The goal of the Scholar-Artist program is to honor exceptionally accomplished high school seniors September to June. Selections are made, each spring, from a pool of Long Island students. From these nominees, one monthly award winner from Nassau and one from Suffolk is chosen. To learn more visit: http://longislandartsalliance.org/
Haylee Fox, Long Island Scholar Artist
Haylee Fox sees the stage as a canvas of expression. At North Babylon High School, she loves finding ideas "in the moment that draw on my creative inspiration ...Theater can be interpreted and expressed in many different ways through the mean of the character you portray" Haylee says, "Along with this, is this feeling of freedom that you have when you choose to convey your character the way you want to" Haylee held key roles in the high school's Disney and Dinner fundraiser as Merida from “Brave,” “Seussical the Musical,” “12 Angry Jurors,” “The Addams Family,” “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” and “One Last Time.” Working with her classmates is what makes theater fun for Haylee, a National and Thespian honor society member.
Haylee Fox On-Stage
"Its truly inspiring to see others really take the time and dedication to create their character, putting everything they show and represent for their character to leave the script pages and step onto the stage" she says. "It's the first glow of the stage lights, and that first breath of relief that really helps me to carry on during the show."A Tri-M Society and Drama Club member, Haylee shined in the local "Babylon's Got Talent," and performs in holiday events at the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She plans to major in musical theatre and continue acting classes and performances after college."I will continue to pursue my passions and always keep doing what I love and what is most important to me" Haylee says.
Long Island Scholar Artist, Shirley Chen
Shirley Chen feels art helped shape the person she has become at New Hyde Park Memorial High School."Art means a safe place to me" Shirley says, "It is a world in which I can be whoever I wish to be without any restrictions. I can firmly state that making art is the only thing that can make me sit down and do for days without stops."A Celebrating Art Contest High Merit Artist, Shirley serves as president of the school National Art Honor Society, a member of the school National Honor, Science, Math and World Language honor societies. She also serves as a designer for the high school's yearbook club."Art helped me and shaped me into who I am today, and I cannot imagine myself without having art in my life" she says
The Art of Shirley Chen
Shirley has exhibited her artwork at the Sewanhaka Central High School District Art Gallery Solo Artist Show and the Sharron Art Center Charity Art Show. She finds her creative inspiration in everyday occurrences. From daily life happenings to current world events to historical events, "I make art with almost anything that comes to my mind. My mind is like an endless blackhole filled with lots of interesting ideas" she says.The New Hyde Park standout plans to double-major in fine arts/painting and jewelry. She's researching the Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons School of Design at The New School, Pratt Institute and NYU Tisch School of the Arts."I plan to attend graduate school and pursue a higher degree in art" says Shirley.
Long Island Scholar Artist, Keneil Soni
Music helps Keneil Soni tell a tale without speaking. “Music is a way for me to connect with others and share a story without speaking any words,” says the Albertson resident. “I love that I’m able to collaborate with others while making each performance unique. Music is a language that can connect everyone no matter their background or culture and that’s what makes it so special to me.”
At Herricks High School, Keneil is a member of the Juilliard PreCollege Orchestra, serves as Herricks’ Tri-M Honor Society president, Quiz Bowl Varsity Captain and Cross Country Varsity Captain. He also created a performance initiative during the pandemic and raised more than $1,000 for the United Way of NYC. Keneil, a band Freshman of the Year, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the New World Center in Miami with the National Youth Orchestra in 2019 and 2020. He is first horn with the All-National and All-State Orchestra and was accepted as one of eight hornists from across the United States
Keneil in performance at the Juilliard Precollege Senior Recital in Paul Hall, Juliard
“The first time I played at Carnegie was when I was in sixth grade, but I wasn’t the main attraction,” says Keneil. “I was there to watch a Sarah Willis masterclass. Now, I’m playing with the National Youth Orchestra.”
Keneil plans to major in either neuroscience or biology after high school. “I aspire to become a neurosurgeon while conducting research outside of my clinical practice,” says Keneil. “I’ve conducted research with mentors from Weill Cornell Medical Center and Columbia University regarding Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.”
