Footloose and fearless

Story by Josie Randall


Photos by Precious Portrait by Kathleen Goertzen

Fall 2023

Tia Wildeman has been slipping into dance shoes since she was just two years old.

Now, the 18-year-old graduate from W.H. Croxford High School is packing her bags and heading west.

Wildeman has been accepted into The Source Dance Company, a Vancouver-based semi-professional dance company for emerging professional dancers.

“I’m a mix of excited and nervous,” Wildeman admits. “I’m really excited for new opportunities and new friends, but I am nervous about being far from home.”

A lifelong passion
Wildeman has been dancing for 16 years at Ambition Performing Arts in Airdrie, a studio founded by her mother, Tara Pickford.

Throughout the years, she has mastered every leap, plié and step ball change, exploring a variety of styles such as tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop and lyrical.

“Really any kind of style I find myself enjoying every move, but I am drawn towards tap,” Wildeman says. “Dancing just always came to me really easily. I just kind of had an ear for hearing all the different rhythms.”

Pickford says it has been a special experience sharing her passion with her daughter, watching her grow within the community she created as a safe haven for children to flourish into remarkable individuals.

“It is a special connection that teachers share with our students; we are the ones who see them working through the highs and lows of training and goal setting, the peaks and valleys of performances.”

Bright future ahead
While Wildeman is looking forward to expanding her dance training and experiencing the professional stage, it may not be her sole focus.

Her grandfather’s passing during her early teens sparked a profound calling to become a cancer researcher.

“That was my first close-up experience with cancer and I saw how there wasn’t a cure for it. I worked through my pain by dancing,” says Wildeman. “I’m looking forward to the road ahead of me. I know I’ll always have my love for dancing, so I am going to work really hard and make something of myself whatever happens.”