By Nicole S. Daniel
Mikiba Glover, owner of Magic City Studios in Fairfield, AL. makes sure dance students stay busy. “They don’t have free time to get in trouble,” she said. “If they are not traveling, we are doing community service. I think my job is to do what I did with my children when they were younger. That is to provide an outlet for the students to dance and keep them busy.”
One of her daughters, Aryah, is currently a sophomore studying to be a neurosurgeon at The University of South Alabama. Another daughter, Timoni, is currently the captain of the Magic City Bellez, a premiere majorette competition team at Magic City Studios.
Her children are the reasons why she established one of the premiere dance studios in the area. “I got into it dancing because I realized that my daughters Aryah (now 19) and Timoni (17) were interested in dancing. I wanted to support them and hone their craft,” said Glover.
At her sons, Tyuan’s (now 28), and Makhi (now 26) football or basketball games her daughters, then 5 and 7, would dance in the stands or on the basketball court. Glover began to search for local dance teams to enroll them.
“I wanted to make sure they were a part of an organization that dancing style was appropriate for my girls age group. That was the purpose of starting my own dance team.”
In 2011 Glover established a dance squad at Fairfield High Preparatory School that would perform during halftime of each basketball game.
Making It Happen
She brought in [a dance choreographer] to teach the girls routines. More than 50 students, males and females, tried out for for 12 slots. “We were first to allow male dancers at the school. We got a lot of slack for that, but we made it happen,” said Glover.
Asked what she remembers about the tryouts Glover said, “I felt pressured to succeed. It was the first time they had something like that. I was thinking, ‘I’m introducing something new so how is it going to be perceived?’ Were we pushing a lot of boundaries? I wanted it to be fun and relatable for the kids but most importantly I wanted to keep it neat.”
After having several intense tryouts, a dozen girls were finally picked. “We had 12 dancers but I snuck Aryah and Timoni in during performances,” said Glover.
While leading the dance team she learned that a number of other students were interested in dance but hadn’t made the team.
“So that left the other ones with nothing to do. That’s what prompted me to start the studio which began as the Magic City Bellez dance team in 2014 in the living room of her Fairfield home. She had the students not only focus on hip hop or classic style of HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] but also ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and lyrical styles.
“We went from 8 girls to 25 in two weeks. I sat down with my staff and we decided to become a dancing studio [In May of 2016]. The name Magic City comes from Birmingham and Bellez because they wanted to be classy and elegant like southern belles.
“We added an E and we put the Z on the end versus the S to be of the time. I don’t say studio because the goal has always been to have multiple locations therefore I wouldn’t have to change the name again.”
“We not only focus on dancing but we also focus on self-image, self-respect, and being uplifting to each other. We try we create a free space so if you’ve had a bad day at school at work or whatever and when you come to the studio is just the place to just let it out just breathe … not only do they dance together but they actually become sisters.”
Glover, 45, was born and raised on the north side of Birmingham, AL. She is a full time real estate agent and “very skilled at putting people into their purpose,” she said. “I find young choreographers within the city who have the passion and ability to teach so I hire them.”
Although Glover has never been a dancer she’s a fan of Katherine Dunham, an American dancer and choreographer. “I admire her for breaking barriers and being a trailblazer and showcasing us (women of color).”
Parental involvement has always been important for Glover. When her children were younger she would leave work in time to sit at her son’s and daughter’s practices. Whether it was a football, basketball, dance, she would be there even if she had to sit in the car.
“Then we would go home and do homework. I never missed any games or performances.”
Her first location was in Homewood but wanted to create an opportunity for students who couldn’t make it there so in May 2016, she moved the studio to Fairfield, AL.
“I raised my children in Fairfield and I wanted to be more accessible to the community,” she said.
Since opening, the Magic City Studios has won Alabama’s Best Dance Team four times. “We are nationally ranked in Conventional Dance and we have won countless grand champion trophies In majorette style dance as the Magic City Bellez.”
Magic City Dance Studios is for all age groups from ages 4-19. They currently have about 22 dancers. The Magic City Bellez, the premiere majorette dance team has six dancers.
Glover said 97 percent of the dancers have gone on to receive scholarships for dance or a community service activities.
At Magic City Studios Glover make efforts to balance the year out with community events whether it’s back to school rallies, church events, fashion shows to keep the girls involved in the community – and busy.
“I knew I was walking in my purpose when we transitioned from a team to a full-blown dance studio,” she said.
Magic City Dance Studios will hold free tryouts on November 12 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Magic City Studios, 415 45th St Fairfield, AL 35064) for the Magic City Bellez team for ages 9 and up. For more visit Magiccitydance.com or call 205-677-6126.