Dana Wilson

Wes Veldink/Sabina Hillman

Dana Wilson may be one of New York City Dance Alliance's most popular hip-hop teachers, but it's hard to put her in just one stylistic box. Yes, she knows how to hit it—hard—but she can also be playful and girly. Sometimes she'll even go full-on lyrical, composing lush, fluid phrases.

Wilson was born in Aurora, CO, and trained in multiple styles at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. At 18 she moved to L.A., and before long she was touring with Justin Timberlake and performing with Cirque du Soleil. Wilson also caught the choreography bug, assisting the likes of Wade Robson and Andy Blankenbuehler as well as creating her own work. Today you can catch her classes on the NYCDA convention circuit. —Margaret Fuhrer

As a youngster (courtesy Dana Wilson)

Dear Dana,

You know that Justin Timberlake CD jacket you kiss every day? You'll tour with him. That Wade Robson VHS you wore out? You'll assist him. That silver screen? You'll light it up. You're doing everything right. So you have my complete permission to continue to do exactly what you're doing. But I also want to share a few truths, to save you some time and heartache.

People say: “Party too much, show up late—people won't work with you." Unfortunately, this simply isn't true. Some of the most successful dancers I know are always late. They smoke and drink backstage; they fool around with the boss. But you will be rewarded for following the rules. Don't be hurt when others are rewarded for breaking them.

Nobody is looking for a dancer who is “decent" at all styles. They're always looking for the best. Don't stop training in many genres, but master your own style, which is a combination of all of them. Take time to practice freestyling, and you will be unstoppable.

This last one is tough, because you're a “pleaser." You want people to like you; you hate conflict. But don't round off your corners to fit in. You'll lose your edge—and edge is what makes you a leader. That role will please you more than you could ever please anyone else.

Love always,

Dana Wilson

Show Comments ()
Dance News
(From left) ABT's Erica Lall; NYCB's India Bradley; Washington Ballet's Nardia Boodoo; NYCB's Rachel Hutsell (all photos by Rachel Neville)

Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."

Keep reading... Show less
Screenshot via NowThis on Facebook

The Olympics are always full of inspiring Cinderella stories, where athletes no one had heard of mere months ago end up blowing all expectations out of the water, and maybe even nabbing a medal in the bargain. But we've recently caught wind of a different kind of Cinderella story—and it's one we really, really hope shows up in the Closing Ceremonies of the PyeongChang Olympics, airing tonight on NBC starting at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific time.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Being a dancer comes with the task of having to entertain the same questions over and over again from those outside the dance world. Of course, we love having our friends and family take an interest in our passion—but if someone asks ONE MORE TIME whether or not we've met Travis Wall, we might just go crazy.

Here are 10 questions that dancers hate getting asked.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
ABT JKO School student Miuka Kadoi shoiwng off her beautiful line (photo by Kenneth Edwards)

Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."

Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Our nominees (clockwise from top left): Roberto Campanella, Aurélie Dupont, Ashley Wallen, and Anthony Van Laast

Last month, we asked why there wasn't a Best Choreography category at the Oscars—and discovered that many of you agreed with us: Choreographers should definitely be acknowledged for their work on the super-dancy movies we can't get enough of.

Now, we're taking matters into our own (jazz) hands.

We've decided to create a Dance Spirit award for the best cinematic choreography of 2017. With your input, we've narrowed the field to four choreographers whose moves lit up some of the best movies of the year. Check out our nominations for best choreography below—and vote for the choreographer you think deserves the honor. We'll announce the winner on Friday, March 2.

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond skating her "Black Swan" long program (screenshot via YouTube)

Once upon a time (until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi concluded, to be exact), figure skaters had to compete to music without words. Before this rule change, a skater faced an automatic point deduction if the music even hinted at vocals. Understandably, there were *a lot* of Olympic programs skated to classical music, and you'd tend to hear the same music selections over and over and over.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Look at that extension! (Rick Moffitt/Wikipedia Commons)

There are plenty of current Olympic figure skaters who'd make beautiful dancers (first among them Adam Rippon, whose gorgeously choreographed long program won the internet, if not the gold). But today, as we wait for the women's figure skating competition to crown its new champions, we wanted to throw it back to one of the most beautifully balletic skaters of all time: Sasha Cohen.

Keep reading... Show less
How To
Thinkstock

Thinking about declaring a dance major? We had professors discuss all the factors you should consider before submitting that major-declaration form.

Keep reading... Show less
How To
Giphy

The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored