Mark Wilson’s devastating ordeal is well known in Australia.
On two separate occasions an unknown stalker set fire to his dance studios, which were burned to the ground. The perpetrator has never been found, while life for Mark and his family will never be the same.
“Whoever it was tried to destroy our lives, and I felt helpless about being able to protect my family. For us, dancing has never been a job, it’s a way of life.”
When you work for a company, you are creating income for someone else and you get rewarded for that. It is different when you create something from nothing, something that gives you a real sense of fulfilment. That is what Mark and his wife Annemarie did when they began their dancing business with his brother and sister-in-law, holding dance nights attended by more than 100 children and couples.
“With dancing there are so many things that ticked boxes,” Mark says.
“There’s a fitness perspective and an artistic perspective. It’s a very wholesome and creative thing to do, particularly now that technology plays such a big part in youngsters’ lives. Dancing gives them social skills and confidence.”
Mark ran dance programs in schools: "When the kids danced, it was like witnessing an unconscious sense of release."
"They reacted to the music, dancing to the rhythm. When you see them do that for the first time it feels amazing. By the time they have their second class they really want to be there. They’re having fun. For us that’s a real buzz. It’s not just dancing – it’s the social skills they learn."
Some go on to study dancing seriously and become very accomplished. "That’s exciting, seeing them progressing from one level to another from the beginner stage." Mark has taught dancers who have gone on to be national champions or have performed in television dance shows and on stage in the musical version of Strictly Ballroom.