Spotlight on HFC Dance Instructor Diane Mancinelli

Dancers bending backward in circle around female dancer twirling on one leg in rehearsal studio.
HFC's Full Circle Dance Company in Rehearsal | Photo by Brittany Phillips

Diane Mancinelli, the founder and coordinator of the Full Circle Dance Company here at Henry Ford College spoke recently regarding her work and passion for dance, and the many benefits that dance provides. Mancinelli expressed how valuable health education and fitness are, as well as the need for the arts in schools everywhere. “Movement through the soma (the living body) is very important, not only for the body, but for the mind and spirit.” Dance allows students to create, develop skill, be a team player, be responsible and develop discipline. Students learn to contribute inside the studio as well as outside the studio.

Mancinelli expresses her love for dance as being “one of the most beautiful experiences to watch. Being able to watch a living, breathing human spirit on stage move in a poetic way – with or without music – expressing an emotion, a story, or an idea to an audience is absolutely beautiful, not only to do, but to watch.” Dance helps students learn about the world around them and within them.

Learning exactly what dance was and how it is related to other art forms piqued Mancinelli’s interest. Focusing on the learning aspect of dance, she sought out to provide information that would be offered in a college and not in a dance studio such as dance’s relationship to music, the history of it, how to produce concerts and how to choreograph. Mancinelli spent years teaching as an adjunct in schools part time and waiting tables at night, waiting for a full time position to open. She diligently prepared herself by creating course masters on several dance classes, piecing her work together bit by bit.

There are many great health benefits to dance. It increases and improves cardiovascular health, muscle endurance, flexibility, coordination, agility and balance. Dance increases awareness of the physical being by building health consciousness, keeping the body in good order. Increasing awareness from a holistic standpoint helps keep the instrument in good tune, not only in fitness and movement, but also through good nutrition and diet. A good and healthy diet, getting enough sleep, minimizing stress and avoiding substance abuse all work together to keep the body, spirit and emotions all in good health.

Dance teaches students how to work within their own body, creating a healthy body image, and fosters growth in a healthy environment among company members, giving them room to focus on building skill, leadership ability, endurance and discipline.

Mancinelli focuses on the movement she is teaching and the movement vocabulary, what the movements are called, the purpose of the exercise and the language as well as the English translation. During this process, students become literate dancers, increasing technique, making performance better because there is a clear understanding of what the body is actually doing. Students are required to learn the language of the body from an anatomical point of view. Prompting her students to learn the bones and muscles of the body helps with internalizing movement onto the body to execute the movement correctly. The knowledge and understanding of the muscles being used and the movement that is being executed makes it easier to perform.

Those who are interested in dance are encouraged to check out the Full Circle Dance Company in Building H-4. Concerts are held at the end of every semester.

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