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Dance globally, teach locally Ballet: Performing internationally is not all glamour and fun, a Severna Park native says.


The life of an internationally touring dancer is hardly one of endless glamour, according to Anton "Tony" Wilson, a Severna Park native and dancer with Jennifer Muller/The Works, a modern dance company in New York.

Mostly, it's waiting, he said. Waiting for your bus, your train, your plane, your luggage. Or preparing and performing. But there are moments, he added. Like the stop on an impoverished Siberian island during the company's nearly two-month tour of Russia, Switzerland and France.

"Out of nowhere we were whisked off to this reception in this immaculate place. It looked like a palace," he said.

Wilson, 36, returned to town Monday and jumped immediately into the role of the father in the Baltimore School for the Arts' production of "The Nutcracker," dancing with the students he teaches when he is not on tour.

"He took the [music] tape with him, and he came and walked back in like he had been rehearsing for six weeks," said Norma Pera, director of dance at the school. "It's very important for the students to work with 'real dancers,' dancers who have a wide range, so that they understand that it's not just getting up there ++ and doing the fancy parts that's important."

Wilson danced in plays and musicals while he was a student at Severna Park High School but was more interested in competing in equestrian events at the Olympics until a local choreographer tapped him for a disco-dance troupe.

Somehow, Wilson said, he was steered toward a ballet class in Columbia. He walked into his first class wearing a purple leotard and tights borrowed from his mother.

"You're late," the teacher said after taking one look at him. Wilson stammered an apology, but she interrupted. "No, you're like five years too late. We have to get to work."

Edward Stewart, artistic director of the Ballet Theater of Annapolis, taught Wilson in those first months and has worked with him over the years.

"Some people are just natural movers," Stewart said. "He's an artist. A lot of people are just technicians. But he makes you believe every character he's dancing."

Wilson graduated from Severna Park in 1979 and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the North Carolina School for the Arts, where he majored in ballet, in 1984.

After graduation, he moved to New York City, where he got a job with the globe-trotting Les Ballets Trockedero de Monte Carlo, a company of men who parody traditional ballet, dancing en pointe dressed as women.

Their show made a lasting impression on Wilson's father, Everett Wilson, who went to a perform- ance in New York.

"I saw for the first time him dancing 15 minutes on his toes, doing every [step] that the females do," the elder Wilson said. "It was awesome."

Wilson left the group in 1986, then taught in Japan for several months and spent 6 1/2 years living, teaching and dancing in Europe, mostly in Germany. He returned to Maryland in 1992 to study physical therapy at Baltimore City Community College.

But after meeting Jennifer Muller at a choreography workshop she led at the University of Maryland Baltimore County last year, Wilson found himself drawn back to professional dance.

He divides his time between dancing with the company in New York and teaching modern dance and ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts.

Wilson said he is content with his routine, for now, but he eventually will finish his studies, begin a career in physical therapy and return to horse riding.

"It's my first passion," he said with a broad smile. "One day I'll be able to [get] back to it full time, when I get through with all this madness."

Pub Date: 12/08/96

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