“They enter as artists, and dance is their clay, their paintbrush,” says Mila Parrish, the UNCG dance professor responsible for the free dance classes that will culminate in a recital, sans elaborate costumes, for the dancers, ages 7-11. “This is all about developing a full understanding of the ways we look at dance from a place of creating dance.”
Parrish started the program, Dancers Connect, while on the faculty at the University of South Carolina, where it continues to thrive. As a new faculty member in UNCG’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, she wanted to launch a sister program in Greensboro.
Parrish enlisted graduate and undergraduate students to help, and recruited dance teachers and students through the Guilford County Schools. The first 10-week session kicked off in January, with 26 dancers enjoying two-hour classes every Saturday in the HHP Building.
Dancers Connect offers students an experience above what they get at most dance studios, beyond the standard ballet, tap and jazz, Parrish says. These kids aren’t just learning steps and memorizing routines — they are creating their dances.
Bria Powell, a sophomore earning a BFA with teaching licensure, volunteers with Dancers Connect. Coming from a performing arts high school, Powell knows first-hand the value of dance education. Delanie Merchant, an exchange student visiting from Australia, is studying education back home. She wants to integrate the creative arts into her teaching. Like Merchant, sophomore Anthony Taylor plans to teach children. Dancers Connect, he says, is a great way for him to get valuable experience. Emily Ellis-Liang, a graduate student who helps Parrish oversee Dancers Connect, wants to start her own dance studio.
By Michelle Hines
Photograph by David Wilson
Full story at UNCG Now.