Allison Wilson (senior) has become one of the key figures in Occidental’s dance community, working her way up to become a captain of the Dance Team and a co-president of Dance Production, both student-run clubs on campus. Wilson said both define her experience at Occidental and her connection to dance.
Wilson said that Dance Team welcomes dancers from a variety of dance backgrounds at its auditions and hosts performances every few weeks.
“We’re a really tight-knit group,” Wilson said. “A lot of us come from more traditional backgrounds with dance. It’s great to come together and realize our differences, but also realize that we can still be really supportive, and that we don’t have to continue the toxic environments that some of us may be used to, so that in itself has been a really great experience.”
For this year’s homecoming, Wilson said she and her teammates performed her choreographed piece.
“I’ve never choreographed for Dance Team before. I am really excited to share my piece. We are using pom poms, which I didn’t actually start getting involved in until I got to Oxy,” Wilson said.
Nastasya Stasiv (junior), co-captain for the Dance Team, said the team is excited to perform her piece and collaborate with Wilson. According to Stasiv, Wilson’s positive attitude is infectious to everyone in and out of the dance studio.
“I remember the first practice we got through so much choreography because everyone was so excited and willing to learn,” Stasiv said. “Her passion for dance is contagious. She’s a very enthusiastic member of the team, talking to everyone regardless of class year.”
According to Wilson, she has also been choreographing for Dance Production since her first year. This will be the third year that Wilson and her co-choreographer Alison Hwang (senior) have worked together. Her final piece for Dance Production is in collaboration with Hwang as well.
“Being our last year together, we have decided that the piece is gonna be a love letter to Dance Production and dance at Oxy, because we have gotten to know each other through the dance community and are grateful for what dance at Oxy and our dance experiences have led us to,” Wilson said. “One thing that’s special about our piece is the message ‘Thank you for what you’ve learned, but also that you have so much more— to grow, to learn, and to be grateful for.’ I think it’s going to be really special and nostalgic for us.”
Hwang said the two met during her first year, and dance connected them.
“We definitely became each other’s best friends through dance at Oxy,” Hwang said. “For the two of us, we’ve had a lot of deep conversations regarding our own relationship to dance. And because of that, we’ve found solidarity with each other.”
According to Wilson, being on Dance Team and Dance Production has helped her grow as a person and learn more about herself. For her Media Arts and Culture (MAC) senior comprehensives, Wilson is incorporating her dance experience and personal development in her project.
“I’m making a documentary about myself and my experiences in dance and body image issues,” Wilson said. “It’s a personal documentary about my experiences with dance, about how I’ve become more aware of myself and my body through my time at Oxy, within the dance community. That in itself has been really reflective and made me think about what I want to do with these realizations about myself, and how I want to bring dance into my future.”
Francisco Martinez, a dance professor at Occidental College, met Wilson during her first year. In an email interview, Martinez said Wilson took classes in modern dance and choreography taught by him throughout her time at Occidental.
“We have been friends, artists and human beings all at once,” Martinez said.
According to Martinez, Wilson has become an integral part of the dance community at Occidental.
“She is meticulous with her approach to dance, intelligent, warm, friendly and a joy to work with, not only with me but with the dance community,” Martinez said. “She has been a beacon in the community and really cares for the work she does within the dance field as well as her major [MAC].”
According to Stasiv, Wilson is one of the dance team members that has been on the team the longest. Due to this, Stasiv said Wilson carries on traditions and values that the pandemic has disrupted.
“She makes sure that these values and customs kind of transcended throughout the years, even with all of these unprecedented changes,” Stasiv said. “She definitely plays a big part in keeping the team’s integrity.”
Wilson said that she is unsure about her plans with dance after her time at Occidental.
“There’s still a lot that I think the dance industry can work on, that I don’t want to be really involved with,” Wilson said. “I love teaching dance and working with kids, so I would really love to do something with that. I also obviously have my media side to my major, and involving that with dance could be a potential option.”
Hwang said dance organizations at Occidental College will be influenced by Wilson’s character, long after her departure.
“Her legacy will be remembered for making dance smoother running, communicative, functional, and a much more democratic kind of process, especially in the bigger clubs like Dance Production,” Hwang said. “Her impact would be keeping the longevity of the clubs that she’s a part of while also laying down foundations to make running these clubs easier in the future.”
Contact Tanan Jigd at email@example.com