FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Paul Herman might not remember his first dance performance, but his mother certainly does.
“My mom told me she was trying to change my diaper and I was dancing — to Michael Jackson,” he said with a wide grin. “To ‘Beat It.’”
And more than 30 years later, he’s still dancing — only now it’s at Double Up Dance Studio, the Fairfield facility he opened Sunday with his brother, Brian.
The pair started dancing together as kids growing up in the South Bronx. They had their first true performance in the backyard of their grandmother’s Teller Avenue home.
“It was just a love and a passion we had,” said Paul. “And that was the first time people thought we were serious. It wasn’t just ‘aww, they’re little boys dancing. They’re cute.’”
Double Up Dance Studio is a dream come true for the brothers, who have toured the United States and Europe, dancing with the likes of Alicia Keys, Chris Brown and Kat DeLuna.
They were teaching and performing throughout Fairfield County before opening a much smaller studio at the Sportsplex on Mill Plain Road two years ago. The location was fine, but the brothers knew they need more space to expand their business and really give their space their signature style.
To that end, the pair designed and built the facility, in large part using the skills Brian gained earning his electrical engineering degree at Fairfield University. Paul, who holds a marketing degree from Sacred Heart University, provides the get-the-word-out know-how that brings children, teens and adults to their daily classes.
“They’re really good teachers,” said Rochelle Deckelbaum, catching her breath after an intermediate hip hop class Monday. “Not every teacher can get a group of moms to do what just happened here.”
While they specialize in hip hop and contemporary dance, the Hermans want the space to be a welcoming haven for dancers of all styles. The class lineup includes ballet, salsa and cardio blast and a top-flight Irish step dancer has been using one of the smaller studios to practice.
The Hermans, who both live in Stratford, say they love working together and combining their skills to succeed.
“When we first became business owners we didn’t know, but you need the two of us to make this thing work,” Paul said.
Brian, who is hard of hearing, said his disability has made dancing a challenge, but it has also provided him with a positive outlet.
“Dancing is a very good way to express how you feel about life,” he said. “We’re trying to take it to the next level.”
Double Up Dance Studio is at 85 Mill Plain Road, Building P. The studio is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information on classes, visit www.doubleupdancestudio.com .