Arts NC State is pleased to present the “Meet the Arts NC State Directors” series. This spotlight features Tara Mullins, director of the Dance Program. Read on to discover what recent societal issues Mullins has been moved to address and express through dance.
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Tara Mullins finds home and community through her family and dance – from NC to Italy.
What is your name? Position at Arts NC State? Other connections to NC State?
I’m Tara Mullins, director of the Dance Program. This is my tenth year at NC State. I have more connections to NC State through two of my children. My daughter, Gracie, is a freshman at NC State in Exploratory Studies and my son, Nick, is a 7th grader at Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School.
Background/interest in the arts that led to today?
I started dancing in high school at a studio that encouraged us to choreograph. As a junior in high school, I attended the summer Governor’s School for the Arts in Richmond, Virginia where we also choreographed pieces. I fell in love with making dances. In undergrad at James Madison University I was introduced to community engagement work in nursing homes and schools and I also began teaching dance to a variety of ages. My graduate work at Arizona State was focused on community programming in the arts.
What are three words that you would use to describe the NC State Dance Program?
Meaningful, Engaging, Collaborative
What are you excited about with regard to the NC State Dance Program and the 2021/2022 academic year?
I am excited about being able to make new community connections. We hope to work with both Southeast Raleigh Elementary and Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School. We also plan to have our third annual STEAM event for high school students that includes a dance class, a STEAM panel with NC State students, and concert tickets.
I am also thrilled with this year’s line-up for the Lunchbox Series, and believe these sessions will offer insightful and significant conversations. The first session will be held on October 13 and will include a conversation with a choreographer, Lorelei Williams, who brings awareness to missing and murdered indigenous women. I was also excited to choreograph a piece for the Art of Remembrance, an event curated by Carol Nix of the Crafts Center to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This event will also be included in a Lunchbox Series session. Our other Lunchbox Series offerings are equally engaging!
If you had to name one thing that you are most proud of in your career, what is it?
Most recently I have been proud of a digital project I co-created during the early stages of the pandemic. I call it a true “pandemic pivot.” The project began as a live multimedia dance piece that included filmed interviews with members of our NC State community who told their immigration stories. Once the pandemic shut things down and the concert was canceled, we pivoted to creating a new website to tell these stories. It was such an honor to learn about the ancestral history of our community members, while also having the opportunity to share my own.
What is the one thing you cannot resist?
Time with my family and french fries (ok that is two).
What is the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I worked in home health while I was dancing in a company in Washington DC. This work taught me a lot about aging, compassion, humility, and storytelling.
Where is your favorite place to be and why?
At home or in Italy, Puerto Rico, or Duck, NC! Those places feel like home to me.