The amazing Dana Wilson is tremendously multi-talented! We first came across Dana's choreography and stage performance with Justin Timberlake. She's a teacher, choreographer, performer, has a podcast, and career coaches. We're still puzzled she has time in the day to be great in everything. Oh, and her morning coffee ritual is nothing less than superb! Join us as we explore the world of Dana Wilson.
When did you get involved in dancing? When was your “aha” moment, knowing that is what you wanted to do?
To follow in my older sister's footsteps, my Mom enrolled me in dance classes when I was three years old. At that point, class was more like day care than dance, but alas, it was the beginning. My interest came and went as a young one, but like so many other teenagers in the early 2000's I had my "aha" moment while watching TRL (Total Request Live for all the really young ones out there) on MTV. Music Videos were magical to me. I could see myself in them. THAT is what I wanted to do... and Mom was NOT impressed (... yet).
As ballroom dancers, JP and I needed to go beyond our origins to find resources that would get us closer to the goal of becoming professional dancers. Did you explore other cities or did you find your hometown/city had everything to offer in shaping the artist you are today?
Mom enters the story with an important role here again! My mom was a flight attendant for United Airlines for many many years, so I was fortunate to get to travel for almost free! From my hometown in Colorado, I was able to travel to NYC, LA, Europe and even Argentina to train! FYI during her layovers in Buenos Aires, my Mom fell in love with Tango! She is better than I am!
We love getting inside the mind of a dancer! When you’re on stage in a big show that transpired from lots of practice, long hours, a high profile crew…in the moment of performance what’s going through your head? Is there pressure making you count and focus on every move, are you present relying on muscle memory, or a combination of both?
This is a great question, and usually the answer is a combination of both. That said, I love the process of working so hard that hard things become easy. I cannot remember the name of the actor, but I recall someone calling this "deliberate amnesia". That's when you cram, crunch, repeat, rehearse BEFORE the show, so that you can step onto the stage (or the set) and forget all of the work, and simply BE in the moment. That right there is the sweet spot.
Dana Wilson has 1 week off, no dance, work, phone, computer, or covid. What do you do!? Where do you go?!
My husband and I pack (very light) and head to Pahoa on the big island of Hawaii (coffee grows everywhere). We spent our honeymoon there, in a dodecagon hut on a farm with only solar powered light/ power. It was heaven on earth (if you don't mind mosquitoes). I would go back in a heartbeat.
Would love to know if you drink coffee or tea and if so how do you prepare it?
In a world with a lot of moving parts, coffee is one of my very few constants. EVERY MORNING starts with a cold brew (even in the winter or when I am in colder climates). I am an Arabica girl myself and I found a concentrate that I really love. A little goes a long way! I am starting to shift to herbal tea's later in the day... but don't be shocked if you find me with cold brew #2 around 3pm ;-)
What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on?
As the entertainment business crawls out of the "Covid cave", I am excited to be choreographing another commercial for a mega-fitness brand, getting back to teaching in person (NYCDA), creating more awesomely silly stuff with my two best friends (The Seaweed Sisters) and maintaining my new favorite ritual, my weekly podcast (Words That Move Me). Also, keep an eye out for the WB Feature Film adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda's Broadway hit, In The Heights which will be in theaters and on HBO max!
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
See all 95 episodes of the podcast ;-) ;-) AND this: the key to managing your time, money, projects, and progress... is to manage your mind. Simple as that!