Dance & Movement

Marcia's Dance Journey brings active expression

“Come take an energizing modern dance and stretch class that will move your spirit and lift your soul,’” reads the welcome message for Marcia’s Dance Journey.

“Why don’t you come join us?” dance instructor and founder MARCIA WARNER asks. “That’s the best way to experience it.”

It had been a long time since I took a dance class. I was readying for a phone interview, still the norm during pandemic times, but I couldn’t resist the warm, in-person invitation.

A full-time dance teacher for Wilmington School of the Arts, Warner brings music, movement, and dance education to various venues around Wilmington. Over the past few years, she’s hosted periodic dance classes via Zoom and several live classes at Hi-Wire Brewery. And now, Marcia’s Dance Journey moves community into 2022 with regular programming at the Hannah Block Center including “Get Yourself in Shape” dance and stretch classes.

“I most love educating people of all ages, all sizes. Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re too fat, too black…too anything to dance,” she says. “There are no cookie-cutter dancers. We all can dance!”

Warner’s twenty-plus years in the field of dance involved key years of training in American modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham’s renowned philosophy of dance. Always taken with movement, Warner’s college courses led to English and dance classes abroad.

She trained in the Martha Graham technique while in England, and upon returning to the states, Warner sought out the Graham way of life. This led her to Lansing, Michigan, whose community college featured a Graham program, and an eventual move to New York City, where Warner earned a master’s in dance education from New York University.

She also formed Emancia Dance Company, a project that attracted highly driven students from all walks of life. In 2007, Warner took a teaching position in Robinson County, North Carolina, before moving to Wilmington to grow a new type of dance community.

“The dance company was my baby till I had my babies,” says the mother of three. “Now, I fit in what I like to and bring it to others. And my babies are involved in what Momma loves!”

Today’s class includes a mother of three young boys; several of Warner’s regular elementary-aged students, including an eight-year-old who avoids the mirror; Warner’s youngest daughter, who likes to demonstrate the movements; and me.

“I incorporate everything I’ve learned–African, jazz, modern, ballet, yoga, and stress-relieving stretch,” says Warner, of the morning’s menu of rhythm. She models each move into the back studio’s front wall of mirrors, I see how different beats inspire a variety of movements.

The music shifts, and Warner asks a question. “What’s the hardest part of dance?”

I recall the complex sequences for high school performance and my constant desire to write things down. “Remembering the steps!?” I reply.

“Nah,” says Marcia. “The hardest part of dance is walking across the stage.”

This is the first impression, she explains. You’re waiting offstage, readying for your big entrance, and then—showtime. Time to walk onstage.

Head up, shoulders back, legs slightly turned out, feet striding confidently across the hardwood floor. Two at a time, we walk across the floor. I try to keep my gaze on the far wall, where our entrance will reach its natural end, but my 8-year-old partner sneaks a peek into the mirror. She smiles.

To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to

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Categories: Health