Local Broadway performer creates scholarship to help young dancers
Stanly County native and Broadway performer Cassidy Stoner has created a partial scholarship in collaboration with the Albemarle Academy of Dance to help young performers seeking financial assistance toward attending summer professional dance camps or intensives.
“There are a plethora of summer intensives across the country that provide a wealth of knowledge and offer challenging curriculums to help elevate your craft to the next level,” according to the scholarship’s website. “The hope of Raising the Barre (the name of the scholarship) is to encourage students to branch out, broaden their horizons and support the next generation of artists by making these cutting-edge opportunities more accessible.”
The winner will be announced next year, which also happens to be the 30th anniversary of AAD.
“I thought it was a great idea,” AAD owner Leigh Roush said when Stoner first contacted her.
Roush said there can be a bit of intimidation for small-town dance students auditioning for summer dance intensives in bigger cities.
“She wanted to do it as an encouragement to let the kids here know that yes, they are good enough,” Roush said.
Stoner, 25, grew up practicing at Albemarle Academy of Dance for about 10 years and was also part of the Talent Company performing arts organization. The Gray Stone Day School graduate, who now resides in New York City, is touring the country in the Broadway hit musical “Aladdin.”
“Albemarle Academy of Dance really does mean everything to me,” Stoner, who has come back to help teach classes, said. “There are lessons I learned in those classrooms that I have carried with me throughout life.”
Besides learning to dance and perform, AAD taught her discipline, perseverance, respect and confidence, she said.
For Stoner, creating the scholarship was a way to give back to her community and help young dance students experience the same summer intensives she did as a kid.
“I would love to give someone the opportunity who really, really is passionate about performing and being an artist,” Stoner said.
Applicants must be between 10 and 18 years old and fill out the application form, keep a progress journal for four weeks (a minimum of two entries per week) and answer five critical questions.
Applications, which take a minimum of four weeks, must be completed by Feb. 17. After turning in all the relevant materials, a few finalists will be selected to attend an interview with Roush, or another AAD teacher, and Stoner (via FaceTime or Skype).
The winner, who will receive $1,000, will be announced April 15.
Stoner said AAD helped her grow and learn to take risks and venture outside her comfort zone. She hopes other dancers will learn to do the same.
“There’s a big world out there,” Stoner said, “and especially as artists, the more you go out and see, and the more you learn outside of what is safe and comfortable, the better artists you’re going to be, and the more well-rounded of a person you’re going to be, and that just creates a wide pool of emotional content for you to pull from as a performer.”
For more information about the scholarship, visit www.raisingthebarrescholarship.com.