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For the love of dance


November 06, 2017

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 “The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”

ā€• Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness   

 

I can’t think of a more appropriate quote to describe Mathyn Miller, who owns Technique Dance Company on Northside Drive in Statesboro.  From the moment I walked in the doors of her studio it felt like we were catching up as friends instead of making a first impression.  There is something genuine in her character, and the more she revealed about herself in our interview, it became clear that her free spirit and authenticity have played the biggest roles in her success story. Miller started dancing at the age of 3 under the watchful eye of her mother, who owned a dance studio in Millen, Georgia. Six days a week for 23 years, she has devoted her life to the art.

“I feel like the time I’ve put in is a big factor for my inspiration. Overall, I knew that dance was always my passion. Even throughout middle and high school when people would ask me what my career was going to be I would say, ‘I’m gonna dance. That’s it.’”

After explaining this, Miller was able to laugh confidently about her dream of being a dancer because she didn’t stop pushing until it became a reality. Aside from her solo performances, she singlehandedly choreographed an entire show at GSU for Chicago, and she has been teaching dance since age 16. Now she teaches around 80 students, ages 3-21, from the comfort of her own studio. She offers ballet, point, lyrical and contemporary, jazz, tap and hip hop. If none of those get you on your toes, she has a class called Turn Stretch Conditioning, which is mostly just cardio with leaps, turns and jumps (she made it sound so easy).

“Growing up in my mom’s studio played a huge role in my success. She taught me the business side of owning a school, and all the little things that go along with it. She basically handed down the business to me and now she teaches my baby classes. I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. We’re the only two teachers here, so it is like a mother/daughter thing. We want it to feel like a family when our students come because that’s what it is to us.”

No doubt that with the support of her family members, Miller has turned her company into a humble abode – a safe place that allows dancers to connect and show how they feel.

“We want our students to recognize that sense of closeness and become part of it,” she said. 

This mindset is the foundation for more than just her style of teaching. Miller puts that same foot forward when picking songs and choreographing her routines. She incorporates her personal style into each move, straying away from the typical cookie cutter routines that you see on mainstream TV shows. For Miller, the steps are original, never copied.

“It’s interesting, because hardly any of my ideas come from when I’m in the studio. Most of the time it is just a random connection to a song. I might hear something by Sia, or Florence and the Machine, then I’ll just sit and listen. If I connect to it, I can go from there. I generally don’t write many things down. If I have to think about the next step then it becomes less authentic. I would rather feel it in the moment and go along with what the song is saying. In that sense, it’s easier for me to explain to my students what I felt when I was choreographing it. I can open their eyes to what they feel when they hear the music and that is one of the most important parts of the process,” she said.

Operating under this motif helps to showcase dance as an art, and a way to escape your outside problems.

“What I tell most of my kids is when you get in here, you’re doing it for the love of dance, and just moving how you feel,” she added.

What makes this studio and its owner so unique is that the expression of self takes precedence over competition. Miller teachers that when dance is the medium, you can let a lot of stuff go simply by putting your emotion into it. Through styles like lyrical and contemporary, students are able to exercise that freedom of expression and stay true to their “weird” selves. For Miller, the bigger the group, the better the performance.

“Group routines get the effect across more,” she said.

Having this mentality has certainly kept a ring of authenticity around her students as they climb in number.

While Miller has made leaps and bounds in her career, the best is yet to come. She is hoping to expand by next year.

“We need more space because right now I’m operating out of just this one floor. Hopefully one day I’ll build a studio. The ultimate goal is to build from the ground up and have it to be mine,” she said.

Whatever the case may be, there is one thing about Miller that will guide her in the right direction, and that is her ability to remain true to herself. With a strong support system behind her and a bright future ahead, the world waits patiently for her next move. 


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