- January 22, 2020
Iyisha Selph was a member of the dance team, band, choir and ROTC in high school because it kept her busy and out of trouble, she said. She wanted to become a mentor for the next generation of girls, so she started Molding Stars dance company in Winter Garden one year ago last month.
She teaches dance to 20 girls, but she also creates a path to higher learning through educational projects and giving the girls opportunities to give back to their community.
The nonprofit Molding Stars is celebrating its one-year anniversary, and Selph wants to spread empowerment and confidence to even more girls in the community.
Team members dance plenty, but they also bond on trips to places such as WonderWorks and during activities such as skating and bowling.
Selph has her students participate in an essay contest during Black History Month, and they have to write about a historical black person. The girls are rewarded for their efforts, as well as their good grades in school.
“I let them know if they don’t have good grades they can’t dance,” Selph said. “It’s about more than just dance.”
Selph’s daughter, Shania Selph, is one of the three coaches; the other two are Lajoya Manuel and Von Logo.
“My daughter went to dance, and through dance she got a scholarship,” Iyisha Selph said. “You can take this dance and take it as far as getting a scholarship. And that’s what we want the kids to do. Stay out of the streets. Don’t do the bullying, be positive, go to college, and start a career. Come back and do something in your neighborhood.”
The Molding Stars dancers, who range in age from 5 to 18, meet Tuesday through Thursday evenings and have been putting in extra practices in preparation for a competition among 17 teams in Winter Haven March 18.
“Our theme is called ‘Woman King,’” Iyisha Selph said. “It’s a movie starring Viola Davis about the empowerment of women and (we) dance to Beyonce’s ‘Run the World.’ We always want to teach them about strength and empowerment for women. Their strength is important. Their pride is important.”
Dancers are holding fundraisers, including a recent car wash, to purchase uniforms for the competition. Iyisha Selph is working on other ways to raise the money too.
In between contests, the dance team performs at local churches and events, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Parade in Winter Garden in January, where the girls received a trophy for Most Spirit.
Iyisha Selph is hoping to open up her own studio space soon and is working on getting a passenger van to transport her students.