It’s safe to say members of Appalachian Ballet Company are over the moon after a recent trip to audition for the Regional Dance America Southeast Festival held in Athens, Georgia.
Director Amy Morton Vaughn and nine of her dancers attended the annual Southeastern Regional Ballet Association event and all nine of the dancers auditioned for the chance to win scholarships. When the evening gala was over, every one of them had earned scholarships, with some taking home two. In all, the ABC members earned 15 scholarships.
The most the dance company has gotten at one time was four.
Vaughn said more than $100,000 worth of scholarships were awarded to members of ballet companies across the Southeast.
Many are for summer training at ballet companies around the country.
One, however, earned by Katelyn Compton, is full tuition to Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
She will spend her entire senior year of high school under their tutelage.
She also was awarded a scholarship to Alabama Ballet.
The other scholarship winners include:
• Calista Jones, who earned a partial scholarship to the Glenda Brown Choreography Project.
• Peyton Andersen, who will attend a Boston Ballet Summer Program on full tuition and also was awarded a scholarship to attend a week of classes with Houston Ballet Academy’s pre-professional program.
• Gianna Brace, who earned a partial scholarship to Joffrey Ballet School in Texas and a full scholarship to Southeast Alabama Dance Company.
• Ashley Pettiford, who was awarded a partial scholarship to Joffrey Ballet Texas and to National Choreography Intensive.
• Ailcy McGill earned the National Choreography Intensive Eurotard Scholarship.
• Annamae Sterling, who also won a National Choreography Intensive Scholarship in memory of Josephine Schwartz.
• Jillian Hokins, who was awarded a partial scholarship to National Choreography Intensive and Commercial Dance Intensive as the “Director’s Pick.” She will travel to Santa Barbara, California.
• Juila Warner, who is the recipient of a partial scholarship to National Choreography Intensive.
• Erin Claxton, who will spend time in New York City as the winner of a partial scholarship to RIOULT Dance Company Summer Intensive.
Catch a performance
All of the students are part of Appalachian Ballet Company in Maryville. Vaughn is director. In addition, she is owner of Van Metre School of Dance, the official school of ABC. A recital featuring Van Metre dancers will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the campus of Maryville College. “Sleeping Beauty” will be performed at 2 p.m. Tickets are still available.
Vaughn’s two daughters also were featured at this regional event attended by hundreds. Kylie Morton Berry had a piece selected to be performed at the gala for a second time. Laura Morton, who dances professionally in Atlanta, had her original choreographed piece selected as an Emerging Choreography program.
“The kids who got scholarships have worked so hard this year,” Vaughn said. She said they traditionally perform four big shows each year, but this year, it is seven.
The final one might be the most anticipated. Vaughn will take her senior company to Edisto Beach, South Carolina, in June to perform on an outdoor stage. They will get the opportunity to spend time with Cheryl Van Metre, the founder of Van Metre School of Dance, and also stay together in two beachfront homes.
“It’s a fun and special way to wrap up a difficult season,” Vaughn said.
Those who aren’t traveling this summer for internships will not sit idly by. Summer camps will be conducted at Van Metre School of Dance in June and July. That will make these dancers even better for the start of another season, Vaughn said.
While this news of recognition for her dancers makes Vaughn proud, she is also having to deal with five of her dancers at Van Metre School of Dance graduating and leaving the company. They are Erin Claxton, a graduate of West High School; Sarah Hartsell, a Maryville High School graduate who will be attending the University of Tennessee; MHS graduate Riann McMillan, who will attend the University of Alabama; homeschooled student Daniel Rickman; and Julieann Simpson of Berea Christian School. She will attend UT.
Vaughn said these graduates are all exceptional students.
“I credit it to being disciplined,” she said. “It’s time management and all of the things they have learned from being here six days a week. It all goes hand in hand.”