HottyToddy.com is wowed by these ladies’ talent, success and their meaningful roles in Oxford and Ole Miss communities. The 10s of Oxford to us represent all that is admirable about our town.
Lydia Siniard is a co-founder of Hinge Dance Company at the Powerhouse, a teacher at Southern Star Yoga Center and associate director at Oxford Academy of Dance Arts.
She was born in Cartersville, Georgia, and began dancing at 3 years old. She is a classically trained dancer in five categories: ballet, pointe and contemporary, jazz and tap. She moved to Oxford in 2005 as a student of University of Mississippi and graduated with a bachelor of arts in English.
“After being at Ole Miss about 3 weeks, I realized just how much I missed dancing and pursued any type of dance I could find,” Siniard said. She danced at local adult classes, dance classes with the theatre department on campus and teaching at local studios.
It was during this time she created a student-led dance company, Hinge, where students and Oxonians directed, choreographed, produced and marketed recitals as a space to freely express their artistry with movement. Siniard credited its success to the large presence of students on campus who used to dance but thought they shouldn’t have to hand up their dancing shoes post high school graduation. Like Siniard they had the “dancing itch,” and found an outlet in Hinge.
In 2011, Siniard created Hinge Dance Company, LLC, with Lindsay Fine and moved the company off campus. Wayne Andrews at the Powerhouse along with Yoknapatawpha Arts Council supported the company right away, and the company found its residency at the Powerhouse. Siniard and Fine hold bi-annual auditions for their concerns in the spring and fall. The company is comprised of university students from undergrad to recently graduated. There is an upcoming performance, “Changes” this Nov. 6 and 7 at the Powerhouse. Along with general seating there will be some table seating with complimentary bottles of wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Siniard is passionate about movement and made yoga a part of her talents in 2008 from a study abroad trip in Paris with Ann Fisher-Wirth. Siniard said since returning to United States she followed Fisher-Wirth wherever she taught yoga be it in Bondurant’s basement or upstairs conference room and even the Train Depot. Eventually Fisher-Wirth lead her to Southern Star Yoga Center where she began teaching. Siniard began to practice yoga more often there but it was her mother back in Georgia who went through a 200 hours teacher’s training program in Cartersville in 2011 who got Siniard to return to Georgia for the intensive training with Etowah Valley Yoga. She is now a registered yoga teacher (RYT)-500 and close to completing her professional yoga therapy certification. She now teaches six classes a week at Southern Star. Her classes range from gentle to all-levels to hot yoga.
“My favorite thing to tell people who are discouraged from trying yoga because of their current body’s condition is that ‘Flexibility is a bi-product of yoga, not a requirement,” Siniard said. “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Siniard said the university athletes have frequented her classes and others at Southern Star. She said high profile athletes such as Denzel Nkemdiche incorporated a yoga practice into their schedule because they enjoyed the benefits of yoga.
She adores running and directing Oxford Academy of Dance Arts, a local dance studio for dancers ages three and up. It offers a variety of classes: creative movement, ballet and tap combo, ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary and hip-hop. There are also adult classes for those who formerly danced and misses those days and those who never got to try and want to now.
“When I was a child, I dreamed of being an adult and owning my own dance studio and to actually get to live that dream is pretty cool,” Siniard said. “I remind myself daily to be grateful for the work I get to do and the chance to give back. I love hearing from moms that their daughters won’t leave them alone because they’re talking about dance or constantly working on something we did in class. To be able to spark a passion that you have about something in someone else is truly a rewarding experience as a teacher (no matter what subject)!”
Kelly Whitten is the owner of The Clay Canvas. She and her husband bought the Clay Canvas last year and relocated the business to 1015 N. Lamar Blvd. This is their first year running the business.
Whitten said buying the business was a timing of inspiration and a well-timed Facebook post from The Clay Canvas’ previous owners offering it for sale. She works in the building every day with new creative ideas for customers to paint and glaze their own figurines. She kept an ear out for any requests and ordered whatever figurines the customers wishes.
This past June she read Friends of Mounted Patrol’s plea for donations and within a heartbeat she reached out to the Mounted Patrol and offered a painting festival where she donated 10 percent of her sales to the patrol. That day was met with success as a large crowd came out to pet the mounted patrol horses and painted figurines to help raise money for them.
“If we all worked together, like in the old days when people reached out to each other in hard times, I think we can do a great thing for Oxford,” Whitten said of that day.
Robin Street is a lecturer in journalism and public relations at University of Mississippi for 20 years. She teaches public relations and feature writing. She holds both a M.A. degree in journalism and a M.S. degree in wellness from University of Mississippi.
Street is also president and co-founder of the Oxford-Ole Miss chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM). Street’s work has earned her more than 20 awards from PRAM and the Southern Public Relations Federation, the most recent being the highest professional honor and recognition awarded by the Southern Public Relations (SPRF).
Her notable work includes the 2011 Diversity Rocks campaign which won best in show at PRAM and SPRF. It was also the runner-up for the Silver Anvil award given by the Public Relations Society of America, an Oscar to those in the P.R. fields. She also won “Strong Woman” award for mentorship from Baptist Women’s Services in 2006 as well as being named “P.R. Educator of the Year” by both PRAM and SPRF in 2009.
Street is also a freelance journalist with her topics on fitness, preventive health and nutrition and mental health. She has published more than 75 health articles in The Clarion-Ledger as well as publication in national magazines such as Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping and Cooking Light and Writer’s Digest and Golf for Women.
Callie Daniels is a reporter for HottyToddy.com. Write her at email@example.com for comments, criticisms and/or story ideas.