18-year-old Joni Heusner-Wilkinson has danced at Moving in the Spirit for seven years. This is her third tour with the Apprentice Corporation.
You’ve been with the program for a long time. What has impressed you most?
“In the Apprentice Corporation, I’m impressed that you have to audition each year. You don’t have a free pass just because you’ve been in the company the previous year. The instructors re-evaluate you every year because you evolve as a person and a dancer.”
This is your third tour with the Apprentice Corporation. What are you most looking forward to this year?
“I’m looking forward to our tour in Ohio. I want to get a feel for the people and places because I’ll be living up there soon — I’m going to the College of Wooster this fall.”
Becoming part of the touring team is a competitive process. What did you do to earn your spot on this year’s tour?
“Well, in addition to being evaluated in class throughout the year, teachers and staff evaluate you in personal interviews. They also evaluate how a group of dancers meshes together, because we’re together 24/7 for ten days on tour. Anyone can learn a dance, but not everyone can be part of a team for that long.”
What has inspired you most so far about this year’s tour team?
“I’ve been inspired most by Gabby. She’s really stepped forward in tour rehearsals, to the point where sometimes I look at her and said, “Wow! I didn’t know you could do that!”
Several guest artists have come in to work with you before tour. What has been your favorite experience?
“I loved working with Sarah Beach from Emory University. Working with her, I learned that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. I always knew this, but I really learned it with her. Never underestimate anybody.”
What has your artistic voice added to this year’s tour show?
“I’ve added familiarity and stability. Others come to me to get my experience.”
What message do you hope audiences take away from the tour performance?
“I want audiences to know that communication is really important, and that we all communicate in different ways. Instead of getting upset or frustrated, evaluate how to best communicate with different types of people.”
The theme of this year’s tour is ‘Stand Up,’ What do you stand for?
“I stand for all of the people who said they couldn’t do something, but then discovered that they could.”
You can see Joni and the rest of the tour team perform in Atlanta on Friday, June 26, 8 PM at 7 Stages Theatre.