Calley Skalnik 16 ~ Denton Contemporary Ballet Scholarship
I am Calley Skalnik, a 16 year old junior at Augustine Christian Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I study at Augustine part-time, and home school for other elective classes. Since the age of 8, I have attended Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education. Growing up in the Vaganova technique, I have been privileged to study under Luidmela Polonskaya, Vladimir Stadnik, Sarkis Kalkachin, Stephanie Murrish, and Daniil Gaifullin. When I first started at the school, I would watch the Tulsa Ballet company in rehearsals and performances and decided that was my dream, to become just like them.
Ballet gives me the freedom to express myself within discipline. Without ballet, I would have no artistic outlet. Everyday I look forward to the familiar exercises in class to express as well as challenge myself. It is the greatest feeling to set a goal and accomplish it, while at the same time putting something of myself into the movement. That is what I hope to do this summer: set a higher goal for myself and grow in new and unexpected ways.
The past few summers I have attended the HARID Conservatory for the Arts, Boston Ballet, and the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute on scholarship. Every year I am overwhelmed with knowledge, advice, and corrections. Absorbing as much as possible, I always come back a better dancer and a better person. I look forward to another great summer of experience and growth.
This year I would like to attend the Houston Ballet Summer Intensive to grow in technique and artistry, as well as get a feel for the school and company. In the next two years I would like to join either a trainee program or an apprenticeship with a company or second company. I am inspired by several company members of the Houston Ballet and hope to audition for the Houston Ballet School and Second Company while at the summer intensive. This year’s summer intensive could be the bridge to a dream job with the professional company, and this scholarship would help me to continue to grow and pursue my goal.
This summer I attended the Ellison ballet summer intensive. This turned out to be the best decision I have ever made, and this scholarship enabled me to go and form new relationships with students and teachers. This is the first summer intensive that has taught me how to have a deep respect for ballet. Mr. Ellison emphasized passion, dedication, and determination. I was challenged to dig deeper into myself and my body to find my drive, and what motivated me to devote every ounce of my being to the technique and details of ballet. Although it was overwhelming at first, once I dedicated myself completely to my work, I felt a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. I learned to set the example of hard work in my own school and to not be shy or afraid to stand out and work your absolute hardest. I realized that the life of dance and the joy of movement must sparkle in your eyes and project into your movement. I have also gained a newfound love and appreciation of music, thanks to the live pianists and emphasis on respecting the music. The sound inspires me to dance, and I dance to inspire other people.
Spending time in the classroom training under Mr. Ellison was a very unique and motivational experience that I will never forget. I also appreciated that you could talk to the teachers at any time about any questions and they would be more than happy to answer them. In fact, they encouraged curiosity. It was different dancing with a new class of people but also very encouraging to be with so many other aspiring and talented students. At the end of the four week summer intensive we had a demonstration day to show our parents and friends all of the repertory, skills, and artistry we had learned. I also really enjoyed the two week pas de deux intensive that followed in which we learned and demonstrated two pas de deux from the ballets Esmeralda and Raymonda, both of which I had never studied before. I grew in so many new and unexpected ways this summer. I did not expect to make so many new friends, or to grow so immensely in such a short amount of time. This scholarship enabled me to attend this program and to travel and stay in New York City, as well as to work under such a high caliber of training that would be hard to find anywhere else. I would most definitely recommend both the scholarship and the program to other aspiring dancers! Thank you for such an amazing summer, one of the best yet!