Anyone who has ever taken a dance class knows how fun and challenging it can be, and that the right teacher can make all the difference. We chatted up Gina Danene Thompson
, a true jack-of-all-trades in the dance world, to see what life was like as a pro dancer, instructor and creative director.
Becoming a teacher? It’s a process.
When she was four-years-old, Gina began dancing in creative movement classes taught by her mother, and her passion for dance took off. Along the way, she graduated from Central Michigan University and San Francisco City College of Dance. In her twenties, Gina decided to head to California, where she worked as a professional dancer and instructor.
She eventually returned home to Michigan where she continued to teach and train students. Her experiences lead her to create her own dance company. PURe (Project Universal Reflection) has been incredibly successful in Ann Arbor Michigan, thanks to Gina’s passion.
“When a student gets it, it’s the look on their face. My mentor always said that too, but I didn’t get it until I was a teacher,” Gina says.
She’s inspired by everything around her.
Although her inspirational nature as an instructor is obvious, Gina gets just as much as she gives. While fellow professional dancers like Martha Graham and Twyla Tharp are on her list, she draws inspiration from art and architecture, parents, her students, “really, anyone who walks through the door,” she says.
Dance is for every body—even if you don’t wanna teach.
In a profession that can have strict guidelines about appearances, Gina doesn’t discriminate, rather she recognizes her students for their talent rather than their size.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall, heavy or super skinny. Dance is a beautiful thing for all bodies,” Gina says.
She is quick to list all of the ways dance can benefit people, even if they don’t plan to pursue it as a career. Discipline, body control, a positive self-image, confidence, and better health and posture, are some of the reasons Gina feels dance is such an important art. Above all, Gina feels that students should focus on the benefits dance provides and never be discouraged.
“Sometimes you walk into a classroom and you’re the best dancer in the world. Sometimes you’re not. The whole process is beautiful, and it’s about working toward that beauty.”
Love that—thanks, Gina for taking time to chat with us!