Cherita Wilson, owner of The Dance Zone studio, has been doing something on stage all of her life - whether it be acting, directing, dancing or teaching.

"I've been in 27 plays in my 35 years of life," Wilson said. She boasts being on stage 300 to 400 times in some way or another.

Living in the Midwest, she also had a dream of living by the ocean.

Then one day, when her daughter came home and mentioned something that was out of character, Cherita and her husband, Eric Wilson, decided it was time to leave.

The Wilsons had heard about Brookings, but thought it wasn't the right place. They looked into Coos Bay but then realized it was too dreary for their liking.

However, at the last minute - only four days before leaving Peoria, Ill., two hours outside Chicago - they pointed their moving van toward Brookings.

"We packed up our things. We had no jobs. We had just a vision," Cherita said. The couple moved with their children Ca'Mare'A Freeman, 15, and Erik Wilson, 11. A third child, Ciera, 12, remained in Peoria.

That was three years ago.

Eric got work as a sales representative and Cherita, who has been dancing only five years, began teaching jazz dance with Jodi Harvey.

Jodi told Cherita she thought she was a good teacher and suggested she start teaching zumba. She followed that choice and became a certified instructor, which compliments her degree in music education. Shortly after, Jodi passed the studio on to Cherita, and The Dance Zone was born two months ago.

Zumba is Latin music-inspired dance with simple moves and easy choreography, Cherita said.

"It's a workout under the guise of dance," Cherita said. "At the end of a class, the ladies told me their arms and legs hurt. That's when I tell myself, 'yep, I did my job.'"

While Cherita was establishing herself as a dance instructor in the community, she replanted her stage roots with Brookings Harbor Community Theater. Her daughter, Ca'Mare'A joined in as well.

Cherita worked with actors performing dance routines. Her first play in Brookings was "The Secret Garden."

Working in theater, Cherita came to know Michaela Renee George, an avid dancer and actress who recently played the lead role in the Chetco Pelican Players musical production of "Wizard of Oz."

Michaela and Cherita established a working relationship, and when The Dance Zone came into existence, Michaela was asked if she would be interested in teaching dance classes to young people.

Michaela accepted.

Tuesday and Thursday, Cherita and Michaela hosted free dance classes, as well as an open house on Friday, to introduce the business to the community.

Cherita will continue to teach one-hour zumba classes from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Michaela will be teaching ballet and contemporary dance classes.

Beginning ballet classes, for children ages 4 to 7, will be from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., and beginning contemporary dance classes from 4:30 to 5:30. Intermediate contemporary dance classes, for children 7 to 18, will be Wednesdays, from 2:30 to 3:30, and Thursdays, from 3:30 to 5:30.

Meanwhile, Cherita and Ca'Mare'A continue to be involved in community theater. Cherita is directing the Brookings Harbor Community Theater production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Ca'Mare'A, is designing the dreamcoat.

For more information about The Dance Zone programs, contact Wilson at 541-254-0817 or 541-412-ZONE (9663). The studio is in The Abbey, 430 Oak St., Brookings.