Family Seeking Community Support to Send Daughter to Elite Dance School
Years of hard work and help from many generous teachers have resulted in Evelyn Mills’s acceptance to the High School Ballet Concentration at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), where she hopes to enter into her junior year of high school from 2023 to 2024. UNCSA is a state school in Winston-Salem, NC, and in order to help make their daughter’s ballet dreams come true, the family is faced with paying out-of-state tuition as well as housing costs. They are fully committed to Evelyn’s education and training and invite anyone who is interested in her story to help. Evelyn’s mother and father (Dena Anderson and Eric Mills) have created a GoFundMe page with more information and information about how to help.
At the age of four and inspired by ballerinas in television shows and movies, Mills started taking dance classes at Santa Barbara Festival Ballet, where she found her passion for ballet. Now at age 16, Mills has been accepted into UNCSA, a competitive program where she will be able to dance alongside high school peers as well as college-level dancers looking for professional careers.
UNCSA has a studio intense environment along with a well-rounded academic program, which is a priority for both Mills and her family.
Although ballet comes with a lot of pressure to perform well, Mills enjoys being in charge of her own body and initiating her actions while dancing. “If you want to improve, if you want to get better, that’s on you,” she said. “It really comes out of the internal drive of wanting to grow, perform well, and express yourself.”
Once connecting with yourself, your teachers, and environment, it makes dancing much more of a fulfilling experience. Although the process is difficult as the dancers have to go through rigorous hours of training and face challenges, working towards a goal and accomplishing it is rewarding — it teaches you more about who you are as a person and an artist.
Being both a student and a dancer, Mills has full days where she doesn’t stop. Going to school in the day and ballet in the evening, Mills keeps in mind the things that she’s passionate about and why she’s pushing and challenging herself. “I’m the most passionate about ballet,” said Mills, “but it’s also not a struggle for me to want to go to school because there are things that I find really interesting.”
Mills was amazed and excited when she got accepted into UNCSA, her hard work and drive for dance was recognized. “I was really honored that they thought that my dancing could fit into their school and that they want the chance to teach me at their school,” she said. “It was a really validating experience.”
Mills is looking forward to the intense studio environment that UNCSA offers, and is excited to be with ballerinas that share the passion and understanding of working hard. Although she is nervous about fitting in and missing her family, she is ready to start dancing.
It’s going to be a new step for Mills to live without her family and not be able to see her friends for the majority of the year. She has many amazing friends that she’s going to miss while she’s away in North Carolina, but hopes to stay in touch with all of them.
As far as her career, Mills hopes to have dancing be her career path. Although she’s not quite sure on how she’s going to pursue it, after high school she would love to continue her ballet training in a trainee program with a company or a program. College is also another option for Mills, but, being only a sophomore in high school, she has time to decide what she wants to do.
The orientation for the UNCSA program starts on August 10, with Mills leaving a couple days before.