'Rock the Block' dance company gets REO Town space after months outdoors

·3 min read
Tiffany Nordé talks about a mural depicting her family at the new Rock the Block Studio on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town. Artist Keyon Lovett painted the mural.
Tiffany Nordé talks about a mural depicting her family at the new Rock the Block Studio on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town. Artist Keyon Lovett painted the mural.

After more than a year hosting dance classes in parking lots and beneath overpasses, Tiffany and David Nordé are taking their operation indoors.

The couple became known during the pandemic for their Rock the Block dance events, informal classes held beneath the Shiawassee Street Bridge or in a REO Town parking lot on Mondays. Tiffany, a Zumba instructor, started the events after losing her job at the onset of the pandemic.

Now, their company, Dancing With the Nordés, is opening a permanent studio in REO Town. After an invite-only soft opening this weekend, they'll open Rock the Block Studio to the public at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6 at 1202 S. Washington Ave.

Now, Tiffany said, the "weather doesn't have to dictate whether we have class or not."

A former cannabis dispensary, the new space features a double-secured entrance, a main studio and a back room visible through a pass-through window that the couple turned into a kids' area. Tiffany especially loved the pass-through room, since summertime clients often struggled to find babysitters and ended up skipping classes.

The new space will also allow the couple to expand its offerings beyond Detroit-style ballroom and urban line dancing. They intend to offer Zumba, hip-hop cycling and private lessons. All classes are $15 except cycling, taught by David, which is $20.

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A kids area inside the new Rock the Block Studio photographed on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.
A kids area inside the new Rock the Block Studio photographed on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.

Tiffany was helped along the way through Lansing Area Economic Partnership's One and All entrepreneurial boot camp, which she finished in March. In that program, she was connected with a business mentor, J.P. Buckingham, chief operating officer at the environmental consulting firm Triterra. Buckingham helped Tiffany restructure her business plan, lent advice on budgeting, helped her find the space and got her in touch with a lawyer along the way.

"I've been able to really make connections for her," Buckingham said. "That was the big thing I provided for her with feedback on things you may or may not know."

Tiffany aggressively sought out grants to fund the space. She secured money from both LEAP and Ingham County, which awarded her a $5,000 Sunrise Small Business grant this fall.

Tiffany Nordé walks through the new Rock the Block Studio on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.
Tiffany Nordé walks through the new Rock the Block Studio on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.

Tiffany also enrolled in a new six-month entrepreneurship program through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The program was started last year as a way to funnel support to Black business owners who missed out on Paycheck Protection Program loans.

At the onset of that program, Tiffany received a $5,000 grant from the Coalition to Back Black Businesses. Halfway through, to award her attendance at classes, office hours and other sessions, she was one of 25 picked out of 300 for another $25,000 in October. That sum ultimately allowed her to lease the space in REO Town.

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The logo outside the new Rock the Block Studio photographed on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.
The logo outside the new Rock the Block Studio photographed on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.

"That particular grant program gave me the depth of knowledge on what questions to ask, the research to help me with my financials," Tiffany said. "Because of the mentorship programs, that's why I am here today."

David, who also works as an assistant director in MSU's financial aid office, said all plaudits should go to Tiffany.

"This is my wife's dream," he said.

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The couple hopes their new location encourages more people to explore REO Town's retail and dining offerings.

The entrance of the new Rock the Block Studio photographed on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.
The entrance of the new Rock the Block Studio photographed on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Lansing's REO Town.

Buckingham said it helps that the Nordés' studio is in a walkable part of town.

"REO Town is growing and becoming a destination spot like Old Town," Buckingham said. "Her business fits in and she's taking a building that's not been used and taking up shop. There's a yoga shop, several other places all along the block, and I think it'll work out for her."

Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at (517) 267-1344 or knurse@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: 'Rock the Block' dance company gets new REO Town space

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