On the record: Rebecca Chandler

Some people feel like they have no choice but to create and be creative. Southern Miss grad Rebecca Chandler is one of those people.

We can only speculate what pushes a person to express themselves publicly, but it's these people who are responsible for the propagation of our culture and without these talented individuals, society would stagnate.

Visual artists and musicians that we hold in high esteem are typically at the forefront of the performing lifestyle, but there are many more forms of art.

Chandler – a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and an award-winning Hattiesburg mover and shaker – is a shining example of someone who excels in the art of creating.

Most of us know about Hattiesburlesque – the singing, dancing, live music accompanied, theatrical performance that takes place bi-annually at the Thirsty Hippo.

If you've been lucky enough to catch one of these exclusive performances (available for three nights only), you've experienced the dedication and vison of Chandler and her co-creator, Abigail Allen.

This magnificent body of work lead-choreographer Chandler has produced is spectacularly executed by Burlesque’s members, all of whom work together tirelessly to ensure a spicy, enjoyable performance and one you can witness for yourself Oct. 17-19 on the 5th anniversary of the production.

Hattiesburlesque is but one of several accolades possessed by Chandler. Her day-to-day life is centered around her business, Hattiesburg Ball Room and Beyond, where she conducts private and group dance lessons in a wide variety of styles. Her influence in the realm of dance does not stop there, however; for nearly seven years, Chandler has assumed the responsibility of head coach for the dance team for the USM basketball program, the Southern Misses.

Chandler and Allen's work together doesn't stop at Hattiesburlesque, either. The Choir and Theater Department of Sacred Heart School proudly utilizes the decades of combined performing experience possessed by the choreography duo.

While the performing youth of Sacred Heart are lucky to have such quality knowledge at their disposal, neither of these aforementioned women's community involvement ends at the school.

With Chandler, this is exhibited with the non-profit Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera. The HCLO has been responsible for more than 120 theatrical productions since its founding in 1976. Recently appointed vice president of the HCLO board, Chandler’s duties include taking part in show selection, fundraising, and community outreach.

When asked why she expends all these efforts, even without the prospect of financial compensation, Chandler replied that she revels in seeing "different disciplines" working together because "theater, music, and dance don't have to be separate."

In fact, it seems in Chandler's view that not only should the arts work together, but the artists themselves should have the confidence and freedom to explore creating and performing in whatever platform they wish to pursue.

“You should never be afraid to collaborate with other disciplines,” she said. “Especially if you can help each other. It’s like we always say: Art makes Art makes Art.”

From her admirers’ perspective, this is the embodiment of Chandler's role in our community.

Hattiesburg has had a significant culture for a very long time. This is due in part, of course, to the fantastic art programs at USM, but the people it produces are key to what makes the school and our city great.

Talent and knowledge are valued everywhere and held by many, but the courage to create lies only in the hands of a few. It is here that we find Rebecca Chandler's most beautiful art: the art of creation.


When Stevens isn’t performing with his band, Shagnolia, he can be found producing the District Sound Wave podcast with his partner in crime, “Electric” Thomas Pittman. Listen to the episode featuring Midnight Revel on Spotify and at: district.libsyn.com

Photo by Steve Coleman