Tuition-free dance program in Summerville now accepting applications

Christina Vandiver

The Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy is an afterschool outreach program of the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities that offers pre-professional dance training to students in 5th-9th grade

Since 2018, the Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy has served students with a passion for dance through pre-professional training in classical ballet, modern, and other dance techniques. The afterschool outreach program of the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities is now accepting applications from beginner and intermediate female and male students in 5th through 9th grade seeking to build their performance skills, physical strength, and self-confidence while making friends in the dance community.

Most LYDA students dream of becoming professional dancers while others love the expressive art form and do it just for fun. “And that’s okay,” said Sarah Walborn, LYDA chair. “As long as they are passionate and committed, we want them to enjoy this experience and make meaningful connections with other dancers while learning the basic foundational techniques.”

Caolin Witherspoon, from Summerville, joined LYDA in 2018 to increase her training after her teacher at Marrington Middle School of the Arts suggested the program. “I had a little dance training from my school, but no ballet experience,” said Witherspoon. “The LYDA program was very helpful, and I improved a lot during my two years there. The staff were really supportive.”

With her gained skills and interest in becoming a professional ballerina, Witherspoon was accepted as a sophomore into the rigorous high school dance program at the Governor’s School.

“These dancers really show extraordinary growth during their experience in LYDA,” said Josée Garant, Governor’s School dance department chair. “While some of them have been accepted into our summer intensive or high school dance program, many choose other paths, and we’re very supportive of that.”

As a part of the Governor’s School’s mission to serve students and teachers throughout South Carolina, regional programs like LYDA provide dedicated resources that support arts education and foster community connections in a specific area. LYDA is funded by the donors of the Governor’s School Foundation.

The LYDA program serves approximately 20 students each year, who can continue in the program through the 9th grade. Classes are taught by Governor’s School faculty and meet four times a week. Tuition is free after a one-time $75 registration fee, and financial assistance is available. Anyone interested in attending during the 2021-2022 school year should apply by March 22 to audition virtually on March 27. Visit for details.