Joe Milliano: The tap dancing teacher

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Ashlyn Gillespie

Seniors Abigayle Dorrance, Sophie Reidt and choreographer Joe Milliano rehearse a tap routine to go along with the song "Toledo Surprise" from “Drowsy Chaperone." Milliano assisted with auditions and choreography in preparation for the musical. “[The actors] don't have the tap experience but everyone that's working in the musical has a 'can-do' attitude of 'if I work hard at this and I practice I know I can make this happen.' That's what makes it so much fun. And I know that with the hard work that the students are putting in that we will get a great end result as a result of that,” Milliano said.

Down the science hallway in room 1408, the new AP Physics 1 and 2 teacher Joe Milliano also assists the theatre department as the resident tap choreographer.

Milliano has a hobby that sets him apart from other teachers: he tap dances.  

“I’ve been [tap dancing] since first grade.  The summer before I started, I went to the Muny and saw “Singing in the Rain.” I saw them doing their tap dancing stuff and [I was] like, ‘hey, that looks pretty fun’ so my mom signed me up for some classes and I just kept going. Ever since, I [have] absolutely loved it,” Milliano said. 

Milliano is assisting the theatre department in the upcoming production of the “Drowsy Chaperone” alongside head of choreography Patrick Mooney and director Amie Gossett.

“Considering that tap dancing is not my forté, I appreciate working with someone else who has my same dance mindset and aesthetic. I also love that our math and physics brains are doing something so artistic as to come up with the visual choreography for the musical,” Mooney said.

Courtesy of Joe Milliano
Resident tap expert Joe Milliano prepares an audition dance for actors in the “Drowsy Chaperone.”

Between teaching physics and choreographing the “Drowsy Chaperone,” Milliano also teaches at the L.A. Dance Center in Florissant, Mo. 

“It’s mostly a hobby [and] it’s a combo of a hobby and a side hustle of getting a little bit of extra money because I’m living that teacher life,” Miliano said. “It’s mostly for fun [because] it’s a way to keep me involved in the dance world and also get [the opportunity] to pass it on to younger people and I have a really good time while I do it.”

Milliano enjoys working with people to drive the community forward. 

“I’m also a very science, math and brain type of person and I was really good at those,” Milliano said. “I thought about going into some careers where I could use those skills and earn a lot more money, but when I did some internships in college, I found that the day to day work on what I was doing was just draining me. It was soul-sucking and two hours felt like it took 10 hours to pass. Whereas when I’m teaching, I blink and it’s 2:30 p.m. [The] day is already over. So, I get to combine my math and science skills [with] my desire to build community in this job.”