Caitlin Rees, Long Island Scholar Artist
Caitlin Rees uses art to foster personal connections. When itcomes to her work, a story through pictures is the one worth telling. “To me, art is a form of self-expression and communication,” says the Harborfields High School standout. “When I want to tell a story, I do it through art. This allows my ideas to be interpreted by the viewer in a way that feels personal and connected to them.” Caitlin’s work has been featured in the Harborfields Public Library Art Show as well as “Zephyr Magazine.” She is a member of her school’s theatre company and vocal ensemble, as well as the National Honor Society and Tri-M National Music Honor Society. Caitlin, of Greenlawn, is a Harborfields Drama Awardwinner, a Harborfields Outstanding Achievement in Photography Award-winner and a two-time Harborfields Musicianship Award winner.
The Art of Caitlin Rees
“I find my creative inspiration through my desire to tell a story,” says Caitlin. “On a daily basis, I see ways to use photography in everyday life.”
Within her community, Caitlin has been a part of Northport theatre for more than 10 years. After high school, Caitlin plans to go to college to pursue a career in secondary English education while minoring in photography.
After college, Caitlin hopes to work with high school students in a classroom setting and help them get involved in the arts.
Rachel Gordon, Long Island Scholar Artist
Art for Rachel Gordon is about expression. At Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, her pieces aim to aid in self expression and serve as a stress reliever.“Art is very important to me because I’m able to showcase my interests through my artwork,” says Rachel. “I like to use movement and abstraction in my pieces to show how I view the objects or landscapes that I’m portraying. Art is something that I can always go to if I’m stressed because I enjoy doing it and it’s very calming.”Rachel’s artwork has been featured in the high school’s “Creative Patterns” magazine and displayed at Heckscher Museum’s annual National Arts Honor Society Collaborative Art Installation.
The Artwork of Rachel Gordon
“I find creative inspiration through everything around me, like my friends and family, landscapes and my hobbies,” Rachel says. “Since I want to be an architect in the future, many of my pieces focus on buildings from different places that I’ve visited. I love using bright colors in my work, so I often try to incorporate colorful objects or places that I’ve seen into my work.”Rachel holds key memberships in the National Honor Society, plus the Science, Spanish and Art honor societies. She also competes on the varsity swim and badminton teams.Rachel plans to study architecture in college and would like to design buildings that help establish environmentally friendly cities in the future.
Long Island Scholar Artist, Nathaniel Eck
Dance for Nathaniel Eck is a collaboration tool. It serves as a driving force to his skill set.“Dance means a lot to me,” says the Massapequa High School student. “Collaborating with my peers has taught me the importance of unity in thought and open-mindedness.”A dancer since age 3, Nathaniel worked with choreographers such as Theresa Stone, Skooj and Gianna Martello. He’s also a regional and national title winner of multiple dance competitions.
Nathaniel Eck in Performance
As co-president of the French Club, Nathaniel performed with the TurnItUp National Dance Team, Fierce National Dance Team, among others. He also serves on the Helping Hands Club, Key Club, French Club, National Junior Honor Society, National HonorSociety, National Honor Society for Dance Arts and Long Island High School for the Arts Student Council.“Dance captures the significance of individuality and creativity,” says Nathaniel. “It causes the mind to think differently and truly helps the artist understand who they are as a human being.”Nathaniel currently teaches dance to children, ages 6-11 on the Legacy Dance Center Munchkin’s competition team. He also participated in Joffrey’s Jazz and Contemporary Summer Intensive with Michael Waldrop and Angelica Stitskin.“The honor of being trusted by my studio to help train the younger generation of dancers allows me to appreciate the importance of hard work,” he says.Nathaniel plans to obtain a dance degree in college. He wants to continue to improve his technique and choreographic skill as an artist and hopes to establish connections to get involved in the dance industry.
