The Greenville story of: Jaidra DuRant

A biological fire dancer that has the essentials

Photo credit: John Gillespie

By: Eric Swofford

What would you say is the most interesting fact about yourself?

I know a little too much about the mating habits of insects from my time studying entomology. 

I am a fire dancer, which is dancing with fire props, including fire palms, fire fans, fire staff, fire belt, and fire headdress.

How long have you been in the Greenville area?

I moved here at the end of 2009. The interesting thing is that my mother and grandmother grew up here.

What is your story? Your background?

From an educational standpoint, I have an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of South Carolina, a Masters degree in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development from the University of Georgia, and I started a PhD in Entomology, which I did not finish, at the University of Riverside in California. 

I grew up in Chapin, SC and throughout SC in both the theater and in the wilderness because my father was a cinematographer with the wildlife department in SC and my mother was a producer/director at SC ETV.

My mom is very theatrical. I was always in the theater, I was always outside, I was always making art. Those things really influenced me to move past just the science and move into more of an art and movement-based business which is what I do now. 

I find that my background is art and theater and nature and a love of all of those things.

If you are currently reading and/or watching something, what would that be?

I’m reading a book about dance anatomy, which describes the musculature you utilize when you dance and perform specific dance movements. I’m reading The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. And I’m reading a book on medicinal plants.

What are your hobby(s)?

Hiking, cooking, and making salves, which utilize herbs in essential oils in making my own skin and health products.

What is the phrase that you live by?

Be kind. Kindness is free and we don’t have enough of it.

If you work, who do you work for?

NIAD (Naturally Inspired Art & Dance) We create a space where people can feel empowered and self-confident through movement. I really focus on what is called transnational fusion dance. We seek to honor the roots of middle eastern/east african/eastern eurorpean/western asia folk dances while seeking the artistry and creativity that we can find in the wings of those dances.

What is your day-to-day at work? If unemployed or retired, what is your day-to-day throughout Greenville?

Mornings at home on the computer. I go to the gym and spend the afternoon and evenings in the studio working on choreography, visual art projects, class plans, and teaching private lessons and classes in the evenings.

How would you describe Greenville?

Changing

How would Greenville describe Jaidra?

Different, entertaining and empowering. I hope, that’s what we try to do here. My dance students have described us as empowering

Besides your residence or place of work, where is your favorite Greenville morning hangout?

Paris Mountain, I like hiking in the morning.

How about your evening hangout?

On First Fridays, we like to go down to the village or to Artistry. I like art galleries.

What about Greenville makes you proud, likely the reasons you are still here?

There are so many good people here. I’ve had a lot of positive experience with people I’ve met in Greenville.

What is your happiest Greenville moment?

In 2014, my husband proposed to me at Paris Mountain. That was a really really happy moment. 

I’ve danced a lot around Greenville at different festivals. I love the Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Faire. I love to perform and bringing that to people. I like big groups of people that are happy.

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