Scottsdale teen stars in Dance Moms, models – and manages full class load

Tessa Wilkinson (submitted photo)

Tessa Wilkinson (submitted photo)

Tessa Wilkinson sometimes wishes she had a few more hours in the day.

Despite being limited to 24 hours like the rest of us, Tessa packs an incredible amount of activity into each day.

At just 16 years old, Tessa Wilkinson already has an impressive show business resume. She starred in the hit television shows Dance Moms and Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.

She also models professionally, creates and shares dance tutorials via her YouTube channel, and recently started a business with her mom selling custom bags for dancers. Tessa also maintains her own dance lifestyle website, which she set up and designed herself.

Tessa is able to maintain her jam-packed lifestyle, which includes six hours of dance practice each day, and keep up with her classes, thanks to the uniquely flexible curriculum of online school.

Tessa attends Insight Academy of Arizona, a full-time online public school that serves Arizona students in grades 7-12. The flexible scheduling and one-on-one attention at ISAZ allow Tessa to spend more time pursuing her passions and making a brand for herself as she moves into the professional dance world – without compromising her education.

Tessa Wilkinson

Tessa Wilkinson

A dancer since she was just 3 years old, Tessa now travels across the U.S. and Canada for performances, workshops and intensive training. On the road frequently, Tessa never leaves home without her dance gear – or her laptop computer. Wherever she is, Tessa is able to carve out hours each day to stay on top of her studies, and she is on track to graduate a year early in the spring.

“Learning online has given me so many opportunities to learn and grow in and outside of my classes,” said Tessa. “It’s also given me more time for dance and for other things that I love to do.”

In addition to school and dance, Tessa estimates she spends 10 hours a week working to launch her new business. Tessa and her mom design the dance bags, and a prototype is currently in development. She also spends time each day curating her YouTube channel, shooting and posting videos with dance and fitness tips – each one with several thousand views.

“As a dancer there are so many of us and we’re all trying to get the same thing – into college or a dance company – so you have to differentiate yourself,” Tessa says. “I spend so much time training and learning about dance, and it’s been such an important part of my life, that I decided to support other dancers by posting online tutorials.”

After graduation, Tessa hopes to attend the University of Southern California’s prestigious dance program and ultimately dance professionally.

To visit Tessa’s YouTube channel, visit For her personal website, visit

Editor’s Note: Ms. Nipert is a communications specialist for SE2, a public relations firm focused on educational issues.

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