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Written In Ink: Dancer Realizes Goal In London
Dancer Realizes Goal In London
Collin College Alum Malia McNeny
A crisp, blank sheet of notebook paper held the promise of a future yet unfolded for Malia McNeny. From the moment she opened the spiral in her first college class and penned the words “goal: attend school in London,” her life began to change. It didn't matter that she was only 16 years old at the time or that she wrote the words in the margin. The physical representation of her dreams had leapt from her mind out into the world where others could see it.

“Last year my mom found my first Collin College notebook and read my goal. She found two possible schools in London for me. My parents filmed me performing a tap number from 42nd Street in my musical theatre class, and we recorded the rest of my audition film in the college’s Black Box Theatre. When I traveled to London to audition I performed a piece I learned in Modern Dance Technique IV with my dance professor Tiffanee Arnold. It is a good piece, and they really enjoyed it. I was offered a partial scholarship, which they don’t typically give international students. It was really exciting,” McNeny said.

This fall McNeny will be one of 56 students training at the Tiffany Theatre College in England. One of her new ballet professors is currently performing in “Billy Elliott” in London’s West End, and the college’s artistic director shared the same venue playing the phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous work “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“It is a small school. It seems like a caring place where I will not be overlooked. I wasn't overlooked at Collin. Attending Collin College was the best experience of my life. You learn a lot at Collin, and you have smaller classes and professors that will take the time to know you. That is really important. My classes were tough. I never got an easy A. I learned to step out of my comfort zone, to not be shy. I learned to ask questions. It helped me to be a stronger person.”

McNeny started taking ballet at three years old. She walked inside and out in ballet shoes much to the frustration of her parents who had to repeatedly buy her new footwear. She and her three siblings were home schooled, and they all attended Collin College.

Dance has a power over McNeny. When she is anxious or frustrated she says she can drown herself in dance and her troubles no longer exist. She longs to share this freeing experience with others.

“It is not about applause. I am not looking for praise or to be the best dancer but to help people feel good or be entertained. That makes me feel good.”

Today, McNeny dreams of performing in “Wicked” in London’s West End. Perhaps, she will write that goal down in her notebook at her new school across the pond.

For more information about dance at Collin College, visit www.collin.edu/dance/.

Reprinted with permission by Plano Profile