Meet Tia-Simone Gardner: SCSU Dance Star

I had the pleasure of meeting Tia-Simone Gardner through a few of our shared Education classes in the fall of 2016. Like myself, she is currently taking classes at Southern to become an early childhood educator. I learned that Tia was on the dance team for Southern, and I was interested to learn more about her experience as a dancer.

"When did you start dancing?"

"I started dancing when I was seven years old (thirteen years). I've always loved music and would come up with my own moves and put on shows for my mom. Once I felt like I was old enough to handle school and an extra curricular activity, I found my studio and it was love at first sight."

"Did anyone inspire you to take up dancing?"

"No one specifically inspired me to be a dancer. Just going to different concerts and watching people dance on T.V. made me more eager to be a part of this community."

"What has it been like dancing for the SCSU dance team?"

"Being on Southern's dance team is a lot more work than people may think. People get this notion that just because we're dancers we don't go as hard as regular teams, but that's far from true. We practice Monday Wednesday Friday from six to nine at night; during the fall we have 6am run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Depending on if it's football or basketball season, we have Saturday games where we are at the field house from one in the afternoon until six in the evening, and on occasion we'll have a Sunday morning practice depending on what season we are in. That's dance every single day. Not to mention we work out for at least an hour during our practice days. That includes running miles, ab challenges, cardio, and then work our butts off to learn and clean a routine that is performance ready.

Being on this team has taught me dedication and time management. There are things we have to give up because of practices and performances but we don't mind because dance is something we love to do. Our squad this year is an amazing group of girls. We all have a great work ethic so we get our stuff done no questions asked. We knew what it would be like coming into this team so there is no reason to complain. We love what we do. I love what I do. I couldn't have asked to be a part of anything better than this. Of course there are days that I don't want to go or that I'm exhausted, but I know that it will all be worth it in the end."

"Has dance changed you as a person in any way?"

"Dance has shaped my life completely. I don't know where I'd be or what I would have done without it. It's helped me build a confidence in myself that I never knew I would find. I'm a fairly shy individual. When you first meet me you may get a smile and a hello but that's about it. When I'm performing I'm an entirely different person. When I put that uniform on and I'm in dance gear from head to toe, I'm ready to take on the world. I feel empowered. Anything negative that I was feeling about myself goes out the window when I step foot on that floor. I know that it's something I love to do and something that I'm good at so I'm nothing but happy when I'm dancing. I'm so very thankful for all the teachers and the coaches and the teammates and everything that I've gained from being a dancer."


All photos courtesy of Tia-Simone Gardner