Friday, December 23, 2005

Dreams of Broadway loom large

Express Staff Writer

Rika Pére

An aspiring actor, singer and dancer, Hailey resident Rika Pére, 14, has been practicing her skills and entertaining Wood River Valley's audiences since she was a little, wild red-haired girl. She wowed crowds in "Annie," "Sound of Music," "Main Street Cabaret" and other plays, and has annually lit up the stage while dancing with Footlight Dance Centre.

Last spring, with encouragement from her teachers, she applied to study at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program in California, in its song-and-dance programs. The summer program is part of the highly regarded Idyllwild Arts Academy, a four-year high school with more than 250 students from around the country.

Rika, who dreams of performing on Broadway, was accepted into two different programs. Upon learning that she was short of funding, Rika turned to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' scholarship program for assistance. The five-year-old program is aimed at students seeking a challenge in the arts, but need to look outside their usual curriculum or beyond the valley to further their studies. The pursuit of these studies often remains beyond the financial reach of families and teachers, which is where the scholarship program steps in. Resources for these scholarships come from a special lot at the annual Sun Valley Center for the Arts Wine Auction.

Impressed with Rika's application, her recommendations and her desire to be a part of the Idyllwild summer program, the scholarship committee awarded her $3,000 to attend the two sessions.

"I had no idea that they were still seeking a few students for the upcoming year until the head of the acting department told me that I had no choice, I was going to audition," she said. Her audition was a success, she was subsequently accepted to the school for her freshman year, and became one of 36 students awarded a scholarship.

In the first semester of her school year at Idyllwild, Rika has been in two productions. "I never would have had this opportunity without the Center's help," she said.

"Fostering talent and encouraging young artists is a key mission of ours," said the Center's executive director, Sam Gappmayer. "The scholarship program enables us to have a direct impact on the lives of aspiring students, and we are very grateful to those who support the program through their contributions at the Wine Auction."

The Center will be evaluating scholarship applications from high school students, college students and Blaine County teachers this spring. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2006, and applications will be available online in January.

For additional information, contact Britt Udesen, director of education and humanities, at (208) 726-9491, ext.19.

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