Dance builds connection to community

Molly Mitchell, Ashley Miller, Reanna Swinford, Olivia Wood, Lindsey Downs, Kelsey Schoenmeyer, Amy Blacker and Faith Nolen at Johnny Ray's in Pelham. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Reanna Grissom Swinford has been a dancer since the age of 4. Today, Reanna and her husband, Julian Swinford, own Johnny Ray’s BBQ on Huntley Parkway in Pelham.

Swinford spent 10 years of her dancing career at Jennifer Friedman’s Dance Et Cetera Studio.

“I went to other studios before Dance Et Cetera, but Jenn has the perfect balance of structure that keeps dance fun!” Swinford said.

Today, with a 6-year-old stepdaughter and a 2-year-old son, Swinford has little free time.

“I continued teaching at Dance Et Cetera the first year we were running the restaurant. Being pregnant for the first seven months, our restaurant was open and teaching at the dance studio was overwhelming,” said Swinford. “With the kids and the restaurant, my life gets crazy, but I wouldn’t change a thing!”

Swinford stays in touch with friends from Dance Et Cetera. Ashley Miller is an old friend.

“Reanna and I were Pantherettes together at Pelham High School. She was a freshman when I was a senior,” Miller said.

Both dancers are alums of Pelham High School and Dance Et Cetera. Currently, Miller and Amy Blacker sponsor the studio’s Junior Dance Troupe.

“Reanna and I were talking when we had the idea for a Junior Troupe fundraiser. I think teaching teens to work for what they want is important,” Miller said. “Knowing they put in hard work to earn money for their expenses pays off in the end.”

“We are always willing to help groups with a cause. We love doing fundraisers!” Swinford said.

“Working as a waitress for a night was a great experience,” Dancer Kelsey Schoenmeyer said. “I would love to do it again.”

“I love it when friends and my former dance students come by,” Swinford said. “We have great family packages for take out, daily lunch specials and weeknight specials.”

Reanna Swinford will always be a dancer at heart. She is also a Pelham Panther alumna giving back to her community. Stop by Johnny Ray’s on Huntley Parkway for a warm greeting, incredible food and a chance to plan your group’s next fundraising success.