At Founder’s Day this year, Anthony Mayfield, a full-time worker at The Grille, was on duty. Behind the south-side counter, Mayfield organized and re-stocked cupcakes and other appetizers for the event. During lulls in his work, I remember my friend Jessie and I trying to persuade him to dance with us from the other side of the counter. “It’s a party: you have to dance!” Jessie, a friend of Mayfield and student co-worker in Cafe Mac, yelled laughingly over the music. He grinned, waving us away.
Two weeks later, I asked him about his hobbies and he mentioned his love for dancing. “What kind of dancing?” I asked. He listed them off: bachata, waltz, salsa, merengue, Argentine tango, rumba, single-step swing, triple-step swing. “Dancing incorporates happiness, incorporates sadness, incorporates anger,” he said philosophically. This passion for dance, and his investment in what he reveres as the most potent physical expression of self, led him to accept a job offer from Arthur Murray, an international dance studio—and that’s the reason he came to Minnesota.
Before working with Bon Appetit, Mayfield not only excelled as a ballroom and Latin dancer at Arthur Murray, but also taught swing-dancing lessons at the Wabasha Caves, a favorite spot for many Mac students and Minnesota residents. From 2009-2011—from the time that he was 14 years old until he was 16—Mayfield did competitive dancing. Mayfield competed in a group called KILENT, who traveled to Oakland, CA for the event Jerking Against Crumping. The first half of the group name stands for “Keeping it Lit,” because in Mayfield’s words, “People said jerking was going to die, so we came up with ‘Keeping it Lit’ to keep it alive—to pass the torch.”
Before Mayfield came to the Twin Cities to develop his dancing career, he was born and raised in California. In addition to dreaming of being a dancer, he also relished opportunities to sing and be on stage. “In church, I was the choir director. Since then I’ve just always wanted to be on stage and just rock it.” Mayfield is inspired by artists like Lana Del Ray, Adele, Sam Smith and Jessie J, among others, and is especially fond of soft songs. “Besides singing, dancing and laughing, I try to clear my mind by writing when I can. Not sad songs, but emotional songs. I’m trying to get into learning acoustic guitar.”
Among his three major life goals, the third is to launch a singing career on a mass media platform. Ideally, he would get his big break on The Voice. “I went to [an American Idol audition] when I was about 13 years old and actually got scared when the line started getting shorter… so I ran home.” Mayfield has not given up on this dream, saying, “I like The Voice because you don’t start off in a small room, you start on the stage. You have to get the stage fright out of the way right away.”
Currently, Mayfield enjoys working at The Grille in the Campus Center because “it’s nice to have a job where everyone relates to me—at every other job I had everyone was way older than I was.” At 20 years old, Mayfield says he’s the oldest person working at the Grille. Calling Mac students “awesome,” he added, “We appreciate your patience. I don’t have to overpace myself because I know the students will be patient. Just a few students walk off [before their orders can be filled].” Mayfield has been working for Bon Appetit, Macalester’s dining hall service provider, for about six months now.
Within the next year or two, Mayfield plans on going to vocational school for a degree in construction, as well as taking online classes for a business degree. “By the time I’m 35, I want to build, operate and run my own dance school,” he asserted. With an extraordinary scope of foresight and commitment, Mayfield plans on living out his dream of dancing by sharing it with the Twin Cities community—and he plans on building it from scratch. The studio will begin in Minneapolis, expanding next to St. Paul and hopefully becoming a national franchise. A possible name for the studio would be “Groove Nation.”
Mayfield is excited about the prospect of fulfilling different needs for the community, and the opportunity to provide dance classes for those with physical disabilities, those who are pregnant and many other audiences. Mayfield has a deep desire to give back to the communities around him, especially “to give back to kids, because I’ve been through rough times.” A deeply compassionate, talented and hard-working individual, Mayfield seems to excel at everything he sets his sights on. It’s a pleasure to be part of a community with him here at Mac.