BRINGING IT: MISS D AND THE DANCING DOLLS
On the dance floor, this reality star carries a mystique born of excellence and swagger. Her eye-popping cuts on Lifetime's Bring It, as hard-edged as Michael Jackson's, coupled with an air of utter self-assurance, have made even her full name unnecessary. Some of her biggest fans probably don't even know who Dianna Williams is.
But they know Miss D.
Now the impresario of hip-hop majorette moves is in town. Miss D and the Dancing Dolls will uncork their high-energy formations Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. While those made-for-television personality clashes, often with rival coach Neva of the Olive Branch team, have added spice to Bring It, the trash talk only matters because Coach D can back hers up. (My favorites so far on YouTube are, "Miss D does a death drop" and "Miss D and Neva go too far.")
The real Miss D talks about her work with girls, about staying prayerful and staying close to the heart, especially on the floor. She opened her academy, the Dancing Dolls, in 2001, adding a second studio in 2010. The school now has more than 300 students.
"I say it all day long," said Miss D, 37. "I love to cook and I love to dance, but if you don't have passion for it and you are not completely enthralled by it, you are not going to be successful in it."
The explosive form of dance she teaches — part hip-hop, part cheerleading, part gymnastics — came together relatively late for her, along with a hard-won sense of purpose. Growing up in Birmingham, Ala., she took ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop, graduating from high school at 16. "I was a lot smarter and more advanced than my peers, and I bored easily," she said.
Prevented by her mother from trying out for majorettes, Miss D never danced on a line until after high school. Despite five auditions, she failed to make the majorette squad at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala. Coaches rejected her because of her body type alone, which is compact and muscular instead of long and lean, she said.
"There's a kind of beauty pageant look they go for," she said. "They never got a chance to see me dance."
Miss D graduated with a degree in criminal justice. Instead of reaching kids through the courts system, she chose dance.
"I think there is something waiting for everybody," she said. "God has a purpose for everybody."
7 p.m. Sunday. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $36.25 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
ST. PETERSBURG OPERA: INTO THE WOODS
The St. Petersburg Opera Company finishes out its season with Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim's pastiche of child psychology and fairy tales. The musical will run for two weeks. Faces seen in previous St. Petersburg Opera productions include baritone Clayton Brown (Putting it Together) and Caroline Tye (Carmen) as the Baker and his wife; mezzo-soprano Tara Curtis (The Tales of Hoffmann) as the Witch; tenor Lucas Levy (The Tales of Hoffmann) as Rapunzel's Prince; Justin Berkowitz (West Side Story) as Jack (of beanstalk fame); and Paula Broadwater (Putting it Together) as Jack's mother. Melissa Misener, who recently starred as Judy Garland in Freefall Theatre's End of the Rainbow, plays the Narrator. Opens Friday and runs through July 9 at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $22-$67. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.
STARS AND STRIPES: FLORIDA WIND BAND
University of South Florida professor John Carmichael founded the Florida Wind Band in 2008 with a goal of establishing a full-time professional band. The group of retired musicians, teachers and students has been growing steadily ever since. The band performs its patriotic concert this weekend, "Honor, Integrity and Service," in a way that will surely bring out of the spirit of John Philip Sousa. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, USF Fine Arts building, FAH 110, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $15. Students, seniors, military and first responders, $10. (813) 531-9252. floridawindband.com.