by Nathan Sayers
When Megan Skalla traveled to NYC as a Cover Model Search finalist back in April, the DS editors were blown away by her stellar dancing and sweet, sincere personality—and clearly, you were, too. After more than 10,000 total votes (a CMS record!) and a race so close it came down to the final nail-biting minutes, Megan stood out from the pack and took home the title.
When Megan left us, she was getting ready to head to prom and was still unsure about her summer plans. Since then, this 16-year-old has been tearing up the competition scene. She placed in the top three senior solos at The Event Nationals in Las Vegas and then headed to New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in NYC. Her solo was breathtaking, accentuating all her best qualities: long legs, pristine technique and an emotional stage presence that demands attention. The NYCDA judges were impressed and awarded her first runner-up Teen Outstanding Dancer.
Megan’s ability to transfix an audience will surely earn her plenty more wins in her final two years of high school, but we know she’s got the talent and drive to make it far beyond the competition scene and into a successful career. We caught up with Megan to get her take on all the latest events in her life.
Dance Spirit: How did it feel to win first runner-up at NYCDA?
Megan Skalla: It was surreal. When it came down to Jordan [Pelliteri] and
me, I thought it could go either way, and I would have been happy either way. When they called my name for first runner-up, I was so excited, but at the same time, it was hard knowing that I came so close to winning. There were a lot of mixed emotions, but overall, it was a really good feeling.
Ready for the prom
DS: How have you grown as a dancer since the CMS trip?
MS: I feel like I’ve gotten stronger and gained more confidence. Nationals made me realize that I’m a good dancer and I can accomplish things. This year I want to try even harder so I can go even further at NYCDA.
DS: What was it like to be a CMS finalist?
MS: There are really no words to describe it. It’s been such a cool experience, and it was so fun to be able to meet Hannah [Bettes] and Alyssa [Ness]. It’s been amazing to get my name out there and to reach such a huge audience.
DS: How did your school friends react when you told them you’d made it to the final round of competition?
MS: They were like, “Oh, well you’re going to win.” But that was just because they’re not dancers—they didn’t understand how good Hannah and Alyssa are!
DS: You got so many votes! How’d you get the word out?
Being interviewed on a local news show
MS: It was mostly through Facebook and trying to get other people to post it to Facebook, too. Jakob Karr even posted about me! I was like, “Holy cow, Jakob Karr knows who I am?!” Also, the press person from my studio, The Dance Club, got me an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, so there was an article in the newspaper about the competition. Then, our local news channel did a morning show clip on me.
DS: What was it like being interviewed on TV?
MS: I wasn’t sure what to do because I’d never done a live interview before. I never knew where to look. But it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I thought they’d be asking me all these hard questions, but they didn’t.
DS: What’s your advice for future CMS hopefuls?
MS: Just be yourself. Send the best video you have, but know that there are many girls who enter, so if you don’t get it, try again next year. If you do become a finalist, don’t be scared or timid when you go to NYC for the photo shoot and the classes. There’s nothing to lose. Go for it, and give it your all.
Performing at New York City Dance Alliance (ProPix/courtesy NYCDA)
I am so honored and thrilled to be chosen as the Dance Spirit Cover Model Search winner! This whole experience has been wonderful.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me. I am so grateful for your support and love. Also, thank you to Alyssa and Hannah. You are both beautiful inside and out, and I'm so glad I got to meet you in NYC. You made this experience inspirational and unforgettable. And many thanks to the Dance Spirit editors and staff. You're the best! Most of all, I want to thank my family for all you have done to support me in achieving my hopes and dreams.
This has been a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm so happy I could share my love for dance with the DS readers. Thanks again, an good luck to the future CMS finalists!
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.
Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.