New artistic director Terry Wilson has choreographed San Diego Dance Theater’s Trolley Dances five times and led the charge in hosting Trolley Dances at the City College campus in fall 2014. Photo by Doug McMinimy

For the first time in a quarter-century, the San Diego Dance Theater has a new artistic director, the group’s board of directors announced Friday.

Terry Wilson takes over for her longtime friend and mentor, Jean Isaacs, who retired Sunday after starting in 1997. Wilson began work as associate artistic director in October 2019.

San Diego Dance Theater was founded in 1972 by George Willis, professor emeritus of dance at San Diego State. The group is known for cross-border projects, summer dance workshops and the yearly Trolley Dances.

A performer, choreographer and teacher for over 32 years, Wilson can trace her dance career to meeting Isaacs. She has performed over 50 dances created by Isaacs.

Wilson — a professor of dance and co-chair of Visual and Performing Arts at San Diego City College — studied with Isaacs at San Diego State University and began dancing for Three’s Company and Dancers in 1986, while completing a BS in psychology from SDSU.

Wilson, also a lecturer in dance at UCSD, had a long career as a dancer included Isaacs/McCaleb & Dancers for eight years before leaving to earn her MFA in dance from the University of Michigan on full scholarship.

In 1997, Wilson returned to teach at San Diego City College, and to dance again for Isaacs as a company member of San Diego Dance Theater, retiring in 2003.

After leaving the stage, she worked with Isaacs to create “Moving Stories,” a children’s program that toured K-6 classrooms and was featured at the opening of The New Children’s Museum.

In 2000, Wilson won the San Diego Dance Alliance Tommy Award for best female performer. She has been invited five times to choreograph for San Diego Dance Theater’s Trolley Dances and led the charge in hosting Trolley Dances at the City College campus in fall 2014.

Wilson also served as an assistant rehearsal director and board member for San Diego Dance Theater.

She choreographed with the City College Dance Collective, which took part in the 2015 and 2019 San Diego International Fringe Festivals, taking first place for site-specific dance in 2015, and best dance in 2019.

In April 2018, Terry was invited to adjudicate the 4×4 performances in Tijuana presented by Lux Boral Compania de Danza. At the 20th Annual Trolley Dances, Wilson’s work was selected to be presented for the “Best Of Trolley” performance.

She also produced an evening of community college dance in San Diego Dance Theater’s annual Live Arts Fest in 2019.

In January 2020, Wilson’s choreography was featured on the Janus IV concert with San Diego Dance Theater, her first appearance as associate artistic director.

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