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Chasing a dream to dance

RHS seniors Kyle Weiler and Michaela Kaye will attend prestigious dance schools next fall.

For Kyle Weiler and Michaela Kaye, getting into the college of their dreams wasn't about essays and applications. It was about them and a stage and a lot of hard work. And maybe just a little luck.

There was a fair amount of rejection mixed in there as well, but in the end it appears the work paid off. Weiler will be one of just 13 freshman males next fall in the dance program at The Juilliard School. Kaye will be one of 14 female freshmen in the dance program at The Boston Conservatory.

For the two fixtures of Rosemount High School's dance program, the process of getting into college was just getting under way around the same time most students were finding out whether they had been accepted. For two months, Kaye spent every weekend in either New York or Chicago attending auditions. Weiler took a week off of school to get everything done at one time. They worked through a series of auditions that, depending on how they did, were over in a few minutes or stretched on for seven hours or more.

It was often exhausting, sometimes rewarding and occasionally surprising.

Before last winter, Weiler never thought seriously about Juilliard. His dream was to study musical theater at The Boston Conservatory. He signed up for the Juilliard audition because it was early in the week. He figured he'd try out, get cut quickly and move on to other things.

"The idea was I was just going to the Juilliard audition for a warmup," he said. "I thought I'd get kicked out in the first five minutes."

When he didn't, he found himself reevaluating his plans.

The success Weiler and Kaye have had is remarkable not just because of the odds against any applicant to the two schools, but because of where they come from. Kaye said she was the only student at the Boston Conservatory auditions who didn't come from a performing arts high school, and Weiler said most of the students at his auditions came from prestigious arts schools.

Weiler himself thought he wanted to attend an arts high school before he came to RHS, but now he can't imagine having gone to school anywhere else. He and Kaye have both taken advantage of the opportunities available to them at the school. Friends since elementary school, they tried out together for the RHS Modern Dance Company, a group of advanced dance students at the school. Weiler has been a regular in the school's theater productions.

Both give a lot of credit to RHS dance teacher Christina Morris, who spent hours outside of school working with them on the solos they used in their auditions. She also got on video-calling service Skype to talk with both students while they were in between auditions - to help them go over how they could improve or help them warm up.

Morris convinced RHS administrators to let her keep a cell phone with her in class so she could keep up with her students' progress.

Morris was good at giving Kaye and Weiler the feedback they needed.

"She's not going to sugarcoat things," Kaye said. "She's going to push us."

Neither Kaye nor Weiler had a back-up plan if their auditions hadn't worked out. They didn't apply to any traditional schools. They just figured if none of their auditions worked out they would take a year off, study some more and try again next year. That's the way things work with dreams, they said. Neither can imagine doing anything else. Kaye continued dancing after having hip surgery her sophomore year. Weiler said he's been dancing since before he could walk.

"It's so hard to describe something I was born with," Weiler said. "I think I never questioned it. Neither did my parents."

There has been a lot of hard work to get to this point, and there is more work ahead. But both are excited to see what is coming.

"It's worth it in the end," Kaye said. "I can't wait to be a new student."