This past spring Fox 4 News profiled a tremendous ballet dancer as our Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achiever of the Week. At about the same time we learned of another fabulous area dancer and put him on our radar screen for the future. We're glad we did because very big things are happening for De'Anthony Vaughan.
As he rolls and stretches and contorts his body to a powerful musical beat at the dance studio of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, De'Anthony Vaughan is certain he was born for this.
"I just love to dance," says De'Anthony. "Doing this, waking up and knowing all you want to do is dance is something I really love to do. I eat, sleep, think about dance all day long."
Indeed, this recent graduate of Frontier Charter High School has been dancing since he was three, drawn to it by his grandmother, who ran a performing arts school.
"She put me in dance classes," says De'Anthony, laughing. "I had no choice because she was a dancer."
At first all he wanted to do was Tap, didn't really like any other styles. But then the teaching staff at Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey got a hold of him.
"I watched him and knew he was an exceptional talent," says Tyrone Aiken, Executive Director of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and one of De'Anthony's primary instructors. "I just think there is something quite unique about him."
Aiken and his colleagues got De'Anthony excited about Ballet and Modern and other dance forms and sent him to Kansas City Ballet School for awhile. De'Anthony was hooked -- and he soared.
"I just really know it's something I really want to do and to be a professional dancer means everything to me," says De'Anthony.
Although a bit reserved when not on stage, De'Anthony is bold and creative and fearless as a performer.
"You really want to captivate the audience so you can really bring them into your dance," says De'Anthony. "You have to have emotion. You want to draw the audience to you. That makes you a good performer."
He's long and lean with phenomenal reach, flexibility and expression -- not at all afraid to dance big. But his biggest strengths, say his mentors, are his intelligence and work ethic.
"He's very committed," says Aiken, "one of those dancers who will think about what they are doing and go home and rehearse.
But in addition, very smart in the studio. I've watched De'Anthony learn a step, pick up a step and he picks it up very quickly and he holds onto it."
This summer, De'Anthony scored a major opportunity and honor for a young dancer with outstanding talent and enormous potential. He was picked from thousands of applicants to study in the Summer Intensive Program at The Ailey School in New York City.
"The Ailey School is one of the top training centers for dance in the United States," says Aiken.
De'Anthony impressed them so much at The Ailey School in that month that it invited him back to study full-time -- on full scholarship -- as a student in its professional program.
"He's extraordinary," says Aiken. "He has great potential."
And even back from when he was a little kid, he reminds me of this dancer, just left the company, name is Clifton Brown. And I said to De'Anthony, 'You could be Clifton.'" So now De'Anthony is taking the big leap to the big time -- New York City -- the core of America's dance world -- perhaps one day to become the next star of the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
"It's like a dream," says De'Anthony. "I never would have thought. I was a tap dancer. I wasn't ever thinking about this. To got to The Ailey School. It's like a dream right now. I'm really happy. I never knew I was going to come this far. Hard works pays off."
De'Anthony left for New York City and The Ailey School Tuesday. He starts classes next week. Meantime, there's another fabulous dancer in the Vaughan family. De'Anthony's younger sister, Dominique, a junior at Frontier Charter School, did Ailey Summer Intensive last year and fully intends to follow her big brother to full-time student status there in two years.
Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Phil Witt, Fox 4 News firstname.lastname@example.org