Long Island Scholar Artist, Riley Wendt
The creative process for Riverhead High School's Riley Wendt begins with honoring what came before. "My creative inspiration comes largely from listening to other great musicians perform;sometimes the sheer passion and emotion that is conveyed through their art isenough to inspire a change in my own play-style or musical mindset," says Riley, a NYSSMA Dean L. Harrington Memorial Scholarship winner. Riley was a finalist in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute's (BUTI's) Percussion Workshop mock audition last year. He was accepted to the Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar (JSPS)in 2020, as well as the Young Artist Instrumental Program at BUTI in 2021
Riley Wendt, in-concert
"Music, to me, is a symbol of the deep connection we share neurologically with sound, and therebycommunication, says Riley. "Like all art, music can never be perfect, and the cycle of constantly incorporating new tools, in order to communicate more effectively, is part of what draws me to it. "During the COVID lockdown, Riley was still an active performer in many musical outlets. He played aMarimba arrangement of Fritz Kreisler's "Tambourin Chinois" for renowned percussionist Haruka Fujīi'svirtual Percussion Intensive recital at JSPS in 2020. Also, at JSPS 2020, he performed in several virtual percussion ensemble pieces, including works by great contemporary composers such as Paola Prestiniand Nico Muhly. Riley plans to attend Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and major in percussion performance.After college, Riley wants to one day perform in a major orchestra and travel the world
Andrew Defrin, Long Island Scholar Artist
For Andrew Defrin of Roslyn High School, he looks no further than the story of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka for guidance. "A major source of inspiration for me has always been the story of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' by Roald Dahl," says Andrew. "The idea of creating inventions,so fantastical they seem almost impossible, has always been a theme I like to try and carry throughout my life." Andrew sees the stage as an avenue for creativity. This is evident in his work at thehigh school on "The Guest" as a writer, "Songs for a New World" as assistant director and "Spring Awakening" as a co-lighting designer. "Theatre has limitless possibilities so I like to reach as high as I possibly can in anything I create," he says.
Scholar Artist, Andrew Defrin, behind the board for a live event
Andrew served as director on "The COVID Monologues," at the high school, which won Best Ensemble, BestSupporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing, Audience Choice Award and Best Play at NewYork State Thespian Festival last year. He also worked as assistant director, lighting designer and production designer on the performance of "Carrie." Andrew holds memberships in the National Honor Society, the high school's Royal Crown Players and isheavily involved with the International Thespian Festival. He is currently applying to theatre schools, with afocus on directing. "To me, theatre means nothing more than pure imagination," says Andrew
Samantha Edelman, Long Island Scholar Artist
At Roslyn High School, Samantha Edelman sees creativity through a camera lens and music. Art and creating short films like her recent work, "From Inside Out," helps Samantha find her voice. "I find my creative inspiration from connecting with myself or listening to music," Samantha says. Samantha helped out in the high school's Art, Astronomy, Book and Forensics clubs while working for the school's newspaper, "The Hilltop Beacon." She also served on the Yearbook Committee for the Long Island High School for the Arts.
A scene from one of Samantha Edelman's films
"My creative process starts with an idea that twists and turns in my head until it has to come out," says Samantha. While at LIHSA, Samantha has written four scripts, directed four films and mastered new programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects, as well as creating animated films. Samantha plans to apply to a liberal arts college that is in a place she would enjoy frequently being creative and continuing her craft of filmmaking while also exploring other artistic ideas. After college, she plans to continue a career in the arts, create her own movies and possibly start a fashion line. "[Filmmaking] has enriched my life in many ways," she says. "Being able to express myself gives me confidence, joy and a way to connect with people."
Long Island Scholar Artist, Ashley Reisert
Wantagh High School's Ashley Reisert feels at home in the ballet studio. Each step in the art of dance has played a significant role in her life. "The movement is freeing and with every step, I feel myself fall deeper and deeper in love with the art form," says Ashley. Ashley won a merit scholarship to attend the Manhattan Youth Ballet and was presented with the Oberlin College Book Award last year for maintaining high academic standards while attending the prestigious ballet school. She has attended numerous five-week, summer intensive programs at the School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Boston Ballet and Carolina Ballet. "The stage is my safe space to explore new parts of myself that only ever come out under the lights," she says.
Ashley Reisert in performance
Ashley holds memberships in the National Science, English and World Language honor societies and serves as the Science Olympiad's team captain. She led a team of students under Warriors for a Cure through theLeukemia and Lymphoma Society's 2021 Students of the Year fundraising campaign, raising $110,511. "Every time I get in the studio is another opportunity to explore something new. I'll never dance a piece the same way as I once did and that in and of itself is inspiring," says Ashley. Ashley, who plans to major in psychology, has applied to a variety of universities that are strong both academically and artistically. She wants to attend a school that is "going to provide me with a good educationbut also gives me the opportunity to dance and have that creative outlet."
