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Meet Diana Ford of Miami Arts Charter School’s Dance Department in Wynwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Ford.

Diana, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a professional dancer in Miami, I worked in both commercial and concert dance industries. I was a full-time company dancer with Miami Contemporary Dance Company in Miami Beach for seven years while also working as a regular freelance dancer for Univision on shows such as Sabado Gigante, Cristina, and El Gordo y La Flaca, among others. With the company, I performed regular concert dance seasons and went on tour to Argentina and Italy, and with the freelance commercial work I performed, I was lucky enough to dance alongside artists such as Pitbull, Willy Chirino, and David Bisbal, among many others. Over time, my back started to feel the effects of dancing full time, and I began teaching at Miami Dancity Studios near my home instead of continuing the commercial work. I remained with Miami Contemporary Dance Company as long as possible before deciding to transition into a full-time position as assistant artistic director at the studio where I was teaching part-time. Although I missed dancing, I felt great happiness teaching younger generations of dancers and instilling in them the same values that my teachers instilled in me. I taught, choreographed, and coached for the studio’s competition team, which was essentially the core group of dancers who performed and participated in several events in addition to dance classes.

While teaching, I began to guest choreograph for a friend I’d made during my time in the commercial dance industry, Valerie Barreiro. She was the dance director of a new performing arts charter school in Miami and wanted to give her students every opportunity she could to help them develop artistically through a conservatory setting dance education and maximum exposure to guest teachers and choreographers. I came in for two to three weeks a year, for three years, to create works for their Spring Dance Concerts. I worked with the younger dancers in middle school, all the way through high school. I admired the culture she created within the dancers at the school, always eager to learn and further their dance education in the hopes of continuing their path onto the professional dance field.

Eventually, I began substituting for her while still helping direct the studio full time, as well as coaching young dancers for high school and college auditions every season. I joined the National Dance Education Organization and its Florida branch, FDEO (Florida Dance Education Organization) to continue furthering my abilities and strengthening my connections as a dance educator.

Last school year, Valerie informed me of an opening for a teacher in the dance department, and I jumped at the opportunity. It was a difficult decision to leave Miami Dancity where I spent nine years training and coaching dancers, but I knew this opportunity was one I wouldn’t come by as easily again. I began teaching alongside Valerie as her assistant director, and am finishing my second year in the program. I love working with the students and helping them reach their goals and aspirations into future generations of dance.

Most recently, I’ve been promoted to MAC dance program director at the Wynwood campus with Valerie’s blessing and recommendation as she pursues an administrative position within the Miami Arts Charter family. In my spare time, I still enjoy independent work through my business, Diana Ford Dance. I guest teach throughout South Florida, coaching and choreographing for young dancers looking to further develop their technical and artistic skills. I have also had the pleasure of judging dance competitions and creating new works for dancers both local and abroad.

Recently, I joined the board of Miami Dance Hub, a multi-faceted resource organization seeking to provide a networking center for dance artists in the Miami dance community. This summer, I’ll be guest teaching at several local studios and be attaining my certification in a new training method for dancers, Progressing Ballet Technique. I’m looking forward to a productive summer meeting new dancers and fellow educators and expanding my knowledge to help train dancers more effectively.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s never an easy road, no matter which path you take. In the beginning, juggling the commercial dance world with the concert dance world, and teaching in the evenings left no room for error… and no time to catch my breath. Through it all, I tried to remind myself that every opportunity leads to the next, and as much as I wanted to cut back and relax, the results of the work were always worth it.

Please tell us about Miami Arts Charter School’s Dance Department.
Throughout my 20+ years of experience in the dance community as a student, then professional, and now an educator, I’ve learned that exploring, creating, and inspiring future generations is key to continuing to keep the art of dance alive. We continue to motivate each other and work together to create a living, breathing art, that moves us in different ways. I’d like to say that is my specialty: the ability to explore new ideas, create meaningful work, and inspire future generations of dancers to do the same.

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