in Chatham County. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of change.

Being a business owner has had its ups and downs for me, especially right now. When I first started the studio, it was difficult just trying to find a spot that was affordable and had the right amount of space that we needed.

Also, when I first started out, there weren’t other dance studios in Pittsboro. So the business grew pretty steadily for the first few years. Then Bravo Academy of Dance opened up in the North Chatham area, and then Seven Dance Center opened a few years back in downtown Pittsboro, and then Renner Dance in Cole Park. The most recent studio to open is Royal Grace, in the Chatham Downs shopping center. Then I had a friend, who started out with me at Chatham Dance Connection, open a studio in Siler City.

CAC: So the competition to keep up is intense. 

I love teaching dance. I love teaching the little ones. There’s a lot of fun for me, watching that love of dance that starts to develop when they’re small. 

Read the entire interview at