Maja Wheeler is the co-founder, leader, artistic director, life-long choreographer and performer with the Diversity Street Dancers since 2010. She started her career in the professional ballet theater in1990 in Russian, and is now a career artist living in the Twin Cities. Maja is a life long dancer, working as a solo performer in both former Soviet Union and the USA.
Since 2007 M. Wheeler transitioned her career to professional management, graduating from the Carlson School of Business. In 2009, she started her own business and in 2014 legally incorporated the dance community group, Diversity Street Dancers, as a non-profit 501c3 organization. Though Maja has strong business management skills, she is in need of more refined direction in the areas of grant writing and financial management.
Dance is one of the most discriminative forms of an art, welcoming only young, skinny, and technically-skilled performers. And yet, dance is also a very expressive art that can be employed by many rather than a few. As a choreographer I have a passion to rewrite this type of art to widely-used non-discriminative forms in order to provide real opportunities to those that do not fit the narrow criteria of professional dancevenues.
Dance can be practiced in many forms and for many reasons, including social, educative, political, and therapeutic. Dance also provides a means to connect into community driven networks based on shared values. The positive effects of dance in regards to physical activity on the brain, on cognitive functioning, and on aging-related problems is indisputable.
This is why I find inspiration in the folk arts. My choreography is dedicated to ethnic-inspired and cross-generational (our oldest group member is 78 years old) fusion style. I build my choreography on “supply” rather than “demand”.
Diversity Street Dancers emerged from community gatherings and is now a non-profit arts organization after ten years of existence. The work of Diversity Street Dancers is founded in using social dance as a healing power. Choreography emphasizes the healing power of a dance and communication through body movement as they empower folk traditions. The group started with the Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Jewish roots and is constantly looking for the expansion of an “influence area”.
My task is now to find ways to allow the dancers to take ownership of their dancing.