Liz Anderson (First-year MFA) holds a pose in the School of Dance's Pilates Certification Class

Pioneers in Pilates: School of Dance Launches Certificate Program 

“And now place your hands on the pegs, extend those legs up to the ceiling, breathe, and feel your strength.” 

Mila Parrish walks around the studio speaking in a calm almost melodic tone, guiding her students through a Pilates flow, stopping from time to time to adjust a leg or arm to help the dancers achieve the proper positions. 

The students are pioneers in Pilates at UNCG’s School of Dance—the first cohort that will earn a certification to teach the exercise form. 

“A certification program leads towards job security,” says Parrish. “And it aligns beautifully with the direction these dancers are already going. It fits in with their coursework. It’s not extra. It’s not more. It just deepens their already experienced bodies, and these students are earning certification from the premier organization for Pilates teachers. They will come away with an incredible marketability.” 

Her students agree: 

“I thought this would be a great thing to add to my resume, to help me find work after graduating. But I also wanted to do it for myself. Pilates is a great way to find balance,” says Liz Anderson, a first-year MFA student. 

Anna Creekmore is a junior pursuing a BFA in Dance Education: 

“I’m studying to be a dance teacher and adding this kind of cross-training is essential. Some of the exercises we do help us reach full potential in stretching and in movement. I’m only 4′ 11″, and with Pilates I feel like I’m six feet tall! There’s this newfound sense of stability and understanding of my body, especially my core.” 

Pilates is a type of mind-body exercise developed in the early twentieth century by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates while treating polio patients on the Isle of Man. He invented the equipment called “reformers” (originally made from bedsprings) to help patients use resistance to work their muscles. 

Davida Reid, a third-year MFA student, found that Pilates classes have helped her work through her own injury: 

“I think it’s important for dancers to know where movement initiates and to have a deeper understanding of movement so you’re not just throwing your body around.  I’ve been dealing with an injury that came from having flexibility but not the strength, and Pilates helps you gain both. After bringing Pilates into my training, I was able to go into arabesque and hold it again. I hadn’t felt that in a very long time.” 

Mila Parrish (Professor of Dance) working with students in the School of Dance's new Pilates certification class.
Mila Parrish (Professor of Dance) working with students in the School of Dance’s new Pilates certification class.

Parrish loves seeing what the class is doing for the students and how they will use it in the future: 

“They can utilize their practice to care for themselves because this is a mindful practice. Beyond that, being certified to teach may help them pay the rent! We want to help students learn how to achieve financial wellness, too. This is another beautiful layer to add to their growth as artists and teachers.” 

“With my MFA, I can be a performer, dancer, and professor,” says Reid. “By adding that certification in Pilates, I can work right away within my field.  It’s a foundation that helps a dancer live off and take care of themselves.” 

 “In Dance Education, there’s a career path but having the extra certification is valuable. Pilates is a booming exercise trend, so coming out of school with this certification will make it easier to find work,” adds Creekmore. 

Parrish is excited to be bringing Pilates into the curriculum: 

“This was five years in the making. I’m so appreciative that Dean mcclung believed in this program and was able to help find funding for the equipment and this studio.” 

As a College of Visual and Performing Arts, we want to grow and adjust to meet the needs of our students to help them become successful in living a life in the arts,” says Dean bruce mcclung. “The Pilates Certificate program is an important addition to the School of Dance’s offerings as it will allow dance students to become certified Pilates instructors and will add to their career possibilities.” 

While the certification program is only open to dance majors, the School of Dance also offers a Pilates class to all students as part of the university’s MAC (Minerva’s Academic Curriculum) general education program.  The course falls under the category of health and wellness, and it fills quickly every semester. 

Victoria Williams, a second-year MFA student in the certification program, values the aspect of wellness: 

“For me, it was just taking some time for myself as a grad student. I have the desire to perform and to teach and I wanted to integrate a practice that would allow me to strengthen and train as well have some time to focus on myself in a very intimate environment. It has allowed me to give my body so much more grace. Instead of being frustrated with how my body is or isn’t performing, I’ve learned to work with my body instead of against it.” 

