Some of Danie Etienne’s earliest, and fondest, memories of dance are being carried away by the jazz-based rhythms of Haitian kompa music.
Kompa—a mix of electric guitars, vocals, horns, and drumming—began in Haiti in the 1950s and takes its name from the Spanish word for rhythm, compás.
Etienne, a visiting professor of dance and director of the College’s Helen McGehee Visiting Artist Program in Dance, grew up attending Haitian parties in and around her hometown of Fort Myers, Florida.
“I remember, in particular, a moment where I was really feeling the music and others at the party started to take notice,” she said. “I felt compelled to completely surrender to the music, letting it take me on a journey. I got so swept away, I didn’t realize I attracted an audience. That’s when I knew I was in love with dance.”
She began her dance training as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, where she discovered an interest in dance film and choreography explored within the context of Black femininity.
Etienne also holds a master of fine arts in choreography and performance from Florida State University. She’s worked with award-winning artists including Stephanie Batten Bland, Juel D. Lane, Jawole Zollar, Ron K. Brown, and Davalois Fearon.
When and how did you start teaching?
During my undergraduate career, I performed and trained in various dance organizations that offered its members a chance to create and teach choreography. I decided to volunteer to teach a couple of classes and really enjoyed it. What I love the most about teaching is being able to share space and community with intelligent and artistic minds.
Describe your teaching style. What can students expect in your classes?
My classes are student-centered, encouraging them to be the driver in their own learning process. I impress upon my students that they are more familiar with their bodies than I am because of their lived experiences. I take a collaborative approach to instruction, allowing myself to learn alongside them, supporting them, and providing them with resources they may need. I encourage students to make mistakes to remove the idea of perfection and encourage them to push past failure. Students are invited to learn from their mistakes, not to be discouraged by them.
What attracted you to the job at Randolph?
What attracted me to Randolph is how warm and welcoming its faculty, staff, and students are. There is an electrifying energy that is felt all throughout campus that I haven’t felt at any other institution.
What are your initial impressions of Randolph and its students?
Randolph College has one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. I’m taken aback by the beauty I’m surrounded by every day. My initial impression of students is their kindness.
What do you like to do outside of the classroom as far as hobbies or other activities?
I love to paint, make music and dance, play with my dog and take long drives. I’m currently learning how to sew and make my own clothes.