Wes Veldink/Sabina Hillman

Dana Wilson

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

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