The WORK of ART: Finding Stability, With Grit, Determination And Luck

By Thomas Becnel
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Thomas Becnel shares the unique stories of several local artists. How they make a living and continue to do what they love!

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.

For years, Leymis Bolanos Wilmott ran a dance company out of her Honda Civic.

What became Sarasota Contemporary Dance, with a spiffy new office and rehearsal space in the Rosemary District, started out as a small company with an odd name, Fuzion Dance. The founder was also the choreographer, manager, planner, marketer and chauffeur.

“In the beginning, things were really hard,” says Wilmott, 41. “I would say Fuzion Dance On Wheels, because everything was in my car. But I always made the company a priority.”

She did small jobs for little money, but they were all dance-related.

She taught dance classes at Booker High School, the YMCA, the Senior Friendship Center and any other place she could find.

Wilmott and her husband lived in Bradenton, where housing was cheaper, but they committed to Sarasota. She began a relationship with New College of Florida. She collaborated with local arts groups.

Her company matured. She got a new board of directors. Community support helped give Sarasota Contemporary Dance a high-profile headquarters on the Boulevard of the Arts.

“This is saying we’re established, we have a home,” Wilmott says. “It’s rare to have a home. I have friends on Facebook who are like, ‘How did you do it, Leymis?'”

The answer to that question includes 12 years of toil and sacrifice. Wilmott, a mother of two, only got health insurance last year. Her confidence and determination came with reflection and thought.

She keeps a prayer journal and tries to be mindful of her success.

“I believe in the power of prayer,” Wilmott says. “I believe that I was put in Sarasota for this. I was at the right place at the right time — and I put in the time. This didn’t happen overnight. This was not done alone. This happened with a tribe.”

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