Nancy McReynolds, Artistic Director
Although a Decatur native and a graduate of Millikin University in the areas of Speech, Theatre, English, and Dance, Mrs. McReynolds received her Master in Theater Arts at Denver University in Colorado. Even though she has attended many master classes and training schools, the most notable is her training certification with the Royal Academy of Dance (Based in England) in all grade levels (Pre-Primary through Grade 8) in Fort Wayne, IN, and Champaign, IL, as well as, her training in Evanston, IL, at the Gus Giordano Dance Studio.
Her performing experiences include high school and college plays, as well as, several Theatre 7 productions. She performed with the Twin City Ballet Company, USA Ballet, Agape (Christian Dance Company) and Synergy (which are all located in Bloomington, IL). She also has participated in many dance concerts in Bloomington, IL, and Decatur.
Her choreographed productions for Theatre 7 include the following: Quilters, Brigadoon, Annie, Leader of the Pack, Into the Woods, Fiddler on the Roof, and She Loves Me; Richland Community College productions: Metropolis [Decatur Herald’s Choreographer Award] and Fantastiks; school productions in the area; and many dance concerts throughout the years. She has co-directed and choreographed several ballets including The Nutcracker Ballet, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, and Coppelia.
Her experience as a director began at Millikin University with Green Pastures and later as an assistant director for several other productions at Millikin which gave her an opportunity to direct and work with professional actors on stage. In the area of dance she assisted Alexander Bennett for several years with productions in Bloomington, IL. One of the highlights of her career include her work as Ballet Mistress for the Scottish American Ballet in Edinburg, Scotland, where she worked with Andrei Ustinov, formerly of the Kirov Ballet, and Jaroslov Slavicky, Ballet Master of the Prague Opera in Czechoslovakia, in rehearsals, classes, and performances.
Originally from Decatur, I have danced through several spots to find my way back to my hometown. I did go to high school here. I was a Saint Teresa Bulldog. I was a cheerleader and also involved in the Drama Club at St. T. I studied dance at Millikin University under Gary Schull. Then it was off to college. I went to a small school in Rockford, IL, called Rockford College. I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis on Dance. While in Rockford, I also performed on a Semi-professional dance team called the Rockford Lightning Silverstreaks. During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in London, England, where I studied dance, music theory, and other general education classes.
Upon my graduation, I decided that I wanted to be a star, so I packed up and headed to Hollywood. There were quite a few trials and tribulations in California, but I always tried to stay focused on my dance path. I studied dance in California at Debbie Allen’s Dance Studio, as well as Debbie Reynolds’ Dance Studio. Although becoming a star never quite happened, there I was able to enjoy perfect weather for about three years.
After having enough fun in the sun, I returned to the friendly sights of the Midwest and landed in Chicago, IL. I was a choreographer and a model for the Chicago Hair Association Annual Hair Show. I was on television for a show called ATV (After Hours Television), where I was and still remain Crazy Daizy. I took several classes at Lou Conte Dance Studio and decided it was time for me to start teaching dance again. I worked in Chicago at a Homework Hangout type place, helping kids at Lifetime Fitness. It was at this point in my life when I began to realize why I was put on this earth.
I have to say that I was put here to teach dance and to make people appreciate how good life can be, no matter where they live. Experiencing all of these different places and unique people allowed me to grow into the person that I am. I just want to bring all of my findings and knowledge back here to Decatur, my hometown. I thought at one time, stardom would bring happiness, but it is the smile on each student’s face that makes me feel famous. I have learned through the years that you have to be the star of your own show. I want to teach everyone I encounter to be the star of their own show, the star of their own life. Hopefully, I will get a chance to meet and dance with all of you!
Melissa has been taking dance through the Richland Dance Program for 16 years. While at Richland, she has taken ballet classes with Nancy McReynolds, participated with the Richland Dance Company for 12 years, and danced in Richland's Nutcracker production for the past 15 years. Other productions include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Lion King, Wizard of Oz, Les Miserables, Swan Lake, and Jewels ballet. Melissa is from Decatur and attended St. Teresa high school. After she graduated in 2009, she attended Millikin University graduating in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Services and a minor in Spanish. Throughout high school, college and currently, she tries to find opportunities for involvement in activities related to her degree, such as being active in Big Brothers Big Sisters, St. Mary’s volunteer program, youth group and church activities. She is excited to share her passion for dance and looks forward to learning from her new students as well!