When Miranda Ashley moved to Brownwood from Harlingen earlier this year, her plan was to open a dance studio.
After all, the energetic young woman’s life has been focused on dancing for almost two decades — and that’s saying a lot, because she turns 20 this month.
“I’ve been dancing since I was 3, so that’s almost two decades,” she said with a smile. More significantly, she has been teaching dance since she was 12.
But before any dance studio could be developed, Ashley found the Lyric Theatre, and there she has found a home.
Ashley was the choreographer for the Lyric’s major musical last month, “South Pacific,” and worked with intermediate and middle school students in the Lyric’s summer workshop. That session concluded with a public production of “Disney’s The Lion King Jr.” last weekend.
Friends she met at the Church of Christ she started attending put her in contact with Eric Evans and Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, respectively the managing and artistic directors of the Lyric. They quickly found projects for Ashley within the theater.
“I was looking exactly for something like this,” Ashley said. “God’s timing is always perfect.”
Ashley said she is impressed with the talent the Lyric Theatre has available for its productions, adding that the performers in “South Pacific” especially were “amazing.”
“I was expecting a little less than this,” she said. “I was surprised how much talent we have in our community. They had fun. They enjoyed themselves, and that’s all that matters.”
Ashley said those who doubt their ability to dance should give it a try.
“If you can walk or run, you can learn to dance,” she said with assurance.
Ashley has trained with small studios as well as Broadway stars, and with the principal dancer of the Moscow Ballet. She has earned titles such as International Dancer of the Year from the International Modeling and Talent Association.
Ashley is versed in a wide variety of dance styles, including ballet, tap, jazz, ballroom, hip-hop, lyrical, modern, contemporary, musical theater and line dancing. She’s also familiar with German, French and Russian forms of dance.
“There’s a huge difference in each,” she said.
Now that the series of summer shows has been completed at the Lyric, Ashley is preparing to offer dance lessons beginning in the fall — under the Lyric Theatre banner. Details should be announced in the near future.
Based on her work choreographing “The Lion King Jr.,” which featured students in the sixth through ninth grades, Ashley said the talent pool in the Brownwood area runs deep.
“I was blown away by how talented the students in the workshop were,” Ashley said. “I was surprised at how well they picked things up. They were willing to learn, they took direction, and their performance was amazing.”