Nelson began her career as a dancer, before transitioning to choreography in the late 1950s. She worked on such stage events as Disney on Parade, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby performing at Madison Square Garden, and a 1979 revival of Oklahoma!. Television work includes dance steps for episodes of Bonanza and Columbo, two Academy Awards broadcasts, and Stan Freberg's special The Federal Budget Review, or the Six Biollion Dollar Misunderstanding. Film choreography includes Picnic, Cat Ballou, The Apartment, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
Of her Muppet choreography, Nelson spoke as follows, in the presskit for Sesame Street Live:
|“||The personality of the Muppets has always fascinated me. Their roles are so adaptable to creative choreography that bringing them to life musically is a great professional accomplishment.||”|