By Carol C. Neugent
Not all 16 year olds have their future planned at such a young age, but Campus High School junior Chad Vaught doesn’t hesitate when asked what he sees himself doing following graduation in a year.
“I would like to dance with a company…if that doesn’t work out I’d like to open my own studio and get into choreography,” Vaught said
Vaught’s recent acceptance into the prestigious Julliard School summer intensive program for dance is another step toward reaching that goal. It also is a dream come true for Vaught, who cracks a wide smile when he describes the moment he learned he was accepted.
It was Feb. 22 and he was attending a dance competition in Dallas.
“I opened an email and started yelling, ‘Oh my gosh…oh my gosh…oh my gosh,’” Vaught said as he relived the feeling. “I started running around until I could find my teacher.”
Vaught is one of only 44 students aged 15 to 17 from across the world who were selected to attend. The program’s applicants formed an extremely large and highly-competitive pool of Julliard hopefuls. Before even being able to apply, applicants were required to have extensive ballet training.
Additional audition requirements proved to be both demanding and difficult. For his video audition, Vaught was required to submit a video that consisted of an introduction, numerous and technically difficult moves and combinations designed to demonstrate technique, and a solo. Once the video was submitted it was a matter of waiting.
From July 14 to Aug. 3, Vaught’s days will be filled with classes in ballet technique, classical partnering, and modern dance. He also will take classes in ballroom, music, and improvisation. The evenings will be devoted to rehearsals of new choreography and collections. Pieces the dancers learn are then presented in a showcase on the last day of the program.
While at Julliard, Vaught will have the unique opportunity to study under members of the school’s college dance division as well as world-renowned guest artists. These instructors and choreographers come from various dance backgrounds including positions with Martha Graham Dance Company and the iconic New York City Ballet. Vaught also will be able to experience New York City by attending local cultural events.
Vaught’s rode to Julliard is paved with hard work and determination.
“I spend about 18 hours a week in the studio,” he said.
Weekends can be further filled with the various competitions that Vaught attends four times a year. Recently he competed in Star Power where his contemporary solo took first in both category and overall.
At an early age Vaught’s parents, Mark and Diana, recognized that their son had a special talent.
“When he was little he’d go into his room with a Disney video and come out and do some kind of routine,” Diana said. “I thought, we really need to put him somewhere.”
Vaught started dancing at the age of 10 with the MGM Studio of the Dance in Wichita. For the last three years he has danced with Midwest Dance Mechanix in Valley Center where he also teaches. Although contemporary and hip hop are Vaught’s favorite forms of dance, he also studies and performs lyrical, jazz, ballet, and tap.
Vaught has also pursued acting from a young age. When he was in third grade he spent three months in California auditioning for and securing acting roles and jobs. Vaught’s entire sixth grade year was also spent in California pursuing his acting career. His Mom proudly points out that Vaught is now SAG eligible.
It would seem that between dance and acting Vaught would have little time for any other activities, let alone school work. School has remained, however, extremely important to Vaught and his parents. He is currently ranked third in his class and maintains over a 4.0 grade average.
Vaught has been a member of the Campus Student Council since his freshman year and was elected class president his sophomore, junior, and soon-to-be senior years. He is a member of Link Crew, A-Team, Natural Helpers, and is the President of the National Honor Society.
Vaught holds out hope that after graduation he may be accepted in to Julliard’s equally prestigious undergraduate program in dance. His dad said he believes that would be a great avenue for his youngest son to pursue his future goals.
“Being in New York would open up a lot of opportunities,” said Mark.
Vaught admits he does have a Plan B. He would like to attend UCLA and pursue a career as an anesthesiologist if his dance and acting doesn’t work out. With his talent, dedication, work-ethic, and family support it only seems fitting that Vaught’s Plan B would exceed most people’s Plan A. It also seems unlikely that he will need to implement Plan B.