Alum continues troupe legacy

Giltrecia Head, a class of 2007 graduate of FAMU, is greeted every Saturday by a group of hyper, screaming and energetic three to six year olds, all anxiously waiting to begin class.

Program advisor and dance instructor for Excellence Dance Studio, Head is sharing her love of dance with students all over Tallahassee.

Since she was a little girl, Head said she had a natural ability for dance, and learned to focus on different dance moves and styles. A native of Tallahassee, Head studied dance under the direction of Cheryl Wimberley at Amos P. Godby High School.

“It was a blessing to come upon her [Wimberley] and get the training I needed,” Head said.

Wimberley exposed Head to her first taste of formal dance training in ballet, modern and jazz. Head studied architecture at Florida A&M, which she admitted was a challenge trying to continue to dance.

Head credits great dance training to Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre, which she joined her junior year.

“There is no organization like it,” Head said. “It was a professional learning experience that was priceless. People pay thousands to get that kind of training.”

After graduating in 2007, Head partnered up with now Executive Director of the dance company, Sherika Duncan. The two started their partnership with a small camp at the Smith-Williams Center in Tallahassee, then branched off and formed “Excellence Dance Studio” in Madison County.

They currently teach classes in the city and surrounding areas. Some of their locations include the Lawrence Gregory Community Center, North Florida Community College and the Smith-Williams Center.

Akita Heatley, assistant supervisor at the Lawrence Gregory Center, said Head’s classes not only positively contribute to the community, but are informative concerning African dance and culture.

“Many of the girls never had anything to do,” said Heatley. “She came in and taught them hip-hop dance, and they put on a show for our Black History program.”

Head teaches a diverse set of styles, including basic ballet, modern and cultural dance that involves traditional West African and Caribbean. Her main age group consists of students aged seven to seventeen, but she also teaches adults and college students. She recently added a three to six year old class.

She has developed a group of dancers, made up of mainly college students, whom she considers a “company in the making.” The group is called Yemouye, which means ‘dragonfly’ in the Guinea Susu language. The company has performed at Black on Black Rhyme events and competitions throughout the Southeastern region.

“We compare ourselves to a BigBrothers BigSisters program,” Duncan said. “It’s not just a dance class. We wrap life skills around it, and the kids are able to express themselves.”

The two are waiting on a grant to start a studio in Tallahassee and they won’t receive word until the end of the month. For more information, you can visit their Facebook (Excellence Dance Studio) and Twitter (Excellence Dance).