“I grew up around dance, and working in a professional company at such a young age really enhanced my understanding of the profession,” she says. Holmes studied dance at Southern Methodist University and then worked as a backup dancer for Natasha Bedingfield, but she couldn’t shake the notion that she had more to give.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and do something for the next generation — to truly give back," she says. That’s why Holmes launched the Wanderlust Dance Project.
Holmes and her team set out with a single goal: Bring young dancers to Dallas during the summer — typically considered dance’s offseason — to train and dance with professionals. The dancers learn from professional choreographers for a few weeks and then perform their work in a show for the public. This year's show will be Sunday, Aug. 6, at the Majestic Theatre.
To recruit the best of the best, the Wanderlust team hosted auditions for dancers and sent out a call for submissions to build its choreography crew. After getting the project off the ground last year, Holmes was elated to see how the project grew in year two as dancers and choreographers from Seattle, New York and Washington, D.C., descended on Dallas to share their talents with each other. But even with an influx of national talent, local dancers — including graduates of Booker T. Washington High School — played a pivotal role in helping Wanderlust grow.
"One of the best parts about this project is the opportunity to dance with so many dancers from DFW. Wanderlust has allowed me to explore a wide variety of choreographic processes, preparing me well for ... Juilliard." – Michael Garcia
Michael Garcia, one of the five recent Booker T. Washington graduates headed to Juilliard in the fall, is participating in Wanderlust as a dancer. He believes the project’s diversity (eight choreographers assembling eight wildly different pieces) has helped prepare him for the rigors of the world’s greatest dance school.
“One of the best parts about this project is the opportunity to dance with so many dancers from DFW,” Garcia says. “Wanderlust has allowed me to explore a wide variety of choreographers and choreographic processes, preparing me well for a multitude of experiences at Juilliard.”
Omar Rivera, another Booker T. Washington alum, is excited about what Wanderlust can bring to Dallas and hopes the project helps other artists like it has helped him.
“Wanderlust is an opportunity to unite and ignite within the art form without worrying about impressing or being judged,” he says. “I’d taken a break to recover from an injury, and now that I’m on my way to recovery, Wanderlust has helped me fall in love with dance again.”
Rivera graduated from Booker T. Washington in 2014 with Madison Hicks, who is entering her senior year at Juilliard. Hicks is the only “emerging choreographer” at this year’s Wanderlust — an addition Holmes made to the program in an effort to provide opportunities for young artists interested in choreography as well as dance. Hicks was eager to return to the city where she attended high school and even more excited to contribute to Dallas’ burgeoning dance scene.
“It’s amazing to come back to a city that is constant[ly] growing and supporting the arts,” she says. “In other cities, we would not be provided with the amazing opportunity that Wanderlust provides.”
Next year, Holmes hopes to grow the emerging choreographer component of the program, providing opportunities for up-and-comers to arrange pieces in their personal styles while working with dancers from all over. Furthermore, Wanderlust will soon expand outside Dallas.
In January 2018, this summer’s show will be restaged in Los Angeles, where the creative team will also produce A Midsummer Night’s Fling, a jazz-fueled reimagining of the Shakespeare classic.
While the aptly titled Wanderlust is always looking to grow, Holmes and this newfound community have no plans to leave Dallas behind.
“A lot of students think you have to go to New York or LA, but we have some amazing things happening in Dallas,” Holmes says. “Wanderlust is a new idea, especially for Texas, so we’re going to keep doing it here and keep doing it big.”
Wanderlust, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St. Tickets are $35 to $85 at wanderlustdanceproject.com.