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Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship

14-year old Morro Bay High School Freshman A’lia Martin, whose “ultimate goal is to be a professional ballet dancer with a dance company,” came one step closer to that goal when she was awarded the 2016 Jennifer Thoma Ballet Scholarship.

A’lia, who has been dancing since she was four years old, used the $2,500 award to help pay for a 6-week summer intensive with the Houston Ballet. Ultimately, she hopes her training will lead to a career in dance.

A’lia pursues her passion for dance locally, joining the Dance Fusion Company at her school and SLO Movement Arts Center last fall after her family relocated to SLO from Iowa. She rehearses roughly 10 hours a week, including three evenings at SLO Movement, maintaining a busy dance schedule in her new hometown.

She is already a veteran of three summer intensives, in Chicago, Newton, MA, and Holland, MI.  A’lia said she dances because it’s both technically challenging and artistically beautiful.  “Dance is an escape from the stress of life,” she said. “It’s a place where you can focus on yourself and your movement.”

Competitors for the scholarship were required to submit an arts resume, an essay, school transcripts, a letter of recommendation and an audition video. Judges for the competition included Bill Thoma, Jessica Thoma, artist Deb Spatafore, Jennifer Thoma’ longtime friend and Cal Poly colleague, Shelly Prichard Landers, and dance instructor Wes Kruckow. The Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship is administered by The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County who was instrumental in helping establish award criteria as well as manage outreach to potential applicants.

Bill Thoma spoke of his family’s interest in establishing the annual scholarship as a means of keeping Jennifer’s passion for the art of ballet alive. “My wife devoted herself to dance in so many ways,” said Bill. “She attended hundreds of performances, served on dance organization boards of directors, drove our daughter to rehearsals, accompanied her to special training programs, sewed costumes, raised funds and in her spare time, did a little dancing herself. She had such a passion for dance and particularly, ballet. She would be so proud that her dream became reality and honored such deserving young [dancers.]” Thoma added that a number of memorial gifts in his wife’s name helped add to the scholarship funds.

The Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship is one of forty scholarships awarded last year to local students through The Community Foundation's scholarship program funds. 

To access the scholarship application, click here. Application deadline is January 16, 2017.

For more information about the Jennifer Thoma Memorial Ballet Scholarship or other scholarship funds at The Community Foundation, please contact Angela Hollander, Scholarship Program Associate.

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