This week, we’re shining the spotlight on Milanda McGinnis, Dance Project’s Assistant School Director and an instructor in our studio. Milanda is a Knoxville, TN native where she began her dance training at a young age. She holds a B.F.A in Theater with a concentration in Dance from the University of Memphis. Since relocating to Greensboro she has performed with Cyrus Art Production, as well as several seasons with SugarFoote Productions under the direction of Robin Gee. She is a performer with Joyemovement Dance Company. Milanda has been commissioned for several dances for area performing arts high schools, showcases for local artists, community events and festivals throughout North Carolina and Tennessee, and is a sought after teacher and performer as well. Among other things, Milanda teaches Dance Project’s Afro-Contemporary dance class on Wednesday nights.
How did you first get involved with Dance Project?
MM: I got involved with DP when I dropped by for a ballet class. I had danced with the then School Director, Elizabeth Christopher, in a company and mentioned to her that I wish there was an Afro Contemporary class I could take. A week or two later she asked me if I would be interested in teaching it.
What sparked your interest in Afro-Contemporary dance?
MM: I danced with Sugarfoote Productions when I arrived in Greensboro and I love the way the Director, Robin Gee mixed contemporary with traditional West African movement. I also LOVE the music!
Tell us more about your Afro-Contemporary class.
MM: My Afro-Contemporary class is funky. For example, there is a lot Nigerian pop music on the playlist. You might hear Rick Ross featured on a song with a Nigerian artist just like we’ll be doing traditional African steps then slide into American hip hop with some island hip action. I’m mixing all the Diaspora up into a fun class that will make you sweat. Bring water, bring a friend ( or 3), and a great attitude. I promise you’ll have fun.
What other styles of dance do you teach/enjoy?
MM: I also teach the adult Jazz I/II class ( super fun, you should try it) Hip Hop, Modern, and Teen and Adult Performance Companies. I enjoy performing Modern, West African, Afro-Contemp, Jazz, and Hip hop.
What is your favorite part about being the Assistant School Director for Dance Project?
MM: Doing my part to make classes enjoyable for our students and fun for our staff to teach. I also really enjoy the outreach and making sure our community knows how cool we are.
Did you always want to be a dancer growing up?
MM: I did! I knew I loved dance the first time I saw it at a very early age, and it’s always been a huge part of my life. My Mom taps, a lot of my friends dance, I’m always dancing. I feel very blessed to be doing something that I love all the time. You can catch currently catch me performing with JOYEMOVEMENT Dance Company right here in Greensboro!
Check out the video below for a taste of Milanda’s class. Video was from a recent First Friday celebration in downtown Greensboro!