Paris Miles explores Black history through the art of dance

The For the Love of Dance founder’s latest program will explore the historical impact of Black culture on music and dance.
For the Love of Dance
For the Love of DanceOlivia Kristin Photography

For Paris Miles, owner and founder of For the Love of Dance school, the arts are a tool to improve the self-esteem of her students and build leadership.

“My goal is to help them to see themselves differently, and that's the part that I love the most,” Miles said. “I love coming through the backdoor to work on their confidence, ’cause then they receive it better, and dance is the methodology to do that.”

Culture. Color. Love!,” the dance school’s 11th annual end-of-season program, traces the historical impact of Black cultural influence on music and dance. About 60 dancers ranging from ages 3 to 60 years will perform in the show, which will take place Saturday, June 24, in the Battelle Grand Ballroom South at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Miles is the visionary and artistic director behind the upcoming performance, and she said the school has never before explored this expansive a swath of Black culture. “Culture. Color. Love!” chronologically follows the evolution of Black arts from the pre-slavery era through the rise of hip-hop, which grew out of the inner-city to become the dominant cultural form.

“When all else was missing, that’s what they had to hold onto, the creative expression of the spirit,” Miles said, an concept that informed a number in the show called “Hope of the Spirit.” “If there’s nothing tangible for you to grab on to then where do you find that hope? It's got to be your faith, and it's got to be the spirit.”

Miles has experienced mourning and grief, having lost her dance mentor, Darlene Hart, to domestic violence in 2012 and her brother to opioid addiction in 2018. She said her performances are about raising awareness and are also therapeutic for her.

"There wouldn't be a For the Love of Dance if there wasn't a life of a lady by the name of Darlene Hart,” said Miles, who founded her company a few months after Hart’s death. Following Hart’s passing, Miles, then a broke college student, produced and directed a show, “Dance Your Hart Out,” in dedication to her mentor. And Miles said that Hart’s family has been supportive of both her performances and her company. 

Miles worked with assistant program director Cassandra De La Rosa to bring the show to life, with De La Rosa serving as ballet instructor and choreographer for a ballet suite that appears early in the program.

Miles, a new mom to a 12-month-old baby boy, had taken a break from dancing during pregnancy, but will make a return to performing on Saturday – her first time onstage in two years. The dancer’s enthusiasm is further bolstered by the subject matter explored within “Culture. Color. Love!,” and she hopes audiences leave the venue feeling similarly enriched.

“I want the audience to just be inspired and hopeful and excited,” Miles said. “I hope that they are left with a newly found respect of Black history.”

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