Suffolk Long Island Scholar Artist, Jamie Salmonson
For Mount Sinai High School student Jamie Salmonson, art is always about connection and the next idea. This is evident in her artwork that graces the high school's front hallway. "The world around me, specifically relationships with friends and family, is my inspiration," says Jamie. "The pieces I create are dependent on how I feel and daily scenarios; I am constantly observant and note down when I have an idea for my next project." A member of the Art and STEM clubs, Jamie uses art to step away from the day-to-day grind. The Mount Sinai resident also holds memberships to the Future Business Leaders of America,Students Against Destructive Decisions, Interact Club, Peer Leaders and Mathletes.
The work of Jaimie Salmonson
"My art is my escape," she says. "My escape from stress, my door to the abyss of my mind's creativity. Knowing that I could merge my imagination and reality together just by using a pen and paper is a superpower I wish to master." A key member of the high school's yearbook committee, Jamie is currently researching universities andseeks an institution that "allows me to express my passion for art as well as indulge myself in academicstudies relating to mathematics and sciences." "My future is unwritten, my main goal is to fall in love with what I do every day," Jamie says.
Nassau County Long Island Scholar Artist, Max Bass
Acting for Syosset High School standout Max Bass is about personal experience.He feeds off it to provide a stellar performance. This is clear in his roles as Sky in"Mamma Mia," Prince Eric in "The Little Mermaid," Ryan Evans in "High SchoolMusical," among other productions. "As an actor, I find most of my creative inspiration from personal experiences,"he says. "Experiencing the world around me lets me become more conscious of other lives and feelings, which elevates my theatrical performances." Max is currently in the Syosset Chamber Singers and serves as music manager and tenor section leader. He is also part of Syosset A.C.T., a drama club, and is the current dance captain.
Max Bass as Prince Eric in “The Little Mermaid"
Max is also a key member of the Syosset Choral Pride and is the current vice president of event planning,choreography and is section leader. He recently performed with The Notables, a mixed acapella group, forthe first time in 2021. "When I'm on stage, I focus only on what the character wants and nothing else," says Max, an InternationalThespian Society Troupe member. "It is my way to express myself and show my emotions through thecharacters I play and relate to. Theater is what keeps me going and keeps my energy focused in the right direction." Max plans to major in musical theatre after high school, with dreams of acting on Broadway
Isabella Panag, Suffolk County Long Island Scholar Artist for December
Music for Isabella Panag is a creative challenge that she welcomes. Isabella credits teachersat Mount Sinai High School for helping her master the craft. "I find my creative inspiration from my vocal teacher, Mrs. Vivienne Grizzle-Jaber," says Isabella. "She always encourages me to take on the most challenging pieces and guides me through my musical and, quite frankly, every endeavor. "Isabella believes she, "would not be as accomplished of a singer or as confident in my abilities if it wasn't for Mrs. Vivienne. "Isabella was recently heard at the Associated Music Teachers League Honors Recital. She is also the founder ofStrings4Smiles NYC, a registered nonprofit dedicated to providing underprivileged children with a musicaleducation. Isabella worked on creating lessons plans and benefit concerts to support children interested inlearning vocal and string performance.
Isabella Panag in performance
"Art is the rawest form of our expression," says Isabella, president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. "My art ismy voice, and I have used it to heal myself and others, especially when my father was battling cancer. "Isabella plans to pursue a four-year degree in finance and music and hopes to excel in the New York finance sector while continuing her passion in vocal performance. "Art brings us together, and for a moment, lets us forget about the stressors that we face daily, Isabella says."Without art, I would not have been able to persevere in the face of adversity."
Nassau County December Long Island Scholar Artist, Matt Pollackov
Creativity for Matt Pollackov comes from his time in the fifth grade when he firstdiscovered art. The East Rockaway Junior/Senior High School standout recalls the first assignment with fond memories — a drawing of Julius Caesar. "I remember spending a lot of time and genuinely having a great time drawing it and although the piece is not very good, that was my first discovery of art," he says. Matt credits his art teachers for helping him hone his craft. It's evident from the Scholastic Art and Writing gold and silver key wins he nabbed for the school district."My current teachers, Mrs. Galante and Mrs. Cabasso, have been amazing the last two years pushing me to try new things. "They pushed me to take harder art classes, try new subjects; they force me to step outside of mycomfort zone and they give me their real thoughts on if they don't like something so that I can improve every day. "Matt took second place at the recent New York Congressional Art Competition and is a member of the NationalHonor Society. For his portfolio, Matt puts his own experiences into the pieces.
