News Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Logan McSwain, communications manager
704.372.0101 x2765

Photograph: Headshot of Ayisha McMillan by Jeff Cravotta

North Carolina Dance Theatre Names Ayisha McMillan as Principal of the School of Dance

McMillan is a former professional dancer with Houston Ballet
and North Carolina Dance Theatre 

Erica Blank has been promoted to vice principal of the School of Dance

Ayisha McMillan headshot 1 - photo by Jeff Cravotta.jpgCharlotte, N.C. – North Carolina Dance Theatre President & Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux announces Ayisha McMillan has joined North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance as principal. McMillan will work closely with Bonnefoux, who will serve as School director in addition to his role as president and artistic director of the Company.

“I look forward to taking a more active role in the training of students at our School of Dance,” said Bonnefoux. “I’ve worked with Ayisha for many years, and I’m excited about working with her in this new capacity. I know her knowledge and enthusiasm will positively benefit the School and our students.” 

McMillan joined Houston Ballet, under Director Ben Stevenson, in 1996. With Houston Ballet she toured and performed in London, Hong Kong, Toronto, and at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., performing ballets by Stevenson, George Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Trey McIntyre and Lila York. McMillan spent five seasons with North Carolina Dance Theatre and was the first African American woman to play a principal role in the company’s Nutcracker. Her time at Dance Theatre also included a memorable role as Tinker Bell in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Peter Pan, as well as being featured in Alvin Ailey’s The River and in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After retiring as a professional dancer in 2007, McMillan joined Dance Theatre’s marketing department.

Hailing from Illinois, McMillan’s dance career began at an early age at the Momenta Dance Company, where she trained in ballet and early American modern dance with Stephanie Clemens. On scholarship from Homer Hans Bryant, founding principal dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, McMillan studied at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She also trained at Maria Tallchief's School of Chicago City Ballet, and under Bolshoi Ballet Director Asaf Messerer and Mikhail Messerer at their Soviet American Ballet School. At the age of fifteen, McMillan left home to study on full scholarship at the Houston Ballet Academy.

McMillan’s teaching experience includes working as a dance instructor and mentor at La Salle Street CYCLE WIZ Factory of Learning and Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She was also a resident artist for the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital where she conceptualized, developed and led movement and music-based workshops to creatively engage pediatric cancer outpatients.

In 2007 McMillan was inducted into the prestigious HistoryMakers national archive in recognition for her accomplishments as an African American in the Arts. A National Achievement Scholarship Finalist,

McMillan studied at Rice University and most recently at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“My career in dance introduced me to a global diversity of people, places and stories. Those dance experiences provide me wealth from which to draw. I am inspired to bring the passion I have carried for dancing all my life into engaging the entire community to dance themselves,” said McMillan.

McMillan’s role as school principal includes overseeing the School’s faculty, schedules and budget. Along with Bonnefoux, she will develop and evaluate curriculum standards. McMillan will also work with school students and their families counseling students on their development and career plans. 

“I plan to maintain the School’s standards of excellence, while concentrating on developing the students as dancers and as people,” said McMillan. “I believe dance is a powerful vehicle for self discovery, and I hope to foster a love of dance in our students.”

McMillan can be reached at 704.372.0101 x2776 and ayisha.mcmillan@ncdance.org.

Erica Blank

Erica Blank has been promoted from school registrar to vice principal. In this role she will manage the financial aspects of the School. Blank, who studied ballet in her youth, is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in teaching. Before joining Dance Theatre she was a chemistry teacher at Raleigh Charter High School and a chemistry and physics teacher at Myers Park High School in Charlotte. Blank currently serves on the Cary Academy Board of Directors.

Erica Blank - b&w.jpg

Blank can be reached at 704.372.0101 x2791 and eblank@ncdance.org.

About North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance

North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance opened its doors in September 1993. As the only dance school in North Carolina affiliated with a nationally recognized professional dance company, the School offers the highest quality of dance instruction to students of all ages and levels of ability. The School of Dance parallels the professional Company’s tradition of excellence by providing a nurturing and structured environment that encourages individuality, creative expression and an appreciation for the art of dance. In June 2010 NC Dance Theatre and the School of Dance moved the Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance, in uptown Charlotte. The Center features six dance studios, spacious locker rooms and a 200-seat performance venue. For more information visit ncdance.org.