Dancing to a Different Beat

Tanya Boyd’s mission to teach manners and etiquette has blossomed into so much more—and it’s wildly popular

More than 400 students regularly attend each dance hosted by Tanya Boyds Heirs & Graces organization.

ILA Staff

More than 400 students regularly attend each dance hosted by Tanya Boyd’s Heirs & Graces organization.

Faith Chatraw, Features Writer

Dancing has always been a part of Tanya Boyd’s life. The South African native grew up watching her parents dance in the lounge of their house, providing fun entertainment for her and her siblings.

“Us children used to spy on them from behind the sofa until our giggling gave us away and we were marched back to our bedrooms,” Boyd said. “My father was quite the romantic.”

Boyd even danced competitively as a teenager before her life took a turn in a different direction.

After Boyd got married, she and her husband moved from South Africa to California, and from there, to Idaho. She was bothered to find that her children’s friends lacked refinement.

“Instead of complaining and despairing, I looked to see how I could be a part of the solution and change the culture in a positive way,” said Boyd, who teaches a cotillion class at ILA.

So she came up with a solution, one that involved the ability to use what she was passionate about to teach manners and etiquette: dancing. Even though Boyd started out only teaching a small group of homeschoolers, it wouldn’t stop there. Eventually, her idea of teaching kids how to dance would evolve into something huge. Boyd named her organization Heirs & Graces, hosting six dances ever year, each one attended by more than 400 people.

“The funny thing is, I never even had those aspirations. I think that the Lord took something small that I was faithful in and grew it into something much greater than just dancing.”

Tanya Boyd’s daughter, Alana Lorenz, loved helping her mom teach cotillion when she was younger. She was always a mini helper and enrolled in all of her classes. At the age of sixteen, she became so passionate about dancing, she decided to teach her own Junior Cotillion class at her former co-op. 

“I fell in love with the idea of ladylike behavior, the idea of a man treating me with respect and honor,” Lorenz said.

Working together, Boyd and Lorenz were able to create a wonderful environment for kids to enjoy, all while building character.

“I would say it gives me more of a view of just letting loose, having fun, and not caring about what other people think,” said Kennedy McNeese, one of the teens who consistently attends the dances. “You can be comfortable around anyone.”

Although the dances were designed on purpose not to be romantic, quite a few marriages have evolved from them, and many friendships have been made.

Konrad Ferch, who regularly attends the dances, said that aside from helping with his footwork the events also help him “talk to people and get in conversations more easily.”

“One of the things I will always enjoy seeing is smiling, happiness, and laughter,” Lorenz said. “When I watch people dance they could be doing every step incorrectly, but will have the biggest, goofiest smile ever, laughing with their friends and enjoying something that’s clean and good. I’ve heard many people say that they look forwards to our events purely because it’s somewhere they can just have fun. No pressure, no gossip, no stress, just fun.”

When Boyd and Lorenz began Heirs & Graces, they were only teaching a few basic dances, such as the waltz, foxtrot, and some simple swing dances. They never imagined it would grow into something so wildly popular.

“When Heirs & Graces started all those years ago, it was tiny,” Lorenz said. “It was a class of maybe twenty to twenty-five students.”

But the Lord had better plans.

“God took the reins and ran with it,” Lorenz said. “We’re so blessed to be doing what we do. We love our jobs, we love the kids who come to our events, and no matter how big we get, we will always try and learn everyone’s names. But we will always pull it back to our events being a vehicle to teach young adults manners, etiquette and social graces. We leave our events with full hearts and tired feet.”

(To learn more about upcoming dances, visit the Heirs & Graces Facebook page.)