For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
My mom was a dancer growing up, and she went on to become a dance teacher, so I've really grown up in the studio. I started classes when I was 2, and by the time I was 9, I was training at The Dance Club and knew I wanted to dedicate all my time to dance.
Ballet West's Allison DeBona first became a major figure on the pop-culture scene with her stint on The CW series “Breaking Pointe." Her ethereal grace and commanding stage presence have kept her there since. DeBona trained with the Parou Ballet Company (now New Castle Regional Ballet) in New Castle, PA, and the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet while growing up. She later attended Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in ballet before joining Ballet West in 2007. In 2011 she was promoted to demi-soloist, was given the soloist title in 2013 and, finally, was named first soloist in 2015. Catch her next month in the company's production of Madame Butterfly, and read on for The Dirt!
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!