Skylar performs in the South Bay Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Michael Khoury
Skylar Kolby Burson exemplifies the American Dream: success through hard work, perseverance, determination and a little bit of luck.
“Well, maybe a lot of luck,” Burson says.
This Long Beach native, at just 21 years-old, broke into the ballet business a few months ago with a professional contract from the Utah Regional Ballet Company. Now, Burson has moved from his South Bay Ballet—where he had been training the last seven years—and heading to a city just south of Salt Lake City.
“My mind is blown that I’ve even obtained this first step. Seeing this new chapter in my life, it has been a milestone in my dance goals,” he says.
Burson will be joining the URBC as a Company Member, which is a step below Soloist and Principal, but he’s okay with that (“Technically I get more stage time,” he jokes).
Burson has been doing ballet for the last 11 years, but it wasn’t until he found South Bay Ballet that he found his niche. “When I joined South Bay I found that I fell in love with ballet,” he says. South Bay Ballet has been Burson’s springboard for this opportunity. “South Bay is more like a school or training grounds where you learn the basics and perfect the basics and then where I am now, my job per se, I use the foundation and techniques I learned at South Bay to help me perform.”
He’s now moved from less training to more of a rehearsal and performance schedule, similar to ones seen in reality shows such as CW’s Breaking Pointe, which follows dancers at Salt Lake City’s Ballet West.
Breaking Pointe has brought national attention to contemporary ballet in the same way shows such as Glee have increased interest in singing groups. But even though ballet is going through a media renaissance, Burson hasn’t really noticed.
“The ballet world is constantly changing, maybe not at a skyrocketing rate, but it’s definitely changing here and there,” he says. “Some years there will be a lot of people in class, sometimes there will be a lot of people in productions, other years it’s smaller. I’d hope to see an increase in people because of the media. If the benefits of putting dance in the media are that we get more in class, that’s a plus.”
With his move to Utah, Burson has definitely had to acclimate to the new environment and a new rigorous schedule which—for six days a week—includes an hour and a half of morning warm ups followed by three to four hours of rehearsal. Sometimes, there are also night rehearsals and Burson doesn’t get home until 9PM.
Even though he has a brutal schedule, Burson has been able to make connections outside of the studio.
“I have 3 roommates and they are not dancers, I didn’t even know them when I moved out here. It’s weird when you aren’t going to the ballet studio, but on the other side you do want to mingle and introduce yourself to the non-dancing people.”
Even though he’s a little apprehensive about Utah winters, “I’m excited to start anew,” he says.