Bryanna’s love for dance was sparked as a child living in Virginia. “I wanted to be a soccer player,” she says with a laugh. But then a woman at her school nagged her to try dance. “I was about 10 or 11, uncoordinated, lanky kid. I tried it, loved it and stuck with it. I haven’t found anything else I’m more passionate about.” That first class she took was creative movement, much like the classes she now leads as a part of UGOT Active Kid’s Active Toddlers program.
That love of dance led her to earning a B.F.A. as a major in dance at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, Florida. Her studies focused primarily on ballet and modern. During her fourth year in the program, she took a semester to study in New York City and she decided to stay.
Now based in Queens, Bryanna leads Dance and Good Sport programs for UGOT Active Kids and does some prospecting work for the office. She also teaches for the non-profit, Dances for a Variable Population, and is involved with The Movement Studio, on Coney Island Avenue. Outside of dance, she loves painting, photography and reading. She is also actively choreographing and performing in New York City. So far her works have been part of various showcases and have served as prequels to the projects she’s hoping to perform “hopefully in the future. I’m excited about that. It feeds my soul.”
Where else does she find inspiration? “Kids. There’s really something amazing they have and can grow into. A sense of imagination and creativity that’s inactive in adults.” Bryanna discovered her love for teaching when she started subbing at the age of 16 for her teacher in her home studio. Now teaching with UGOT Active Kids, she gets to explore that source of inspiration regularly. “I love when kids have free space to be whoever they want to be. I love teaching them and learning from them.”
And what makes UGOT’s programming specifically great? “With UGOT Active Kids, I get an array for kids: no experience with dance, lots of experience with dance, kids with special needs . . . It’s great it’s not limited.” She also points out that the UGOT Active Kids instructors “Meet the school at the time and place they need. It makes it accessible, especially when funding for arts and programs that gets kids creative isn’t there.”
Bryanna enjoys the journey she gets to go on along with her students in the classes she leads. Each day “it’s open to how they want to go. We’ll go to the zoo or under the sea. We explore places and lifestyles they may not see in New York City. I try to run with it, keep them active and having fun. I love the journey of it all.”
- What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am a tea enthusiast!
- If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be? Ireland
- If you could live anyplace, where would that be? Here, NYC of course!
- What languages do you speak? Unfortunately just English, but I am currently learning some Russian for a primarily Russian speaking studio I teach for.
- What your favourite thing about teaching dance to kids? The places there imagination takes them! I love exploring and nurturing there sometimes outrageous ideas!
- Who or what inspires you? Everyday people, I have my dance figure inspirations, but mostly the kids I teach and the everyday life that turns around me.
- What’s your favourite food? Sweet potatoes – thrilled that we are almost in November!
- What is your least favourite exercise? Ugh, to run.
- What is your favourite thing to do in your free time? Journal, drink tea, paint, being silly with friends and family.
- Does dancing run in your family? For lack of a better way to say it, I get my moves from my mama! Although, I would encourage the idea that people are capable of dancing no matter their background.
Interview and Article by Jeanette Hedley