COKATO, MN Five years ago, Kaleena Miller was center stage, as she tapped alongside her energetic dancing troupe, Rhythmic Circus, in “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” at the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center.
She returned to Cokato last month, this time as a guest instructor at Miss Wendy’s Dance Studio.
Wendy Moore, owner of Miss Wendy’s, met Miller last fall when her daughter, Lindsey, was performing in the Twin Cities Tap Festival. Miller was her instructor. She is also doing the choreography for a tap solo to be performed by Lindsey at upcoming competitions.
Moore wanted to give her students a similar opportunity, and welcomed the professional dancer to her studio Feb. 12.
“Working with Miss Kaleena Miller was an experience that I wanted my dancers to have,” Moore explained. “To be able to learn from such a nationally-acclaimed artist is such a rare opportunity in our small town.”
There were 11 dancers in Moore’s advanced class who benefited from the experience. Miller taught a mix of classic tap and modern music-making.
“Learning how to tap in such a way taught me how to really focus on the sounds I was making and create music, not just dancing,” explained 17-year-old Alex Bunker.
“My dancers went into the class with excitement, and showed their true professionalism throughout the class as they worked hard, listened to every word Miss Miller had to say, and showed Miss Miller the respect she deserved,” Moore stated.
Kezia Lee, 12, said taking the class from Miller was “the most amazing experience” she ever had. “I walked into the class not knowing what to expect, and walked out feeling improved,” Lee added. “She really pushed us to be better than we thought.” She hopes to take another class from Miller in the future.
“They were very excited and learned so much,” Moore stated. “We hope to have her back again.”
As the founding member of Rhythmic Circus, the international touring group, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” appeared on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
The accomplished Minneapolis-based dancer is a 2015 McKnight Dance Fellow, and was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” for 2016.