A.C. Williams is an Army Spouse and dancer who has danced in response to change since her teenage years. She shares how dance can be transformative in positive ways to combat all the ways life attempts to transform us negatively.
MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
A.C.: I am as southern as they come. Born in Mississippi, raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I moved a lot as a child, prompting me to hate moving, and now it has become a permanent lifestyle lol. I, for the most part, grew up with a single parent. I am the oldest and only girl with two younger brothers. Movement and music have always been prevalent in my life. I was a cheerleader for 8 years. I attempted gymnastics – that did not go over well – and joined various dance/pom teams before settling into dance. I received a B.A in Early Childhood Education from Clark Atlanta University in 2015. I moved to California immediately after graduating, where I lived for three years before meeting my husband.
I met my husband during a distressing time in his life. Our families were already connected through my best friend of 15 years and his older brother being in a long-term relationship when he passed. We knew of each other and only met during my late brother-in-law’s funeral. We have been together every day since. We got married two years after meeting. Our daughter was born 6 months before; we also have a son from his previous marriage. Our lives collided quickly, but it was done effortlessly. We are approaching his 7th year of service in the US Army and my 2nd year navigating this life as a military spouse.
We are currently in Lompoc, California. My husband, who is originally Military Police, was selected for a broadening assignment, and for the two years he is a recruiter. This move has showed us how much support we left behind at Fort Stewart with both of our family being only hours away to help with the children. It has been a hard transition; this first year here has been a roller coaster. I honestly feel that we were assigned this PCS to grow as individual people and as a couple. I have been forced to become stronger, innovative, and malleable. Being a milspouse is not for the weak at heart. We all have moments when we need to cry and scream, but afterwards we become a force of nature.
MilspoFAN: How did you become a dancer?
A.C.: I found dance at a crucial time in life. My parents separated, igniting a nasty family feud, which turned me into an angsty teenager. We moved to a new city, and I started a new high school. My mother felt dance would be a good outlet for me. I started dance when I was 15 years old, and it consumed me. I became so in love with the fact that nothing mattered in dance class besides my talent. I flourished junior year of high school under the leadership of Shelly Collins, who pushed me to accept that ballet was a natural given talent and that no matter how boring I felt it was, you never waste what God gives you.
From then, I went on the be president of my high school’s dance company. I found confidence in creating choreography, and teaching. My sophomore year of college, I joined CAU Dance Theater, an organization comprised of dancers that partnered with the drama majors to create various performing art programs around campus. By my junior year I became VP and then president my senior year. After graduating and starting my career in education, I volunteered and coached all things related to dance as my way to stay connected.
MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as a dancer- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
A.C.: After becoming a military spouse, my life was turned upside down. I had become so involved in my career after my daughter was born, the dancer in me started to look like an old friend that I had outgrew. Right before our move, I found myself saying, “I want to get back into dance once we get settled.” I did not know what that would look like. Once we settled, I fell into a funk. Not being able to get a job, being home with two small children and not having any family nearby to help, I felt extremely isolated and overwhelmed. Landing the dance instructor position lit a fire under me. My small program started to grow and so did my vision. I turned the program in a business. Being in the studio had become my renewed love, and I did not want it to simply vanish with the next PCS. I took a passion, turned it into a purpose and then made it work for me. I created a company that provides movement and wellness programs to members of the military community.
MilspoFANL You changed careers from being a school teacher to being a dance teacher after your first PCS. Was this a scary transition? How did you know it was time to make that change?
The transition from the classroom into the studio was extremely scary. It felt like giving up a security blanket. For so long this had been my life. Teaching had finally become second nature to me, and my entire world came to a halt. I did not know what to do. I have never not been able to find a teaching position, but with school starting at the same time as our PCS, I was put in a moment of pause. In the meantime, it was hard finding something I would enjoy doing and give me the flexibility of being able to spend quality time with my daughter, something I was missing out on while in the classroom.
An opening for a dance instructor on base came up, and I jumped at it, not really considering if I was prepared for it or knowing what it all entailed. Something told me that this opportunity was the reason nothing else was working out at the time. This was my “getting back into dance” that I told myself I wanted to do. I became able to do what I love and become immersed in it again as well as give this love to my daughter, who is in the studio almost as much as I am.
MilspoFAN: How has Covid affected your practice?
A.C.: Unfortunately, Covid has hit my practice extremely hard. I operate on base and I am to abide by the regulations set forth from higher command. When all classes were shut down as of April, I took a pivot with my approach and offered virtual dance classes that equate to the experience inside the studio. The classes are pre-recorded, accompanied with a terminology worksheet and a mandatory live tutorial class weekly. I was really hoping to phase back into the studio by now; however, being that we are still under the travel ban in California and the curve has yet to flatten, I hope and look forward to starting the new year with in-person classes.
MilspoFAN: What’s next for you?
A.C.: Currently I am increasing my value as a creative and learning new talents to contribute to the growth of my program. I am in the process of gaining my 200 HR yoga teacher training. Following my yoga certification, I will pursue my health coach certification to better help serve the community I am now a part of. I will soon be able to provide an adult wellness program that will encompass yoga, meditation, wellness advice as well as dance classes. I am looking forward to the journey I am on, turning my art into a fulfilling career while supporting my serviceman and others like him.
MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
A.C.: If what you do makes you happy, chase it. If life has taken you on a different path, but your art manages to find its way back to you, let it in. There is no such thing as “it’s been forever since I’ve done dance/painting/poetry.” True love never leaves you; it waits until you need it again to love you even more. It may be hard to get back to what you used to be, however, it will be the most rewarding thing you do.
Check out some of AC’s Dance Classes on YouTube. Just follow the links below!
Pre-School Ballet/Creative Movement: