The Director of Career & College Guidance interviewed California Clark, who is featured in IBA's Student Spotlight for January, 2017. "Cali" was named IBA's Super Scholar for her achievements in academics, dance, and extracurricular activities.
IBA: Congratulations, Cali, on being featured in IBA's Student Spotlight for January. How long have you been dancing, and how long have you been at IBA?
CC: I have been dancing since I was three years old, but I started at IBA, I believe, seven years ago.
IBA: You were selected as IBA’s Super Scholar based on your numerous academic and extracurricular activities. How do you train and dance full-time as an IB Senior Company member and keep up your grades and activities?
CC: It’s not very easy, but I have learned over the years to manage my time well. Procrastinating is not an option anymore because of my schedule, though I have found myself losing sleep occasionally if my obligations require it from me. I am busy, but I enjoy it.
IBA: You were recently awarded a $64,000 4-year annual scholarship to Wesleyan University. What were your thoughts when you found out?
CC: I was actually on my way to the studio when I found out about it. I was ecstatic about the opportunity and overjoyed to be surrounded by my dance family. I was also incredibly grateful for this wonderful blessing, as well as the fact that my family now has no financial responsibility for my education. It is amazing to have that burden lifted of their shoulders.
IBA: Tell us a little about your scholarship and the university.
CC: Wesleyan is in Middletown, Connecticut about three hours away from New York City. They are what some would call a “Little Ivy,” and they are a liberal arts university. Their alumni include Thomas Kail, Joss Whedon, D.B. Weiss, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. I received my scholarship through a program called QuestBridge National College Match, and it is guaranteed for all four years as long as I maintain a high GPA and academic integrity. This scholarship covers virtually all expenses for my undergraduate education.
IBA: What do you intend to study, and what do you see yourself doing upon graduation from the university?
CC: I intend to major in business, and I might consider international business. I intend to pursue the business side of the performing arts, and I hope to move to New York City after graduation.
IBA: Now, let’s talk about dance. There are other ballet studios in the area. Why did you choose IBA?
CC: I chose IBA because of the teachers and the positive environment. Our teachers are not only phenomenal dancers, teachers, and choreographers; but they are also wonderful, honest people. Also, the studio is a place of encouragement and constructive criticism. IBA not only produces good dancers, they produce good people, and that is why I chose IBA.
IBA: What have been your best moments as a dancer?
CC: My best moments have been on stage. The stage is what we work so hard for after all. Performances are my moments to present what I have worked on for months in preparation, so they are important, but they are also very fun.
IBA: What is your favorite ballet, and, if you could, what role would you dance in it?
CC: I would have to say it is Le Corsaire, and I would want to dance as Medora.
IBA: Just for fun, complete this sentence. "Ballet would be better without _____________."
CC: Soreness. Being sore is one of the worst feelings in the world.
IBA: Who are the biggest influences in your life?
CC: I would have to say my mother and my grandmother. They are two incredible women who have raised my sister and me to the best of their ability. They have always tried their best to help my sister and me be the best people we can be.
IBA: What advice do you have for younger ballet students?
CC: My advice to the younger students is not to get discouraged. Dancing, especially ballet, is not easy, and not every class or audition will go as well as you would like it to go. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. It means you should do your best to improve and try again. You should always do your best because your best gets better every time.
IBA: Finally, Cali, what has your training at IBA done for you? What have you gained?
CC: I have gained experience and the ability to take criticism for improvement. IBA is a place of learning, and I have learned that if I don’t try hard, I will not improve, and I believe that this idea has become part of I am. Even if I am not dancing, that idea will still hold true, and that I believe will help me achieve whatever goal I have my eyes on.
IBA: Thank you, Cali. Again, congratulations and best of luck to you. We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you.