Bringing baton twirling back to Minnesota
When Jacinda Miller was 6 years old, her mom signed her up for a baton twirling class. Little did her mom know it would become a lifetime passion for Miller.
"I started and I really loved it," said Miller.
Miller started competing shortly after and did so through college. Now as a teacher, the Rosemount resident hopes to instill passion for the sport in a new generation.
Miller moved to Minnesota in 1999 and has slowly but steadily done her part to revive the sport of baton twirling in Minnesota. She started by teaching classes through community education. Eventually she had enough students to start offering classes most nights of the week. She rented space from Rosemount United Methodist Church.
"I was renting space from the church almost every night of the week," said Miller.
In 2010 Miller opened her own studio, Dance-Twirl Minnesota, off of Diffley Road and Robert St. It is the only baton twirling and dance studio in Minnesota.
The studio serves more than 100 students ranging in skill from novice to advanced. Twirling can be done individually or as a group. Miller said twirling requires athleticism and develops hand-eye coordination.
While most of her students are female, Miller said boys can participate as well. She said America's Got Talent contestant Jonathan Burkin is an example of a male baton twirler.
"It isn't just for girls," said Miller.
The studio has a competitive twirling program. Shortly before moving into their studio space, a group from her studio won a National Championship. Miller said her twirlers consistently place in the top 10 at nationals and she hopes to bring home another championship.
There are other opportunities, too. Miller said twirlers and dancers from her studio perform at events including the Rosemount Leprechaun Days Parade and a Timberwolves game.
In 2013, baton twirlers will perform at the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Miller said the annual carnival used to feature baton twirling and she's excited to bring it back.
In fact, baton twirling had mostly died in Minnesota. Miller's not sure why it fell out of favor, but she's been working since she moved here to bring it back. There have been lots of challenges building up a baton program in Minnesota, but Miller said she feels like things are headed in the right direction.
"Seeing the kids get so into it is exciting," said Miller.
There are opportunities for baton twirlers including college scholarships. Miller said people often don't realize how much opportunity there is in the sport.
Miller hopes Minnesota will eventually be recognized as one of the top states for baton twirling. Whether that happens or not, though, she's just happy to be able to introduce the sport and all it has to offer to a new generation.
To learn more about visit dance-twirlmn.com or call 651-705-6631.