Idyllwild Arts: Artistic Enough

Published : Tuesday, January 9, 2018 | 1:10 PM

Denayia Miniex, Idyllwild Arts Academy’s twelfth-grade Dance major from Los Angeles, doesn’t fit the stereotype of having started ballet lessons while still young enough to be entranced by Sesame Street.

“I started dancing when I was eleven, but then went into rhythmic gymnastics.”

She was good enough to qualify for the Junior Olympic team.

“But it wasn’t artistic enough. You’re required to make certain moves in order to please the judges, and that compromises what you might want to do artistically.”

Now in her third year at the Academy, she has found the artistic freedom she craved in the no-compromises Dance Department chaired by Ellen Rosa Taylor. The darkness of Denayia’s creation for last May’s Student Choreography Concert is given away by its title: “A Thousand Ways to Die.”

“It started off being about people almost dying, but ended up being about the different ways people respond to death.”

Of course, Denayia’s only concern is not death and not all of her moods are dark. This is suggested by the month she spent this past summer on a full scholarship with San Francisco’s Alonzo King Lines Ballet, a company renowned for wedding the “rigor of classical ballet” to a “fast-paced and exuberant style”.

“They’re my favorite dance company.”

Fast-paced? The future also arrives at a fast pace for an ambitious high school senior. After graduating next May, “I plan on going to a university, and my top choice is USC Kaufman because it’s right by where I grew up.”

After university, “I’d like to be a contemporary ballet dancer, preferably in Southern California.”

But opportunities to dance can come from around the world, Denayia realizes.

“I’d go anywhere if the offer were good enough, and my mom will be happy with it as long as I’m happy.”


Idyllwild Arts, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild, CA 92549-0038, (951) 659-2171 or visit






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