of Dr. Melanie Milow
Dr. Driver-Milow began dancing in her home city of Flint, MI. In 1993 she attended the University of Rochester where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and through her vision and dedication crafted, implemented, and received the first Bachelor of Arts in Dance Studies with an emphasis in Mind/Body Connection ever awarded in University’s over 150 year history. She then became a member of Brazz Dance Theater, and under the direction of Artistic Director Augusto Soldade, received several solo roles as well as the opportunity travel to Bahia, Brazil. In the fall of 1999 she became the recipient of the Underrepresented Minority Fellowship, allowing her to study dance at the graduate level at the State University of New York College at Brockport. She then joined the Sankofa African Dance and Drumming Ensemble as the Graduate Teaching and Touring Assistant as well as a performer. Under the mentorship of Professor Clyde Morgan, she traveled with the ensemble, in addition to accompanying Professor Morgan on several Young Audiences of Rochester engagements.
As an MFA student, Dr. Driver-Milow became known for her intensely magnetic stage presence and raw performance style. Through passion and unique honesty, her choreography acquired a reputation for having the ability to connect with audiences at all levels. She continued to enrich her dance education and hone her choreographic and performance skills by taking part in a number of student works, community performances, and thesis presentations, culminating in her own doctoral thesis work “Spirit of a People”. In spring of 2002 she was selected as the dance finalist for the prestigious Thayer Fellowship/Patricia Kerr Ross Award, offered throughout the SUNY school system. As a visionary with a commitment to fusing communities and cultures through dance, she dedicated several summer months crafting and implementing dance programs throughout the city of Rochester, NY.
Since graduating from SUNY Brockport Dr. Driver-Milow has continued to craft original work and perform as a solo artist. In 2003 her performance ensemble M*SHAKA*FUSION, LLC debuted their first original work- The United Rhythm Alliance Presents: Mama Griot. Since it’s creation the group has presented work at the New York International Dance Festival, and Gus Giordano’s World Jazz Congress as part of Leo’s Choreography event. In August of 2006 Dr. Driver-Milow took part in the Boulder Fringe Festival, where she was selected as ‘Pick of the Fringe’, and was given her own solo show. She has served on the board of the Denver Independent Choreographer’s Project. She has also served on the planning committees of The National Performing Arts Convention- through DanceUSA, The Denver Kwanzaa Committee, and the International Association of Blacks in Dance. Dr. Driver-Milow continues to create and perform as an Independent Dance Artist, presenting work in Rochester, NY, Litchfield, CT, NYC, Flint, MI, Aspen, CO, and Denver, CO. During the academic period of spring 2007- fall 2008, she served as a part time Professor of Dance at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. During her two years at Metro she has successfully created and implemented new African/Diaspora dance curriculum, improvisation and choreography courses, end of semester student dance concerts, and an interdisciplinary relationship with both the Metropolitan State African Drum Ensemble and University of Colorado’s Theatre Department. Dr. Driver-Milow served as a guest lecturer at the University of Wyoming from spring 2007-fall 2008. She has also participated in artistic collaborations with artists such as CLUTCH, William Elliot Whitmore, and Citridelic/ US Pipe.
In April of 2008 Dr. Driver-Milow completed a four week run of her first full evening length solo work, “Pleasure, Pain, and Shards of Soul: A journey through the labyrinth of my cosmic mind”, at the Denver Crossroads Threatre, in Denver, CO. In June of 2009, Ms. Milow’s dance focused production company, M*SHAKA*FUSION, LLC presented “The Cracked Dome Benefit Concert: A Celebration of Life”, where part of the proceeds went to the Colorado Brain Trust. In September of 2009 Dr. Driver-Milow worked as the Assistant Stage Manager as well as a featured performer in NYC’s Keigwin + Company’s “Bolero Colorado”, created in conjunction with Ecoarts, University of Denver’s’ Newman Center for the Performing Arts, and Denver School of the Arts. In 2009 Dr. Driver-Milow was a featured interview for Dr. Jack R. Rollwagen’s documentary “Life in an American Village”. She is currently the first Dance research scholar for the University of Rochester.
After sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2007, Dr. Driver-Milow has become an outspoken advocate for people with TBI’s, and this has lead her to research, create, and implement the “Because Dance Heals” project. Her other interests include Art and Education, advancing the field of dance, helping to establishing a School of Performing Arts in her home town of Flint, MI, and creating a sister city relationship between Denver, CO and Flint, MI, based in sustainable communities and green technology.