Wilson began dancing at the age of 5 at Praise in Motion, a Christian-based dance school formerly based in downtown Fort Wayne. “Mom always wanted to be a dancer, but her mother never provided her that opportunity, so she wanted to give that to me.” At North Side, Wilson became part of the school’s large dance program led by Bonnie Amburgey. It was through her experiences as not only a dancer but as an assistant teacher and choreographer that Wilson solidified her passion for dance and determination to pursue it as a career.
After earning a degree in dance education at Hope College in Holland, Mich., Wilson had the opportunity to move to New York, where she found some unique opportunities.
“I was working in these things where I was manipulating fabric, and we were doing all sorts of crazy stuff. We’d perform at these festivals and would be doing all this stuff in the streets. I started doing this in the first two months I was in New York, and I thought then, ‘Yeah, I can do this. I can make it in New York.’ But at that point we were all 22, 23 years old, and I started thinking I needed to decide what to do career-wise, what I wanted to do long-term.”
When she learned her high school teacher was facing a medical crisis — a husband with cancer who required her attention — Wilson agreed to come back to substitute teach for Amburgey at North Side. After that school year, Wilson returned to New York only to be wooed back a year later upon Amburgey’s retirement. Now in her fifth year back in Fort Wayne, Wilson oversees the program’s 33rd year and coordinates not only the dance team and program but also North Side’s cheerleading squad and step team.
“I have 180 students now. It’s amazing to see how far the program has come.”
More recently, Wilson decided that as much as she loved teaching, she also wanted to continue performing. Along with friend Alison Gerardot, outreach director at Fort Wayne Dance Collective, she sought to provide a performance outlet for the many students and teachers of dance who had aged out of the studios aimed at children. Their newly formed company, dAnce.Kontemporary (a name which highlights the first letters of each of their first names), debuted at last August’s Taste of the Arts. It’s also secured a regular gig at Dan Swartz’s contemporary art gallery, Wunderkammer, in the old Casa D’Angelo’s building on Fairfield.
“This company gives me a chance to still perform and think outside the box and work with other dancers who are so happy to be able to keep performing.”