Inspiring Creativity Across Disciplines
By Hayley Prokos
Even as a little girl Denise Troy knew she was a creative. She practiced dance out of Kansas City until heading off to New York University to study graphic design. At 21, she traveled to Baltimore to dance in the modern-day classic film “Step Up”. After wrapping the film, a bright-eyed Troy set her sights on Los Angeles, where she would forge her way as a choreographer, dance teacher and entrepreneur.
Today, Troy’s main focus is to connect with and inspire as many creatives as possible through her social good company, Wunderkid. The e-commerce company, founded in 2014, showcases and sells student artwork, from painting to sketchwork to custom-designed greeting cards. As a bonus, Wunderkid places fifty percent of the profit from each sale in a college fund for the students.
“My creative journey started when I was very young. I distinctly remember at the age of 7, I would gather all of my cousins together and teach them dances. Creativity came naturally; it was an inherent gift that I could tap into with ease,” Troy said.
While an attraction to the arts was “very instinctual” for Troy, helping others learn how to do the same became a more fulfilling passion. “As I grew older, I realized that our current system often left our youth to fend for themselves on their creative journey. Academic programs were repeatedly granted more funds while creative and performing arts programs received cutbacks. Schools championed academic achievement, while allowing imagination and creativity to become afterthoughts,” she said.
To help her in this effort, she turned to choreographer Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit”, a manual she has used over the years to help others find their creative voice.
Troy also credits her former dance teacher, Shirley Marley, for instilling a sense of self-assurance and creative ambition. “She was so good at fostering the creative spirit,” explained Troy. “She did something that made all of her students confident that we could pursue our dreams.”
After years of teaching and motivating youth through dance classes, Troy decided that it was time to make a bigger impact, to impart the importance of imagination and artistry on a larger scale.
“After years teaching, I’d begun to recognize that my passion wasn’t confined solely to dance. Rather, dance was merely a vehicle to my true calling...inspiring others to connect to their creative self,” Troy said.
And so came the birth of Wunderkid.
“All of a sudden I have kids all over the world who have realized their creative capacity and that their dreams are possible,” said the female entrepreneur. “I hope that, through this process, I can impart everything I’ve learned about the creative process to as many individuals as possible and help others achieve a connection to their creative self.”
Looking into the future, Troy hopes to expand the reach of her business, to promote artists across the disciplines. “We all have creativity within us,” Troy said. “My goal is, with Wunderkid specifically, to be able to reach the broader scope of the creative field to include dancers, fashion designers or any discipline that invokes the creative self.”
In the meantime, the committed creative will continue to encourage the simple notion that each of us has an original voice. She said: 'The way we see the world is what makes us beautiful, and the more we realize that, the more comfortable we can be in our own skin.'"
To learn more about Denise and Wunderkid, visit their website here.