 Story by Terri W Relos


Professor Emerita Gay Cheney

In Memoriam: Dr. Gay Cheney

Professor Emerita Gay E. Cheney passed away last Wednesday, November 29, 2023. Dr. Cheney was a UNC Greensboro dance faculty member for twenty years from 1976 to 1996. She also served as Head of the Dance Department, now the School of Dance, from 1978 to 1982. While at UNC Greensboro, Dr. Cheney taught improvisation, the creative process, choreography, philosophy of dance, aesthetics and criticism of dance, twentieth-century dance, and courses on “Art as Human Experience,” “Body Wisdom and Art,” and “Ceremony for the Earth.” In 1995 Dr. Cheney was honored with the North Carolina Dance Alliance Annual Award, which recognized her years of service to dance in the state. The School of Health and Human Sciences named her an honorary alumna and presented her with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998.
Dr. Cheney was president of the North Carolina Dance Alliance from 1984 to 1985 and its vice-president from 1983 to 1984. From 1976 to 1989, she was a consultant for the State Department of Public Instruction, Creative Arts Division. Her textbook, Basic Concepts in Modern Dance: A Creative Approach, was published in 1969. In addition, Dr. Cheney published in several professional journals, choreographed dances for UNCG students, and performed with several companies and individuals from 1956 to 1990. She was a former student of Alwin Nikolais, Deborah Hay, and Bella Lewitzsky.  Her research focused on dance as healing and anthropological dance, with particular emphasis on Native American dance ceremony and ritual.
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Cheney completed her undergraduate degree at Tufts University. She received a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1964, and her PhD from the University of Southern California in 1970. Her teaching experience prior to UNC Greensboro included Newton High School in Newton, Massachusetts; George Washington University; American University; and California State University-Hayward.
A service for Dr. Cheney will be held in January, and there may be an event at the School of Dance to remember Dr. Cheney in the future.
Photo credit: Lynn Hey, Greensboro News & Record
Maria Menendez '23 DMA Music

Commencement Profile: Maria Menendez

Maria Menendez 


Hometown: La Habana, Cuba 


What was it that led you to pursue a life in the arts? 

In Cuba I studied piano and choral conducting. Before I left my country, I was already working as a music teacher. I went to the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida where I did my undergraduate studies in keyboard performance and received a master’s degree in collaborative piano there.  

Why did you choose UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts? 

After completing my master’s degree, I settled in South Carolina and explored the possibility of completing a terminal degree in music. I found that the music program at UNCG School of Music had an excellent reputation and decided to apply. I also had a direct reference from a student in South Carolina who graduated from the Collaborative Piano program at CVPA. My intention was to earn a terminal degree in musicstudies in order to open possibilities for better job offers. 

 How was CVPA/UNCG a good fit for you? 

My experience at UNCG has been positive in terms of personal and professional growth. I have interacted with professors who have been a great influence. Professors at UNCG really focus on possibilities and not on limitations. They have known how to inspire and push me toward the best version of myself. 

What is your favorite thing about CVPA, UNCG, and/or Greensboro? 

One of my favorite things about UNCG is the inclusive environment and genuine interest in the student as an individual. As for Greensboro, I’m fascinated by the colors and climate of autumn. Fall is my favorite season of the year. 

What is something you gained at CVPA/UNCG that you will take with you on your next step in your journey? 

I am leaving the School of Music with a flexible mentality to adapt to all situations that I may encounter in the future. I have also learned that to be able to teach I must develop the best of myself. Then Ican give back to my students. 

What are your plans? 

I am fortunate to have a job lined up before graduating. In addition to accompanying, I’ll have access to teaching some music courses and this flexibility attracted me to this position. I consider this a first step. I’m open to possibilities that will come! My fundamental plan is to use my knowledge and talents to contribute to the lives of others. 

What is your advice for current or future Spartans? 

Each one of us has more power than we imagine to enhance our abilities and to help our fellow human beings. We can truly conquer everything on which we focus our energy and intentions in any field of study. 

Story by Terri W. Relos

Photo credit Camila Menendez 


Jocelyn Marencik '23 BFA Art

Commencement Profile: Jocelyn Marencik

Jocelyn Marencik 

BFA-Studio Art: New Media and Design, 

Minor in Computer Science 

Hometown: Glen Allen, Virginia 


What was it that led you to pursue a life in the arts? 

 I have had an interest in computing, including both its logical programming side and its creative design side, for a large portion of my life. After taking several coding, web development, and digital arts classes in high school, I knew I wanted to continue on this path in college. 