The work of Matt Pollackov
"I didn't necessarily intend it, but I sometimes get the feeling of loss in two of the drawings of abandoned buildings Isubmitted," says Matt. While accomplished and recognized, Matt stays humble, particularly when it comes to awards. "Winning any sort of award doesn't feel real to me," he says. "For much of my time, making art was something Ifocused on during my personal time and to see that work being rewarded is kind of unreal." Matt wants to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and dreams to work in an animationstudio with Disney or DreamWorks.
Suffolk Long Island Scholar Artist, Peyton Darby
The art of dance for Peyton Darby comes from study. At St. Anthony's High School, she finds inspiration from others. "Creativity is everywhere," says Peyton, an Orlando Ballet School standout. "I find mine from my peers, environment and feelings. Ballet is great for creative inspiration as I learn new artistry just by watching other dancers. "Peyton was accepted into many prestigious ballet programs and companies across the country, including the Orlando Ballet, Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and Carolina Ballet. She has performed at nursing homes and for the Lynch Ballet Company in "The Nutcracker," "Don Quixote" and "Swan Lake," among other productions. "I love to implement different artistic movements that I see from my friends into my own dance," Peyton says. A member of the National Honor Society, Social Studies, English, Science, Math and Foreign Language honor societies, Peyton wants to broaden her educational scope during and after college while pursuing dance.
Peyton Darby, L.I. Scholar Artist for dance
"Art means everything to me," says Peyton, a standout at St Anthony's Variety Show. "Every component of my life is influenced by the arts in some way. The arts create a person and I feel as I am no exception. My persona is heavily influenced by the disciplines and values taught in the ballet world. It is something that I am forever grateful for. "Peyton is currently applying to colleges and wants to pursue a business major with a double-major or minor in dance." One day I would love to choreograph a ballet or even my own choreography," says Peyton. "I enjoy working with dancers and showcasing their talents and implementing the lessons I've learned from all my amazing teachers over the years."
Nassau Long Island Scholar Artist Kayley Ji
A standout artist, Kayley Ji of Syosset takes the road less traveled. The Syosset High School standout finds new ways to spark her creativity on a daily basis. "Looking at things through different perspectives helps me in my creative process," says Kayley. "It is always fascinating when I am able to get a glimpse of what I previously did not understand. That's why by engaging in conversations with others, I can often find new ways to see the world, which translates to how I make my art." A three-time Scholastic Art & Writing Award winner for drawing and illustration, Kayley was selected to exhibit her work for the Westchester Association of Chinese Americans in 2019. She recently took first place in the Olympic of the Visual Arts (OVA) Competition as team lead in the painting group.
The art of Kayley Ji
"Ever since I was little, I was always drawn to creating whatever I can envision in my mind," she says. "Due to my love for the whimsical, inspired by the story books I have read, there was always an itch in me to illustrate so the vague forms in my mind can take shape into something tangible. Continuously intrigued by the world, carrying a notebook everywhere I went eventually led to so much more than I've ever expected." Locally, Kayley sent handmade cards to the elderly during the pandemic and helped her high school to create designs, posters and digital artwork for peers, clubs and teachers. Kayley's mother is her biggest inspiration."[My mom] is the one that has always encouraged me to explore my passions and to seek out new horizons," says Kayley. "An admirer of art herself, I grew to share a similar appreciation"
Long Island Scholar Artist, Megan Bush
The theater for Megan Bush is a place of familiarity. Her skills have shined on multiple stages, from the Nassau Community College Monologue Competition to Deer Park High School's Breakfast of Champions. "My creative inspiration comes from the world around me: within nature, melodies or scripts," says Megan. "I am motivated to create poetry, a new dance piece, or a character to perform." Megan will direct the One Act Play Festival and plans to co-host Cabaret Night this fall. She could also be seen in the Winter Play and Spring Musical. Before the pandemic, Megan served as a student-teacher at Vic D'amore's American Studio of Performing Arts working with young dancers training in ballet and tap."Art can shape the world and that is what's most rewarding," said Megan, president of the National Honor and International Thespian honor societies. "It can make people think. It can make people question; I want my art to tell a story."
