Willis named head coach for Thomas University’s inaugural dance team
When it comes to coaching dance teams in South Georgia, Dana Willis is a pro. With more than two decades of experience behind her, Willis moved up to the collegiate level to become the coach of Thomas University’s first dance team, the Night Hawk Dancers.
“In many ways, I’ve prepared my students to enter collegiate dance for a number of years,” Willis said. “I’m excited about this new opportunity with Thomas University. I’m confident that with TU’s support, my team and I will make this new varsity sport a point of pride for not only the university, but the community as well.”
Willis’ interest in dance teams began during her time as a student at Birmingham-Southern College, where she received a dance scholarship. Because of her new passion for choreography, Willis received a second scholarship. She was also a charter member of the college’s first dance team. Willis graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance and a minor in Business Administration.
Willis returned to Cairo in 1993, where she opened her first dance studio, Off Bradstreet Centre, which now has locations in both Cairo and Thomasville. In 1998 Willis founded the F.I.R.M. Dance Company, the only competitive dance team in the area. The F.I.R.M. has won numerous awards in nearly every genre of dance throughout the Southeast. Willis has been recognized multiple times for her choreography, studio direction and for most entertaining dance numbers.
Willis previously served as choreographer for five years with the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe. She has also shared her talents with many area organizations, including Thomasville On Stage and Company, Bainbridge little Theater, Cairo High School’s drama program, Thomas county Central High School’s Dazzler auxiliary dance line, and the Thomasville Rose Queen Pageant.
Willis moved up to the collegiate level to become the coach of Thomas University’s first dance team, the Night Hawk Dancers will be Willis’ first venture coaching a collegiate dance team. The team will enter NAIA competition during the 2015-16 season.
Willis is married to Mark Willis. She has two children, Tabor and Palmer, and two stepchildren, Hannah and Mose.