July 2, 2019 Artist to Watch: Tina Mullone

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Tina Mullone

Dancer & Educator

Tina Mullone, a Texas native, began her dance training under Fernando Schaffenburg in Fort Worth, TX. She continued to study at Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the University of Oklahoma. After graduating with a degree in Art History, she performed and taught for JAADE Dance Theater, Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth and Beckles Dancing Company. Besides the Fort Worth/Dallas metroplex area, Tina taught at the Texas Ballet Theater School and Texas Christian University. She performed with Kariamu and Company: Traditions and Bianca G. Harris Dance Ensemble (Philadelphia, PA). After receiving a MFA from Texas Christian University, she continued teaching at several Dallas/Fort Worth community colleges. She has performed in Germany, Mexico, New York, Philadelphia, Louisiana, Virginia and Texas.

Over the years, Ms. Mullone attended numerous dance workshops including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Dance Festival and the Katherine Dunham Institute. As Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, she continues to commute from Louisiana to Texas to work with Beckles Dancing Company, Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth (as Associate Artistic Director) and co-directs M2 (m squared), a performance art duet based in Monroe, LA. She served two consecutive terms on the South regional board for the American College Dance Association (ACDA). She currently sits on the Arts Advocacy committee under the National Dance Education Organization, dance specialist for Louisiana A Plus Schools, a certified Pilates mat and M’Singha Wuti level Umfundalai contemporary African dance instructor and National Water Dance ambassador. Her most recent accomplishments include 20 years and counting as a dance artist, performing at the Houston Fringe Festival with M2, residency at Emory & Henry College, participating on academic discussion panels at the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance conferences and Texas Christian University as well as Dance Education specialist for IABD.

Describe your dance journey.

I trained in the Aggripina Vaganova classical Russian technique from grade school to college. During my undergraduate years at the University of Oklahoma, I trained in several modern dance techniques including Martha Graham, and Doris Humphrey-Charles Weidman. I also trained intensively at Dallas Black Dance Theatre by attending their summer programs. It was there that I fell in love with the techniques of Lester Horton and Katherine Dunham. Over the years I have attended numerous dance programs including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre School, Urban Bush Women, American Dance Festival, and the Katheine Dunham Summer Institute. I have performed in NYC, Philadelphia, Texas, Mexico and Germany.

Who are your favorite choreographers? Katherine Dunham, Dr. Karimau Welsh, Loris Anthony Beckles, Kerry Kreiman, Camille Brown, Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch and there are others. This is a hard question to answer!

What’s your dance discipline of expertise? Technique: African Diaspora dance, contemporary modern dance, improvisation and ballet. 

What is(are) your research interest(s)? My research interests are the following: Spiritual embodiment in dance; Dances of the African Diaspora movement as a catalyst for social justice and change; feminist theory in movement and visual art; dance education versus sports education.

What led you to teach? I needed to make money to support my desire of performing. I started off as a teaching artist for various arts programs. What I realized is that I enjoy teaching just as much as creating and performing. Soon after, I decided it was time to pursue my MFA at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

How is your instructional approach different when working with elementary students as opposed to college students? With elementary students, they are extremely eager to get up and move. I have to be creative in how to control their energy. On the other hand with college students, I have to be creative in how to make them move, demonstrate how it relates to other fields of study and expand their minds when it comes to the definition of dance.

How can work that we do with elementary students prepare them for college arts curriculum? The work we do with elementary students actually makes them more competitive, smarter and extremely creative by the time they enter college. An arts education needs to begin in Pre-K/K and continue all the way through high school. I believe an arts integrated curriculum encourages students to pursue knowledge, develop a world view, collaborate with others, develop interactive social skills and builds self-confidence. 

Why is arts education important to elementary students? I believe I touched on this in the previous question. Students learn in so many different ways. Arts education touches on those 'multiple pathways' of learning.

You are a participating and attendee for the Louisiana Arts Summit, what are you most looking forward to? Speaking with other arts education colleagues and learning from the various panels and workshops.

What is the biggest misconception(s) you run into when it comes the dance? That there is only a certain body type and style that is superior while all other bodies and styles are inferior. And one more...dance does not relate to other fields of study nor it cannot prepare students for real life situations.

What dance companies do you perform with? I perform with three companies. Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth (CDFW) as Associate Artistic Director. Beckles Dancing Company (Dallas) as a performer. In fact, I have performed with the previous companies for 20 years and counting. The third company I work with is M2 (m squared) where I serve as Co-Director and choreographer with composer Dr. Mel Mobley. It is based in Monroe.

What are your plans for the remainder of the summer? I am performing at the Modern Dance Festival at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in July. The weekend performances and concert will premier new works by CDFW and M2 (m squared). I will also do research, read and relax as much as possible. 

Where can people follow your arts education and dance journey? 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/M2performanceart/ and https://www.facebook.com/dance2371,

Instagram account: @tinimudancer.