Latin Style

Summer McPherson on keeping dance alive


Need a fun distraction during the coronavirus pandemic? Get out your dancing shoes and check out Wilmington Latin Dance run by SUMMER MCPHERSON, its founder, director, and instructor. Even though the studio is closed, you can still add some virtual cha-cha or merengue to your step.

Due to restrictions set to stop the spread of the coronavirus, McPherson’s last in-person class was back in March.

However, she didn’t wait long to transition online.

“I have hosted live classes via Zoom, Facebook, and Instagram,” she says. “We have gotten a really nice response and it’s been so fun to still get to see our student’s faces through Zoom.”

One silver lining in the virtual world—it has been nice to connect with people out of town that wouldn’t have been in our local classes, she says.

Since Wilmington Latin Dance’s 2012 launch party in Wrightsville Beach, McPherson has opened up Wilmington’s eyes to Latin dance culture. After renting spaces for a few years, in 2017 she settled on a permanent space, The Studio Collective located at 5629 Oleander Dr.

Before COVID-19, she offered classes for all ages but mostly for adults.

“We host events and always have a beginner lesson to start off. We teach group salsa classes, as well as classes for bachata, cha-cha-cha, and merengue. Private lessons are also available,” she says.

Always drawn to dance, McPherson didn’t take her first class until she was eighteen.

“Growing up, my family guided me more towards team sports, so I didn’t get to dance as a child,” she says.

Fast forward three years, and after being invited to a show at the former Firebelly Lounge in Wilmington, she didn’t look back.

“I met an instructor there, and that is where it all began. I began learning various dances, and in 2002, I took a salsa lesson,” she says. “I went out dancing at a Latin night and I was hooked.”

McPherson enjoys all types of dance; however, she is particularly drawn to the Latin genre.

“While I enjoy Swing and Ballroom as well, I was immediately drawn to the music and movement of Latin dancing,” she says. “How you take your steps and move your body is so exciting and it awakened a part of me that loved expressing myself this way. The music is infectious and there are different dances for the different types of music: salsa, bachata, merengue, cha-cha, and cumbia.”

In 2010 McPherson began her focus on Latin dancing when she began teaching in Charlotte.

“When I returned to Wilmington, I asked to have a sister school to Charlotte Latin Dance, and that is how Wilmington Latin Dance began,” McPherson says.

She is certainly not letting the pandemic stop her.

“I am very excited to be launching a new website that will have our online classes, live classes, and featured world-renowned guest artists,” she says.

According to McPherson, that will be a great way for anyone who has been wanting to dance to be able to work on the basics on their own time and gain confidence.

But she is ready to get back on the dance floor—and connect with so many people again soon.

To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to

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Categories: Culture