The Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA) opened its doors for the first time in 2002 with three arts disciplines – theatre, vocal, and visual art. Over the years, new programs were added in literary, media and dance. In 2008, MSA welcomed its first dance majors into the student body. Regardless of the discipline of study, MSA students learn how to imagine, create, and realize their own success through the creative process and hard work in their studies. In dance and theatre, MSA students have learned how to perform, direct, choreograph, teach, and work in production. The responsibility, organization, and creativity required to graduate from these programs has been consistent. It is not for the faint of heart, but incredibly rewarding.
After students graduate MSA, many attend college to expand their arts education. After twenty years, MSA is seeing the seeds planted now coming to fruition. On November 15, MSA hosted a dance festival with the Mississippi Dance Partnership. The festival has been offered a few years and is now an annual event at the direction of Tammy Stanford. The 2022 Festival was different in several ways. More schools and students participated than ever before. The greatest difference was that of the six areas of the state represented, MSA graduates were coming back as teachers in these schools! These graduates are now professionals in their own right and all of them studied with Tammy Stanford in dance or movement for the Actor while at MSA.
How amazing that the students spanning 2007-2020 are in one place, bringing dance to life. These artists are now training the next generation of young people in Hattiesburg, Laurel, Greenwood, McComb, and Jackson. This is an example of the viability of working in creative jobs in the state of Mississippi. This is an example of how investing in your students as Tammy Stanford has, changes their lives. Finally, this is an example of the network of artists that spans generations and continues to pay it forward by giving the joy of the arts to the youth of tomorrow!
Pictured from left to right:
- Tammy Stanford – Founder of Mississippi School of the Arts’ Dance Program
- Katie Pinkard – 2014 dance graduate of Mississippi School of the Arts and dance graduate from University of Southern Mississippi – Dance Teacher, Laurel Magnet School for the Arts
- Brandice Brown – 2012 theatre graduate of Mississippi School of the Arts and theatre graduate from Spelman and convergent media Mississippi Valley State University – Theatre Teacher, Amanda Elzy High School
- Daria Fisher – 2019 dance graduate of Mississippi School of the Arts and dance graduate from Cornish College of the Arts – Dance Teacher, McComb High School
- Katie Ginn – 2007 theatre graduate of Mississippi School of the Arts and MFA dance graduate of University of Southern Mississippi and St. Mary’s College of California – Dance Professor and Founder of the Dance Degree Program, William Carey University
- Cass Simmons – 2014 dance graduate of Mississippi School of the Arts and dance graduate of University of Southern Mississippi and Hollins University – Dance Teacher, APAC
- Nix Raines – 2020 visual graduate of Mississippi School of the Arts – dance student with Katie Ginn at William Carey University