Today we’d like to introduce you to Harriet Wilson.
Harriet, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story starts out with a bit of a curveball that eventually leads to a strike. (I think that analogy makes sense…lol). So here we go…
Out of high school, I was on my way to going to college (which, to say the least, I was not thrilled about). Fortunately for me, but not my dad, he ran into rough financial times. From the time I was five and got my first Barbie doll, I became fascinated with her hair and then everybody’s hair! Since I didn’t want to go to college and knowing my dad’s situation, I approached him and asked if I could go to hairdressing school instead. He was relieved and so was I!! Although mom wasn’t too thrilled. Nevertheless, I won this one! This was 1970.
Fast forward to 1978. As a hairdresser, I was becoming disillusioned with the work (all right Fran, my mom, maybe she had a point, 😏 yet the money was good and it gave me flexibility. One for me 😀). Barbie dolls don’t have anything to say about their hair…lol and also the pressure to fit in as many heads as possible was not enjoyable for me.
I had married a musician in 1976. He could practice for hours at a time. I said to myself I wish I could do something I loved that much since at that time hairdressing had become a “job”. As a child, I went to dance class at my mom’s wish. I was too shy at the time and quit. (A little caveat, when I saw West Side Story and Gypsy in the 60’s I was smitten. I would have my barbie dolls dance (this was no easy feat having 3 of them doing choreography at the same time!)
Anyway, I shared with a very good friend at the time (I was 25) my wish of being involved with something I loved like my husband did. They said to me if you were super woman, what would you choose? I replied without hesitation…dance. Their response “so”? At that moment my new career was born!
No one would think you could have a career in dance starting at 25. Nor did I. I simply started taking classes for the love of it. I couldn’t get enough! I quit the hair salon and started to work out of my house so as it enabled me to take more classes. Approximately 10-12 classes a week. This was at Luigi’s Dance Centre in New York. Within 2 years Luigi had asked me if I would be interested in teaching the “intro” class. Yes! I said and within time I was able to teach all levels. I would also cut hair in the hallway! I performed with his company, got some other work as well, took other classes in the city and subsequently subbed for my other main teacher at Broadway Dance Center and other schools throughout New York City. I didn’t really enjoy performing nor did I ever really want that. I discovered I did love teaching.
It’s now 1990 and I’m tired of New York for many reasons. I loved Florida and my parents had just moved there. While visiting some friends in Boca Raton and while in their pool I said how much I loved Florida. And they said “so”? And I said “hmmm” and in a month I was happily down here!
I’ve taught for a number of studios here in south Florida, adults and teens which I find to be a blast :). I do, however, enjoy having my own small business teaching adults (or any teen that can keep up with an intermediate jazz class). It’s been basically word of mouth how students have come to me. It’s a rather specialized class.
You do need prior training in dance to handle it. It’s not commercial like Zumba or jazzersize. Some of my adult students have been with me for over 20 years. The comradery of the students is also really enjoyable and a part that I truly love.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Actually, in a way, it has been pretty smooth. I took things as they came and one opportunity followed the next. I had no goal in mind except doing what I loved. I just loved the process. The hairdressing was subsidizing my income. (See Fran, things have a way of working out 😉.) So, within a period of 30 years, I taught, performed and had a company. But it was teaching I enjoyed the most. Money was secondary. I don’t need a lot to be happy. But I do need to enjoy my work! You would think starting at 25 would be an obstacle but as it turned out it wasn’t.
The one thing that is a challenge is finding students that like the class and can do it and have the time available.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Dance Jazz Adult Class – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I run an adult intermediate authentic jazz dance class in Boca Raton. Warmup is 45 min., to an hour depending on the class, followed by a combo. The quality of the work is professional. Yet there is definitely time for friendship and fun. The work is serious but I don’t take myself that seriously. I find more joy that way! There is style, line and flow of movement in the work with interesting timing. These days in dance it’s become more about athleticism and acrobatics than artistry, more about the ‘wow ‘ factor. Tricks are great but not an overuse of them. They should be applied when the music calls for them and not to simply show off. You must become one with the music, not separate from it (the music says one thing but your move does not connect with it). Good choreography will draw the audience in.
It’s as good a class as anything you would find in Manhattan. It does require some prior training since it’s an intermediate level. At the same time, the age can range from 15-80!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I will continue to teach adults until I drop! Lol. Also, to follow the flow like I always have and go where it leads me if that be different. Presently, I am content. ☺️
- Address: Boca Raton, 33433
- Phone: 954-725-8306
- Email: email@example.com