Live Your Journey: How Jenny Wilson Found Belonging In Dance
There’s so much more to dance than athleticism and looking great on a stage. For Jenny, a customer experience strategist for Redmond Life, dance is about belonging, connection, and a depth of expression that other movements and art forms just can’t match.
Jenny’s passion for dance evolved gradually. Like many little girls, Jenny took her first dance class when she was about 5 years old. Some of her earliest memories of being a dancer were of picking out tap and ballet shoes with her mom and dad.
She first attended a studio in Park City owned by a family friend, Debbie, and took a variety of different classes that helped her develop a strong foundation as a dancer. This is also where she got her first taste of performance. “I remember being on stage at the Egyptian Theater in Park City and realizing how much I loved performing,” she says.
After her first dance studio closed when she was about 10, Jenny saw a flyer for a drop-in hip-hop class. She went and immediately fell in love! “I’d done jazz, ballet, and tap, but hip-hop came easier to me,” Jenny says. “I felt validated like hip-hop was in my soul. I felt like I could lose myself in it.” Until this point, dance was a fun activity. When she discovered hip-hop, dance became an expression of who she was.
While she enjoyed dancing throughout her childhood and took classes as a fun activity, it wasn’t until middle school that she discovered her deep, lifelong passion for movement and community. “I was at Taco Bell with my friends, and we saw a flyer for a studio that was coming to Park City called Dance Tech. I was 13 when I took my first class there, and it’s still part of my life today.”
It was more than just the fun she loved. Her Park City community was small, so everyone was doing the same activities, including dance. But she never felt like she truly belonged.
“A lot of things in childhood were really hard,” Jenny says. “My dad wasn’t able to be around when I was young, and my mom was working multiple jobs to make a home for us. She even cleaned the dance studio to make it possible for me to take classes. We lived in low-income housing, and that just wasn’t the norm in an affluent area like Park City. I had good friends and they never made me feel like an outcast, but I still felt different.”
It was at Dance Tech that Jenny finally found the belonging she’d been searching for her whole life.
“There were no boundaries for showing up as you are. Dance went from a sport and a hobby to a language I could speak more clearly than anything else. It was expression. I felt like I could be myself, and be a part of something.” Jenny credits the director, Nicole, for creating this space and teaching her how dance and community could be one and the same.
With Dance Tech, Jenny went from taking classes recreationally to performing and competing as part of a company. “This was a time when I chose dance as my path and didn’t do anything else. This is what I devoted my time and my life to.”
An Evolving Journey
After graduating from high school and Dance Tech, Jenny went on to study dance at the University of Utah for two years, but soon realized she was in the program for the wrong reasons. “I did it to keep dancing, not to make it a part of my life the way the major intended. I didn’t want to guide my whole life around dance that way.” After four semesters, Jenny changed majors. She continued to dance, but still, she craved the freedom and belonging she felt at Dance Tech. So, she went back!
After college, Jenny continued to teach and direct for Dance Tech and taught not only her beloved hip-hop, but tap, jazz, and contemporary dance as well. “Contemporary technique doesn’t come as naturally to me, but I love how it allows us to put expression into movement. It’s storytelling.”
Jenny taught frequently at Dance Tech until 2011 when her family’s needs exceeded her teaching income. That’s when Jenny came to Redmond!
Jenny continues to stay involved at Dance Tech, teaching and directing occasionally. She also teaches dance fitness for adults at Werq Dance Fitness, which was a big step after years of teaching children and teens.
“I was nervous to teach adults, but I love the joy of seeing adults come in who are looking for something new and challenging open up in a way that might never have with anyone. They learn that once your body starts moving in a space that feels safe, you can express yourself in ways that weren’t possible before.”
This passion is the heart of what Jenny loves about dance: that freedom of expression and creating a space where others can show up as themselves.
“We are all dancers,” Jenny says. “I hear ‘I’m not a dancer’ all the time, and I always correct it. You might not be trained, but you have this instrument. We all have this thing inside of us. You can have the hardest day and leave with a sigh of relief. When you experience this community and unleash yourself in a way you thought you couldn’t, it’s so powerful. You let out your inner Beyonce or whoever you want to be without judgment.”
Jenny is living her journey through dance and movement. Creating safe spaces for movement and expression is so valuable and sometimes difficult to come by! We’re so glad that people like Jenny exist who have the gift of creating that space.
“I don’t teach because I love teaching,” Jenny says. “I do, but I do it because I love providing a space for people to come and feel like they belong and to experience that openness. Whether someone’s not seeing them at school or at home, they can come to my class and express themselves. They can be who they are. That’s why I keep doing it, even if it’s just once a week, a month, or even a year; to offer that. Dance is for everyone. I want people to experience what’s possible.”
We’re so glad to have Jenny on the Redmond Life team, and we love what she’s doing in the world through facilitating dance. We can’t wait to see where her journey takes her!