Meet Gypsy Ingram of Ovation Academy of Performing Arts and Studio M Dance
For as long as I can remember performing and creating has been a part of my life. In fact, I can not remember a time when it was not a part of my life DNA, I fell in love with dance and musical theatre at a very early age – specifically the idea of storytelling through song and dance. But at the age of nine, I saw the dream ballet in Oklahoma and it changed my life. I knew from that moment on I wanted to make classical ballet a central focus for my future. And I was blessed to have a career in that world until I was 25. I trained with the best teachers in the country, I had a professional career that allowed me to dance my dream roles, travel the world, and introduce me to what would eventually become my greatest passion – teaching. As a result, my professional palette blends together more than 35 years of amazing experiences as a professional dancer, choreographer, and educator.
I hold an M.F.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. From 2004-2013 I served as Director of Dance at Tarrant County College South where I taught ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, and dance composition. I was also director and choreographer of the resident dance company Velocity. Prior to my time at TCC South, I was a principal dancer with Collaborati Ballet Company dancing lead roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Don Quixote, and Romeo and Juliet. I also appeared onstage in numerous musicals including Chicago (Velma Kelly), Cabaret (Sally Bowles), Annie (Miss Hannigan, Lily St. Regis), Oklahoma (Ado Annie), Grease (Rizzo), and The Sound of Music (Maria).
As a freelance choreographer, my dance works have been seen in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in venues such as the Barefoot Brigade, Dance for the Planet, the South Dallas Dance Festival, Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, Denton Dance Festival, Arts Fifth Avenue, the Main Street Arts Festival, and RAW Dallas. My original works have been commissioned nationally and internationally for independent artists and companies in Philadelphia, New York, Orlando, Santa Fe, Chicago, New York, Mexico City, London, and Prague. I have been a frequent guest instructor at the American College Dance Festival. Additionally, I served as Artist in Residence at North Central Ballet and as a guest artist with studios across North Texas, Houston, San Antonio, Orlando, Atlanta, and New York. Currently, I teach at Studio M in Rockwall, where I have been for four years and this year I joined the faculty as Master Instructor of Dane and Choreographer at Ovation Academy of Performing Arts.
In the fall, I formed my own dance company with some incredible artists from around DFW and we will be launching our inaugural season this summer.
If I am honest most of the obstacles or challenges I faced were of my own making. They developed out of my own self-doubt and fear. I was my own worst enemy, constantly second-guessing myself or comparing my talents and abilities to those around me. I always thought I came up short and that would ultimately lead to a downward spiral where my talents and abilities were not able to be fully displayed or demonstrated. It also led to the development of a pretty severe eating disorder. I was so fixated on making sure I fit the ideal image I suffocated, crippled and almost destroyed my ability to do the very thing I loved the most. I learned from that experience that sometimes the cost is too much and that I am no good for my craft if I first do not take care of my social/emotional well being.
It has taken me a long time to be in a place where I am comfortable and happy, not only in my own skin but in celebrating and not apologizing for who I am and what I bring to the table. There is always going to be competition in this world. There are always going to be people who are better at doing what I do. I can’t let that shape or change who I authentically am and am working to become. Now I work daily at standing in the truth of my inherent value. Surrounding myself with people who no matter what will have your back. I’ve found a small group of people who will tell me like it is – who keep it real with me and will put me in my place if necessary. And, I’ve learned to never sacrifice my voice for the sake of others. My unique perspective and vision is needed in this world. I’m holding true to that and chasing it with all my might.
I am a teacher, first and foremost. It truly is the only thing, other than being a mother, that brings me joy and fulfillment. I have been blessed to be a dance teacher for almost 25 years. Currently, I teach classical ballet, modern, contemporary dance, jazz dance, partnering techniques, Pointe technique, and musical theatre. I choreograph for studios, drill teams, competition solos/duets/groups, full-length musicals and dance productions.
As a teacher, I am sought out for my innovative and unique teaching style that allows students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their fullest potential in minimal time. I’ve developed a keen eye for not only looking at a student and being able to discern the missing pieces or foundational cracks in their technical training but in developing a plan to fill in those gaps and take the dancer to the next level. My students ask me every class to fix them and I love that they are hungry and want to grow and perfect their craft. I have also worked a lot with students who come from traditionally nontechnical dance backgrounds, like hip hop and freestyle, and helped mold them into strong, powerful diverse dancers who excel across a multitude of styles. Also, since my background bridges both the professional world and the collegiate arena (teaching college dance for 13 years), I am uniquely qualified to help my students navigate the waters in both atmospheres.
My former dancers work professionally at American Ballet Theater, Orlando Ballet, Ballet Magnificat, Boston Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater. Additionally, they work as commercial freelance dancers in Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago appearing in videos, as backup dancers and in national/international touring productions of Broadway and Disney shows. My students have also been accepted into some of the most prestigious college dance programs in the country as well as being invited to study in highly selective summer dance intensives both nationally and internationally. I am also the dance teacher of a Grammy award-winning R&B recording artist.
In its purest form, success for me is living and walking in one’s authentic truth – never apologizing for who you are and being brave enough to live a life that brings out the best in you and other people. From a professional perspective as a dance teacher, success for me is never defined solely by talent. It has to be a beautiful marriage of talent, hard work, and balance. Talent opens the door and is the vehicle through which you are seen. Hard work and effort keeps the door open and leads to more opportunity and exposure. Balance allows you to live a life that is not solely defined by your work. It is crucially important to me that not only myself, but my students, don’t get consumed by their work. There must be time to be with friends and family, to rest and relax, and to have time away from the work. My most successful times in life have been when I held that balance in check.
When I am looking at my students to determine future success the markers I am looking at include: active readiness (the ability to be fully mentally and physically present in class or rehearsals), willingness to ask questions and to dive deeper than surface knowledge, active application of corrections that are given to them and a desire to grow and improve each time they stand in front of me, a lack of excuses and personal ownership of the mistakes that they make, a humble and willing spirit that understands that how much they know they still have more to learn, and most importantly for me the willingness to embrace failure as part of their journey.