 Why did you choose UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts? 

This is a community of kind people coming together to share their interests and to learn from one another. The university also has programs that focus on community service and offer volunteer opportunities at events, including the Leadership Challenge and the National Residence Hall Honorary. I also brought my initiative, Got Tec, which donates needed technology equipment to underserved and underfunded local schools, with me to the Greensboro area as part of my community service. 

You are also receiving a Minor in Computer Science. How does that fit with your Art degree? 

I am passionate about balance, and especially the balance between the logic of programming and the creativity of the arts, coming together to create digital interactivity. The Computer Science minor helped me think in a structured way and explore algorithms and logical processes that could be applied to creative projects, including web design and development, and online interactive experiences.

How was your experience at CVPA/UNCG a good fit for you? 

The courses I have taken within my New Media and Design major educated me on industry standards, such as the Adobe Suite, as well as other software including p5.js and WordPress. I have also improved my communication and professional skills, both verbally and through writing, including critiques and artist statements. 

What is your favorite thing about CVPA, UNCG, and/or Greensboro?  

 I loved being able to find smaller groups within UNCG and the Greensboro community, that share interests and are willing to listen and give feedback to each other. In my freshman year, I was part of a living-learning community in my residence hall, focused on giving back, leadership, and attending volunteer opportunities. I have also participated in organizations over my years here, focused on academics like STARS (Students in Technology, Academia, Research, and Service) on visual arts, such as the UNCG Artists’ Guild, and on social communities, such as the UNCG Gaming and eSports Club. 

What are your future plans? 

After graduation I will be working for Genworth Financial, a company with which I interned this past summer. I’ll be on a Web Design and Development team as a part of Genworth’s IT Development Program.  

What is something you gained at CVPA/UNCG that you will take with you on your next step in your journey? 

I have learned to step forward and ask for feedback when possible. Hearing others’ perspectives is helpful with any project, including creative and programming projects. It may also lead to expanding my list of connections. 

What is your advice for current or future Spartans? 

Get involved as soon as possible, but also strive for balance and don’t overwhelm yourself! Look for smaller student groups within the larger community.  

 and organizations that fit your interests best, both socially and academically. You’ll be able to make friends across majors and serve the UNCG community by volunteering together at events.   

Story by Terri W. Relos

Photo credit: Jocelyn Marencik 



Ethan Everhart '23 BM Music Pop Tech

Commencement Profile: Ethan Everhart

Ethan Everhart 

BM-Performance: Popular Music and Technology 

Hometown: Lexington, NC 

What was it that led you to pursue a life in the arts?  

I went to my older sister’s band concerts when I was in elementary school, and I knew that I wanted to play an instrument when I got to middle school. My middle and high school band directors encouraged me to continue with music after graduating from high school. When I first heard of the Popular Music and Technology (PopTech) program, I was already a few years into a Music Education degree, but I knew almost immediately that the new program was right for me. I switched programs and saw my passion for music reignite. 

Why did you choose UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts? 

I chose UNCG for the city and the campus. When I toured UNCG, I was astounded by the beauty of the campus and its location within Greensboro—none of the other schools I saw could compare. 

How was CVPA/UNCG a good fit for you? 

UNCG gave me the freedom to take my time and to explore my interests. I think without that, I wouldn’t be completely satisfied in my field. CVPA encouraged me to diversify my experiences in music.

What is your favorite thing about CVPA, UNCG, and/or Greensboro? 

Greensboro is an amazing place for musicians and artists alike. Places like the Coliseum, the Tanger Center, the Carolina Theatre, and countless small venues and coffee shops will ensure that you have a place where your music can be heard and give you places to hear other musicians as well.

What are your future plans? 

I intend to stay in Greensboro to continue work as an audio engineer in live sound while maintaining a music business on the side. 

What is something you gained at CVPA/UNCG that you will take with you on your next step in your journey? 

I was able to successfully start an on-location audio recording business called MANTIS Audio, LLC during my time at UNCG.  

What is your advice for current or future Spartans? 

Don’t be afraid to say “yes,” even if you think you aren’t ready. Opportunities are around every corner and those only lead to more and better opportunities. Your next step in life may only be one “yes” away. 

Story by Terri W. Relos

Photo credit: Colby Laws