By Kharisma McIlwaine
The non-scripted TV series “Bring It!” has been making waves on the Lifetime Network since 2014. The show highlights the lives of The Dancing Dolls, a nationally recognized competing dance troupe. The Dancing Dolls were founded in 2001 by Dianna Williams, affectionally known as Miss D or Coach D. Since their start, they have become one of the most well-known dancing troupes in the entire country. With hundreds of trophies and 15 grand championships to show for it, The Dancing Dolls continue to make their mark on the dance world.
Coach D and The Dancing Dolls are currently on a 28-city national tour with “Bring It! Live The Dance Battle Tour.” Williams spoke with the SUN about taking the show on the road again, the competition, setting an example for the girls and her plans for the future.
Williams fell in love with dance at just 4-years-old. She cultivated her love for dance by studying. She’s well versed in ballet, modern, jazz, belly dancing and tap. She continued honing her craft and performance through cheerleading, drill team, majorettes and twirlers and served as both the vice president and choreographer of the Jackson Association for Majorettes, and the costume designer for the Jackson State University Twirlers at her alma mater, Jackson State University. Her love for dance and the shining example of leadership she saw in her grandmother, eventually led Miss D to become Coach D.
“I’ve been around kids for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I started The Dancing Dolls when I was 21-years-old. My grandmother had a daycare called Pied Piper Playhouse where she cultivated young African American kids from the community. She created this business in the late 1960’s, during a time where African Americans weren’t really starting businesses, let along an African American woman being the boss and being in charge. So, I grew up watching my grandmother with this business and I said you know what, at some point in my life I’m going to be working with kids. My mom fostered and adopted children… it was just in me.”
The show “Bring It!” highlights the world of competitive dance battles. Williams spoke about the niche The Dancing Dolls carved into the dancing world.
“The Dancing Dolls have created this competitive lifestyle where we mix hip-hop and majorette,” she said. “They compete against other teams where there’s a faceoff. This is an in-your-face dance battle and there’s a lot of entertainment value that comes with it. It’s very fun and it’s unique in every way.”
Fans of the show look forward to seeing the preparation of the dancers as well as the exciting face-offs between the competition on each episode. The competition element will definitely be present in the “Bring It! Live” tour as well. Williams spoke about the differences between their experiences on the show and their experiences on the road.
“Everything is different! On the show there are storylines and there’s editing… you don’t hear the real music on TV,” she said. “On tour they can’t edit me! They can’t change the music and it’s a live, up-front, close and personal view. I get the chance to really just be me. Now I’m me on TV, yes, I am… but in real life I’m a completely different individual. You know when you hang out with different people that are your friends, or when you talk to them on the phone but when you hang out in person they are completely different people… that’s me all day long. I’m a lot of fun in person!”
“Bring It! Live” has wowed audiences all over the country on three national tours. The fourth tour promises to give audiences more of what they love, as well as a few surprises. Williams shared her excitement for being on the road for the fourth time and offered insight on what audiences can expect.
“It’s actually surreal,” she said. “After the very first tour we didn’t know what to expect. We knew we had a great product when it comes to the team itself, but to even have the team turn into a TV show, and the TV show turn into a tour, it’s amazing! Now we’re going into our 4th year touring all over the country.”
“I would just say prepare yourself for the biggest rock concert you’ve ever been to in your entire life,” Williams continued. “Have on comfortable shoes and come ready to dance. There’s no telling whether or not you’re going to be one of the ones that’s going to get pulled out of the crowd! This year’s dance battle tour is just what it says… it is a dance battle where the audience is pulled in and they go round for round competing. Our fans actually go for it. It is so much fun coming to the “Bring It Live! Tour.” Not only do you get a chance to see your favorite Dancing Dolls, you get to listen to me have a roasting session like I’m on Def Comedy Jam. Then you get an opportunity to be the entertainment. You buy your ticket to be entertained and then the crowd ends up being the entertainment… go figure.”
Williams does not take for granted the opportunities she has been given to be a blessing to many. Although she has fought through her own set of challenges to get to where she is today, she shared her gratitude for being able to be a source of encouragement for others.
“There are some days where I’ve said, ‘I can’t do this,’ but I have to remember why I’m doing it in the first place and who’s watching and depending on me,” she said. “Just like Tyler Perry said on the BET Awards… dreamers’ dreams are connected to so many other people. So many other people’s dreams are connected to what it is that you do and who you are. It’s important to me that I remember that I am inspiring so many people and that people are depending on me to give them a word or an inspirational quote. Ever since I started the Dancing Dolls, even before I started the TV show, I’ve always prayed. Some people come to the show to receive that word because we always pray before the show. You never know how the small things you say and do impact other people’s lives.”
Dianna Williams and The Dancing Dolls will continue to inspire and entertain the masses. In addition to the show and live tour, Coach D has her hands full with a number of other endeavors. She currently has an Emoji available for purchase in the Apple Store (which shows her doing her famous death drop), a book, a Coach D Barbie doll and she recently signed a collaboration deal with a major makeup line. The tour is continuing to help her build her personal platform and she encourages The Dancing Dolls to follow suit.
“Bring It! Live The Dance Battle Tour” will be in Philadelphia for one night only on Thursday, July 11. Visit: www.kimmelcenter.org for more information on tickets and showtimes. To keep up with Coach D, follow her on Instagram @mrs_d2u and @i_am_diana on Twitter.