Born to Dance

Tracey Varga on dancing, choreographing and teaching

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TRACEY VARGA was born to dance. Like most dancers, this love would be a lifelong passion that would evolve and mature as the years went by. “My first exposure to dance was a tap dance class at the age of five at the Carol Jean Dance Studio in Livermore, California,” says Varga. “From that time on, I knew dance was always going to be part of my ‘being.’ I went on to study classical ballet, discovered modern and jazz dance in my late teens, and when attending college while getting a degree in physical therapy.”

Varga moved to Wilmington in the late 1990s from Seattle after performing, teaching, and choreographing in Maryland, Washington, Idaho, Illinois, and New York.

“Performance and choreography opportunities opened up with the start of the Wilmington Independent Choreographers in the late 1990s, founded by then-local Mark Davis,” says Tracey. “With the close of this organization, I saw the need for continued modern contemporary dance growth and had the vision to find innovative ways to bring dance to Wilmington and to provide the local and regional community with quality dance performances, education as well as bring performance opportunities for local dancers and performing artists.”

In 2001, Varga founded Forward Motion Dance Company, a nonprofit. “After trying to find adult dance classes and opportunities to create new dance works in the Wilmington area and seeing there was not much available, I decided to reach out to dancers in the community, concentrating on the modern-contemporary dance genre.

She says her dance journey in the region began with teaching creative movement to children at the YWCA and progressed to teaching teen/adult modern – jazz and tap dance at the YWCA. From there, she went on to teach dance at the Wilmington School of Ballet and is also now teaching at The Dance Element.

“Collaboration with local visual artists, musicians, vocalists, and filmmakers is a very important mission of the Forward Motion Dance Company,” she says. “In March of this year, FMD was dancing on stage with French acoustic guitarist Pierre Bensusan when he was in Wilmington beginning his North American tour.”

Locally, Varga has presented at Dance-a-lorus, NC Dance Festival, Wilmington Dance Festival, and at stages including  Thalian Hall, City Stage, Kenan Auditorium, the Community Arts Center, and at the Cameron Art Museum.

“Forward Motion Dance is very excited to be back performing at Historic Thalian Hall Main Stage for its first annual show since the pandemic (the last one in 2019),” says Varga.

Cape Fear ARTS IN MOTION, Visuals, Vocals, Variations will be September 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. and Thalian Hall Main Stage and will connect dancers, musical, vocal, and visual artists.

“Included will be premiere and past dance works choreographed by myself, and exciting piece ‘Around Within’ from guest choreographer Gaspard Louis, founder and artistic director of Gaspard & Dancers, based in Durham,” he says.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $22 for seniors, students, military, and children under 12, plus taxes and fees.

Varga is also proud of her involvement in philanthropic endeavors including Arts Sensation, an evening of music and multi-genre dance to benefit a local nonprofit organization.

“This event began in 2001, and the next one is planned for April 21, 2023,” says Varga.

To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to

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Categories: Culture