Megan Bush, on-stage
Megan's talents extend past the stage. This is evident in her key roles as vice president of the Spanish Honor Society, her dedication to the Math and Science honor societies, plus her position as co-chair of the Poems, Essays and Novels Society. Megan, a volunteer with Dancing for Autism, uses her craft to answer one question. "What can I do as an artist to send a message? This question I ask myself as I take on any project," says Megan. Megan plans to pursue a degree in musical theatre while also staying involved in performance-based activism and choreography
Long Island Scholar Artist, Eileen Zhao
Violin has come naturally to Eileen Zhao, even from a very young age. Her dedication paid off, culminating in a performance as a soloist during the International Crescendo Competition at Carnegie Hall where she took first-place honors, and an appearance on CNN's "Fourth in America" special on July 4 alongside country star Billy Ray Cyrus. "At the age of four, I was placed in group violin lessons with children around my age. Music had already appealed to my interests at the time through TV shows and movies, but violin lessons were something that elevated my interest and value placed in music," says the North Shore High School standout. A concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra, Eileen holds key memberships to the Tri-M Music Honor Society and the Environmental Club. For Eileen, past lessons drive her creative fire
"My inspiration for creating music comes from the lessons I've learned over the years and putting them into the context of the repertoire I'm performing," says Eileen, who teaches violin to sixth-graders. "Being able to see and hear so many incredible musicians has directly taught me different ways of understanding music, and that inspires me to create a new interpretation of an orchestral work." Eileen also served as concertmaster in the 2018-19 Symphony Orchestra for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and last year's Long Island String Arts Festival. "I find that learning from my peers and teachers has been very impactful on my playing," says the All-County musician. "When watching other musicians, you're able to directly see and listen to the way others display their passion and interpretation of the musical work." Eileen plans to major in biology and pursue a career in medicine
Suffolk County Long Island Scholar Artist, Vivienne Love
The camera for Vivienne Love is about style, composition and angles. Photography came into her life at an early age. "What got me interested in photography is when a camera was placed into my hands when I was little, mostly for my parents' amusement, and it eventually became second nature for me to take photos," Vivienne of East Patchogue says. "I was encouraged to take pictures of anything, even muddy grass or a shaky photo of my cat." For Vivienne, setting up a shot is a privilege. "Somewhere in my house, there is an album with knee-high photos of Disneyland," says Vivienne, a member of the National, Math and Science honor societies. "I saved up enough for a Nintendo DSi, equipped with two 0.3-megapixel cameras within the front and top screens. From there, my interest kept growing, and I just kept on growing my projects."
(pictured above, the work of Vivienne) At Bellport High School, Vivienne won the Teeny Recognition for Lighting for the production of "The Game's Afoot." She also helped build the set and organize the production's audio. "Participating in crew really helped me grow as a person," Vivienne says. "I've made countless friends, and it allowed me to grow my leadership skills with the small group I share the lighting booth with." Vivienne, the school yearbook's president, recently exhibited her work at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, The Suffolk County Art Leaders Association Showcase, among other events. She plans to study radio, film and television in college with a minor in environmental science.
Long Island Scholar Artist, Anna Verutes
Dance for Anna Verutes goes back to her days as a toddler. The South Side High School standout has dedicated her life to the craft. "When I watch the recording of my first recital, I realize how comfortable I was on stage," she says. "I was fearless and happy, even at the age of two. The art of dance has enriched my life in so many ways both emotionally and physically." In July, Anna performed in Times Square for the TV show "Wonderama" as part of the Times Square Summer Concert Series. She recently shined in the 2021 Battery Dance Festival with the Kanyok Arts Initiative.
(pictured above, the work of Anna Verutes) "When I am dancing, I feel extreme joy and that there is nothing else I'd rather be doing," Anna, of Rockville Centre, says. "Dance is something that allows me to truly be myself, and I am not worried about what others think of me." A member of the National Honor Society, plus the Spanish and Math honor societies, Anna danced with the Eglevsky Ballet Company in Bethpage for five years, calling the work "extremely special." "My teachers at Kanyok Arts Initiative and Eglevsky have instilled so much confidence throughout my years of training, and it has helped me become the dancer I am today," she says. Anna plans to dance in college with a focus on ballet, modern dance and jazz. She's currently recording audition videos and preparing school applications.