Show & Tell: Meet Jonah Wilkins of 'Jubilee!'


Q: When did you start dancing?

A: I turned professional when I was 15. I was a Detroit Shock -- a WNBA -- dancer.

Q: And before that?

A: I was in music. I played so many instruments. I was trained in piano, trumpet, saxophone and violin, and then I just started to pick up on different instruments. Clarinet and trombone I taught myself. This was in elementary and middle school.

Q: How did the dancing begin?

A: Middle school marching band. ... I played trumpet, and our whole band would do some moves. It was like one of those big, showy bands you see. ... The choreographer for the band talked to my mother, and he said, "You have to put this boy in dance classes."

Q: Were you thinking of a career in dance then?

A: I think at that point it was an activity, but it quickly turned into a career. ... When it came time for high school, I applied to the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts.

Q: For music or dance?

A: I majored in dance and minored in music, and they didn't let freshmen do both. ... That made my decision that, OK I'm going to dance full time. By then, I was so into dance, I never looked back at music. And I still enjoy music, but I just knew that sitting in an orchestra playing the trumpet or playing in a band wouldn't fulfill me the way dancing onstage would.

Q: You did a few years on cruise ships (in Hawaii and the Caribbean). What was that like?

A: You're 19, and you're traveling, and you haven't been off the mainland or out of the country, and you're going to Hawaii and seeing how all these other people live, and you're seeing beautiful nature and meeting all the people you meet on a ship every single week, and they want to talk to you because you're one of the entertainers. ... I was from Detroit, so it was the thrill of a lifetime.

Q: How did Las Vegas enter your plans?

A: I just knew I wanted to come to Vegas. People on my first cruise ship said, "You will love Las Vegas, and 'Jubilee!' will love you, because they love your look." ... I watched the TV show, and I saw "Showgirls" when I was in, like, ninth grade, and I said, "I want to be a Vegas showboy. ... I want the spectacular."

Q: When did you arrive?

A: January 2007. ... I did the big audition they do, and it was perfect timing.

Q: Sounds like you're enjoying it.

A: I am. I have a regular position and I absolutely adore the girl I get to dance with. ... Sometimes, when you stand onstage and you look around -- especially in the finale, because that's when most of the people are onstage and we're all together and not moving -- sometimes you look around you and you're just, "This is what I do. This is my life." ... It's kind of breathtaking.

 

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