This archived article was written by: Tylor Christmas
After spending two years as an adjunct instructor, Melissa Anast joined the ranks as a full-time dance instructor this year on a one-year appointment. She replaces Carolyn Gwyther who is on sabbatical leave.
Taking a break from her hectic schedule, she sat down with me and explained her new responsibilities in the dance department that include “creating a fun and exciting learning environment for students,” and directing this semester’s dance concert.
The semester’s ensemble will be a holiday program titled “Seasons Greetings,” held December 4, 5 and 6 at 7:30 in the Geary Theater. The program includes several holiday-themed dance pieces, which utilize various styles of dance including pointe, lyrical ballet, modern and character jazz.
With collaboration of other instructors in the progrm, Kristin Unsworth, Julia Tatton and Rachel Allen, Anast choreographed the routines and has even integrated some fresh new elements. Each piece includes a different costume, which Anast says adds to the texture of the concert. Dianna Root, an aerobics instructor at the College of Eastern Utah, sewed and constructed the majority of the costumes which Anast thinks adds so much to the ambiance of the performance.
Trisha Munns and Miriam Gileadi, members of the dance ensemble, contributed their own artwork to the concert posters and programs.
In addition to the dance department, the music department will be singing, and Miss CEU, Danielle Tremelling, will perform a dance solo. Also, Nancy Futrell will be playing live piano for the dancers.
Melissa’s favorite part about being a full-time instructor is “watching students grow. It’s exciting to see how much they have learned.”
In addition to teaching dance ensemble, she teaches, jazz, modern dance, hip hop, Pilates, improvisation, and dance in culture. Anast is also the coach of the Eagle Dancers, so she spends a lot of weekends at athletic games.
She started dancing when she was two and a half years old. She went to Linda Johnstun’s dance school and made up fun routines for friends and neighbors. “From the time I was young, I knew that I always wanted to be a dance instructor. There really was never anything else I wanted to do,” she said.
She grew up in Price and graduated from CEU. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in dance from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She later attended graduate school and received her master’s degree in choreography from Mill’s College in Oakland, California.
Anast says that the concert will be great for the community to see and invites everyone to “come and see what we can do.” She also promises a few big surprises.
The dancers participating in the concert include: Leslie Clark, Amy Devitt, Desiree Dimick, Jessica Gee, Miriam Gileadi, Whitney Ison, Haley McCracken, Trisha Munns, Tia Rhodes, Danielle Tremelling, Meshia Wagner and Alexis Yelonek.