Dance began not just as child, but as a baby, for 15-year-old Grantsville resident Scout Sutton.
When she was just over 18 months old, while attending a basketball game with her family, Scout became enthralled with the drill team performing during breaks in the action.
“I can remember her just going so still in my lap,” Heather Sutton, Scout’s mother, said. “She was very interested in the movements of the performers, that’s when I thought I might have a little dancer on my hands.”
At the age of three, Scout was enrolled in her first ballet class after a visit to a Ballet West performance, where her passion only grew. Heather took her kids, including Scout, who was still very young, to a performance at Ballet West in Salt Lake City.
Scout never lost interest throughout the performance, and would dance in the aisles during the intermission, trying to mimic the performers.
“Scout then turned to me, pointed to the stage, and said ‘I’m going to dance [on that stage] one day,’” Heather said. “It was something that I never imagined might become a reality.”
Her love for dance then quickly became the desire to perform at the highest level.
In third grade, just after her audition for her school’s ballet performance of “The Nutcracker,” the performance was canceled due to a studio fire. Scout then begged her mother to allow her to audition for a role in Ballet West’s performance of “The Nutcracker” instead. To her surprise, Scout landed a role in the performance.
After “The Nutcracker” was completed, Scout auditioned for a chance to study at Ballet West. She attended a five-week summer intensive course with 12 other talented dancers.
“She really wanted to get in,” Heather said. “And they said they could only take three out of the 12 girls to stay on. Scout was one of their top choices at only 8 years old.”
Scout has now been with Ballet West for seven years and she hopes to be able to take her ballet to the next level soon, as she prepares for college.
“My next goal is to get a trainee spot,” Scout said. “And then to become a professional dancer.”
To achieve this goal, Scout must master all the levels of ballet first. She currently is in the final stages of the advanced/professional level.
“I only have two more advanced classes left before I can audition for a trainee role,” Scout said.
While she has a few favorites in mind, Scout is keeping an open mind in terms of which ballet academy she’d like her trainee spot with.
“I might try to stay on with Ballet West, although I would also love to be with the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle,” Scout said. “There are also places in New York City or Houston to consider.”
After gaining a trainee spot, Scout will then begin to rise through ranks of professional ballet until she becomes a lead principle dancer.
As enjoyable and rewarding as ballet is for Scout, it is not without its challenges, such as, time constraints, physical demands and injuries.
“It’s very physically demanding,” Scout said. “Sometimes it’s 11 hours a day, and you’re getting really tired, and you’re just pushing your body far. It’s also rough to get an injury and have to sit and watch.”
But to push through the struggles, Scout continues to find joy in her favorite aspects of dancing, like the jumps and leaps.
“I love the jumps,” she said. “It’s really fun to feel the air go past you as you leap across the floor, it’s freeing.”
Ballet practice takes up four to six hours six days a week, and the hours only increase during the summer or as one of Ballet West’s two annual performances draws near. Due to all the practice, Scout frequently gives up the social aspect of a typical teenager, like visiting friends and attending school and sporting events.
“She doesn’t get to go to sporting events or just relax everyday with friends,” Heather said, “She doesn’t even get to eat lunch at the high school with her friends because we have to leave at 12:30 every day to go to practice.”
Heather also reflects on the sacrifices her family chooses to make for Scout’s ballet. They drive her to and from Salt Lake City for every practice throughout the week, and they constantly face time and financial obligations ballet brings.
“It’s not always an easy course,” Heather said. “But she gives her part and it’s what you have to do when you hope to achieve your goals, and this is her goal.”
Scout has also learned many things from her time with ballet, more than just the movements themselves, she’s had to learn about dedication and discipline. Scout uses a lot of time management to balance school, homework, and practice.
“I go to school, and do homework in the car on the way to practice,” Scout said. “Then after practice, on the way home, I do more homework.”
“She’s always been a very determined and disciplined child around her ballet,” Heather added. “And whether her dreams of becoming a professional dancer becomes a reality or not, these are all skills that she can use throughout her life.”
On top of all the workload Scout already takes on, she also finds a way to help others with their dance. During Saturday practices, Ballet West holds a special class session for children with special needs and disabilities to give them an opportunity to dance just like their peers. The class age range varies from 3-15 years old, and Scout takes great joy in helping them learn and dance.
“I enjoy it so much, it’s really fun,” Scout said. “The girl I help now is always smiling and so happy to be there, it’s great to see their enthusiasm.”
Though there may be ups and downs and stressful situations surrounding Scout’s ballet career, both her and her mother agree that it’s all worth it, especially when dreams are so near to achievement.
“She loves it and has never wavered,” Heather said. “People used to try to tell me not to burn her out too young. I always said it’s all up to her, if she didn’t want this she’d stop practicing, and asking to do it. We’re just grateful we live close enough to a place as top notch in the country as Ballet West is, for her to able to practice with, and get a shot at her goals.”
Scout has just finished performing in Ballet West’s “The Little Mermaid,” and is now beginning her preparations for another summer intensive program in Seattle this summer to further her goals of being a professional.
“I hope that the least people can learn from my dancing is that regardless of what your goals are,” Scout said. “If they’re small or big dreams, hard work will always get you there.”