What’s up in the dance community
Melinda Wilson is one in a million—or at least several thousand. Wilson was the only dance teacher to qualify for the 2018 Global Teacher Prize, becoming one of 50 finalists (out of 30,000 applicants) to vie for a million-dollar check from London’s Varkey Foundation. “I couldn’t believe it,” she told Dance Studio Life. “I was looking at the other people who were nominated, and I’m humbled and honored.”
Wilson’s no slouch herself, however. She teaches at Curie High School on Chicago’s South Side, where roughly 97 percent of her students live below the poverty line, and is the dance director at an afterschool arts program for public-school kids. The high school’s dance room has cracked mirrors and a hole in the floor; buckets lining the afterschool space catch the rain and snow that fall through holes in the ceiling. Despite these challenges, Wilson has choreographed 18 musicals and staged 20 dance concerts in the last 20 years. As for costumes, she says, “I write a lot of grants.”
Though she didn’t win the big check in the end, she says seeing her students succeed is its own reward. “The most amazing thing is to see these children thrive despite whatever obstacles they may have,” she says.