We had the good fortune of connecting with Madeline Benoit and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Madeline, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
The idea for Wonder Project has been building in me over the past couple of years. Since moving to NYC at nineteen, I have been traveling back to my hometown in Texas to teach dance classes all around Dallas. I started to notice that after I would finish teaching class, I would almost always end up in deep conversation with the students about my performance career, and I would answer countless questions about how the industry worked. I realized how much I loved and looked forward to those moments I got to spend connecting with students and how much we both gained from it. It then became a staple for me. When I would teach, I would end with a Q&A. I loved that these dancers felt like I was relatable, that they could be vulnerable in asking real questions, and all because their dreams were so big. I saw how big my platform was, having started dancing in a high school drill team, and then dancing as a Kilgore College Rangerette. I saw that even though the drill team industry was massive, there weren’t many dancers transitioning from these teams to the professional world. And when there was, dancers didn’t realize the multitude of opportunities out there. I made it my mission to be a resource to bridge the gap to the professional world. My mom came up with the business name “The Wonder Project” after hearing me “wonder” about this and “wonder” about that for so many years. I wanted performers to go from a state of wondering about the opportunities to truly realizing their wonder and the wonder they create in others. The Wonder Project idea was born. With the pandemic, however, I am unable to travel as much as I usually would, so I started posting social media videos weekly to keep me focused, working one-on-one with dancers wanting to pursue this career and teaching dance classes online. I am currently developing an online curriculum and toolkit to give dancers the tools they need to pursue this career. My dream is to be a source of empowerment, and I can’t wait to see where The Wonder Project goes from here.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I used to be worried to tell my story. I hadn’t trained in dance from a young age, and thought that made my story inferior. As I have grown up, I have come to realize the power in my story. The greatest risk I took was moving from Texas to NYC at nineteen to pursue dance. I think age played a huge factor in my successful transition. I didn’t know all that I was in for, but I was young and eager, and maybe a bit naive. You don’t need to live in NYC to perform, but there is definitely so much opportunity there. I have spent four years in NYC and I have been cut from hundreds of auditions. It is true that you hear one hundred no’s before a yes. It’s challenging at first not to take it personally. It’s also a challenge not to compare your journey to others. The most important factor behind my success both as a performer, but also with my business (The Wonder Project), has been knowing my strengths and what I have to offer. It is important in any industry to identify what you bring to the table that is unique. If you are constantly auditioning with dancers that look like you, or are selling something that other companies sell, it’s crucial to know what sets you apart. In marketing it’s called the unique selling proposition, or USP. Knowing and believing your USP will give you the bold energy to unapologetically be yourself, because you have identified your worth as it relates to the world. The risks that I took from age nineteen until now have brought me the greatest experiences of my career, from dancing twice on the Emmy Award winning show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to being the Associate Choreographer of The Cosmopolitan Magazine Awards as well as halftime routines for the Knicks City Dancers and Brooklynettes Dancers, to traveling the world dancing at theme parks and on cruise ships. I don’t know if anyone would have guessed that I would have done any of those things, especially given how late I began my training in dance. That’s why I feel so passionate about The Wonder Project. I know that these young artists are capable of more than even they can imagine. It all begins with taking a risk and taking a chance on yourself.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
There are so many incredible spots to check out in the Dallas area. I love the diversity here. It’s so easy to find activities when guests are in town. The Perot Museum, the Dallas World Aquarium, and the Dallas Arboretum are some of my favorite activities in the area. I am a musical theatre fan, so I love to spend an evening enjoying a Broadway show put on by Dallas Summer Musicals. Another great performance spot would be the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. My dance team used to take trips to watch their performances and I would try not to blink because I didn’t want to miss a move. I would also go to Legacy West for some shopping and I wouldn’t want to miss out on the best bbq spot in Dallas, the Pecan Lodge. Also, my brother is a Mascot and Entertainer for the Frisco Rough Riders baseball team, so some of my most fond memories are heading to the Dr. Pepper Ballpark to enjoy a game. That is always a fun experience. Lastly, I love when they have food trucks lining Klyde Warren Park. I could spend hours walking around trying different cuisines. I have so many recommendations. Dallas is the perfect vacation destination.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I recognize that a support system is crucial in order to make your dreams a reality. Being a professional dancer and business owner is far from a one person job. I am so grateful that my family was supportive of my passions from the beginning. I recognize that isn’t always the case, and I count my blessings every day that they picked me up at every turn and gave me the tools I needed to succeed. I have two hardworking, loving parents that constantly rock my world with their guidance, wisdom and love. I have six of the world’s most passionate siblings that remind me, with their own goals and accomplishments, how capable I truly am. I also have a husband that has been with me on this journey since day one. I met him two months before I was set to move to NYC, and he jumped into this wild journey with the most fearless energy. He reminds me everyday that I am loved, I am limitless and I have the capacity to change the world. This family, both the one I was born into, and the one I chose, deserve a major shoutout!

Website: https://www.thewonderproject.net
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nycwonderproject/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn-l5PYAj6Wr6pE1NYHUHZg

Image Credits
Broadway Dance Center

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