ABOUT COFFEMILL DANCE STUDIO
Two NEW beautiful locations! Three dance spaces!
Old Town at The Annex (Studio A & Studio B) - 804 White Street
New Town at By the Bay - 3340 N Roosevelt Blvd. #2
We have brand new state of the art sprung floor with a
high quality multipurpose marley in both spaces!
We look forward to seeing you in class!
GREAT NEWS!!! WE MOVED The Annex studio to 804 White Street! This NEW SPACE has room for 2 studios, free parking, it is still in Old Town, and we will be able to host more dance events for the community!
The Coffee Mill Dance Studio has been teaching all styles of dance to Key Westers and visitors since 1983. We offer professional dance and fitness instruction to all ages and skill levels year round with weekly classes in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Lyrical, HipHop, Creative Movement, Towards Ballet & Hippity Hop (for our tiniest dancers), Musical Theatre, Bellydance, Afro Caribbean Dance, Yoga, Zumba®, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Aerial Arts and Pole Fitness Training.
Celebrating 39 years of dance excellence, The CoffeeMill Dance Studio strives to provide a fun and encouraging learning environment through quality instruction and a varied class schedule. Whether you have been dancing for years, are just starting out, are looking to get back into it, or are just looking for a fun alternative to your normal workout routine there is a class for you!
A cultural haven in the dance community, director Penny Leto says, “You never know which talented artists are going to walk through our doors!”
We also offer private lessons, dance workshops, intensives, dance camps, choreography services, birthday parties, performance opportunities and wedding dance instruction.
The CoffeeMill Dance Studio proudly presents their Annual Spring Dance Concert DanceWorks! featuring students and faculty May 21 and 22, 2022 at the Tennessee Williams Theatre. Children enrolled in the dance program will have the opportunity to perform in this special dance concert and bring together the best work produced by students, faculty, and professional dancers as they collaborate on an astounding celebration of dance. Treat your family to some great LIVE homegrown dance!
About the Old CoffeeMill
Home of the CoffeeMill Dance Studio from 1983-2016
CoffeeMill Dance Studio:
Three decades of dance in a century-old landmark
By MANDY MILES Citizen Staff
Decades before the smell of fried chicken characterized the intersection of Truman Avenue and White Street, the neighborhood was filled with a different but equally recognizable aroma. The unmistakable scent of roasting coffee emanated from a corrugated tin building on nearby Pohalski Lane and hovered in the humidity.
For a half-century, from 1912 through the 1960s, the Triumph Coffee Mill roasted and packaged American- and Cuban-style coffee in the tin building that still shows signs of its pungent origins.
Roasting machinery, now antique, still hangs from an interior ceiling of what is now the CoffeeMill Dance Studio, and owner Penny Leto has strategically placed relics of the old roasting machinery around the building's perimeter, providing glimpses into a bygone era.
"This is all the original tin and original wooden windows and doors," said Leto, who installed the award-winning dance studio in the old coffee mill in 1983. "The library records show that the building was built in 1912 - 100 years ago."
In addition to the building's centennial, Leto has another reason to celebrate: Her business was recently named Florida's Best Dance Studio by Florida Monthly Magazine, which publishes an annual list of readers' choice awards. CoffeeMill's class calendar offers a wide variety of classes for all levels, including ballet, modern dance, Zumba, hip hop and even belly-dancing.
A Bronx native, Leto arrived in Key West in 1977 with a degree in dance and dance education. She worked first as a maid at the Pier House Resort, then as a teacher for Wesley House before teaching ballet, modern dance and Afro-modern dance in the New School on Duck Avenue.
She began renting studio space in the old coffee mill in 1983.
"The building was a coffee mill until the 1960s and then became a woodworking shop," she recalled, looking around at the high ceilings and original wood floors. "I knew the owner of the shop, a guy named Jerry, and I always told him I'd turn the building into a dance studio if he ever wanted to get rid of it."
Leto got her chance in 1983, when the woodworkers cleared out and she was able to rent the building, with its giant wood-framed windows designed to capture any elusive breeze.
Leto bought the building in 1985 and renovated it about five years later, keeping the original wood and tin, but adding an air-conditioned office/lobby in the rear. She permanently shuttered the wooden windows on one side of the building and installed a wall of mirrors for the dancers.
"We took the mirrors from the old upstairs bordello of the Blue Heaven building, and we got them from the old Woolco department store here in Key West," Leto said. "Back then I called it the CoffeeMill Cultural Center."
The studio offered all types of dance and exercise classes for adults.
"Back then, the town was so transient. We'd have a ballerina in town for a week or two, so she'd come by and teach classes while she was here," Leto said, recalling the aerobics craze that hit Key West - and the rest of the country - in the 1980s.
"I started teaching a lot of aerobics," she said. "People who had never danced before would come in for aerobics classes and end up signing up for ballet or modern dance. My goal has always been to just spread dance."
And she has.
An estimated 300 dancers pirouette, leap and shimmy their way through the studio every year. You do the math. That's more than 8,000 students moving across the weathered wooden floor since 1983.
Leto began offering children's classes about 10 years ago, when her own daughter was old enough to learn the ballet positions.
"I just love this place," she said. "It's my heart and soul." Leto runs the studio, but has several other instructors who work as independent contractors teaching everything from ballet and tap to kickboxing and Zumba.
"I don't feel like a boss, but I do care about the level of dance we offer, and every year we get better," she said, emphasizing the studio's hospitality toward new and beginner students. "All my teachers are used to having dancers of all levels in their classes, and I don't allow intimidation. We're all humble and respectful of all levels."
Leto simply wants everyone to experience dance in some way during their life. She recently attained her instructor certification to teach Zumba, the Latin workout that combines easy dance steps with a calorie-burning and strength-training workout.
"The more dance, the better. I just want everyone to fall in love with movement and dance," she said, as a teacher called out instructions amid the soft thuds and skids of dance shoes moving over time-softened wood.
The smell of roasting coffee no longer pours from the old tin building, but the CoffeeMill Dance Studio has made its own mark on the neighborhood, churning out something different, but just as powerful.