Question & Answer with Three IAA Graduating Seniors
Three Idyllwild Arts seniors from three different majors took time to respond to a few questions about their experience here at Idyllwild. They are:
Each of these students has had an incredibly productive time at Idyllwld Arts Academy having served as student leaders, good academic students and emerged as serious artists in their own right. Their responses provide insight into each of their experiences and how Idyllwild Arts has affected their growth as artists, individuals and set them up for their future college/conservatory education.
1. Tell me about your experience at IAA? How has it affected you as an artist, dancer, performer or musician?
Lani: Yes, my experience at Idyllwild Arts Academy has affected me as a dancer. I’ve discovered a pathway to a future that I would not have imagined in another environment, such as public schooling. My biggest issue while attending Public school and dancing at a small studio was to find the balance between the two. I could not simply be with friends from school because my routine would be to finish homework and attend afternoon dance classes right when school was let out. Here, I have made extremely close friends, who are interested and passionate about art, like me. The teachers are also very compelling and motivating. With this type of support I am still driven to make dancing a career. My passion and desire for this to happen has only increased in the time I have been here. In public school it seemed like a distant dream, here at IAA a possible reality.
Xiao Fan: This was my first time studying at a boarding school and it took me a period of adjustment to get used to living with my friends and faculty. Today I feel pretty close to school. Before, I went to school from 8-12 in the morning. Here I found myself living at school and that made a huge difference as I could go and talk to the faculty when I had questions or needed additional help. I also developed friendships with classmates & friends. I know everyone on campus. I was open to meeting new students and a new culture. Early on I accepted the opportunity presented by a boarding school and learned to accept everyone for who they are.
As a musician I’ve played in the orchestra and chamber music that has helped build my community and has been beneficial. In the past, I used to play as a soloist and since coming I’ve mellowed and enjoy working with other students. I’ve changed as a person too. Before coming here I was arrogant and after coming here I feel that I’m part of the community. I try to learn from those around me.
Vita: I came to IAA as a freshman in the Visual Art program four years ago. This school contains really different elements and resources that a public school or normal private school lacked. Throughout these four years of studying in IAA, I have realized that the school really has made art more accessible to students. Teachers are willing to extend a student’s potential as an artist and are never reluctant to answer students’ questions. Moreover, the flexibility teachers perform and the diverse assignment teachers composed has always, or constantly, expanded my imagination to a higher level, which I really appreciated.
2. What’s been the most critical lesson that you’ve learned as a student? Is it something in the academics or the arts?
Lani: Being a student here is an experience in itself, to be surrounded by other students with the same or more of a drive and passion. Every student here is unique; they have their own story to tell and background that they come from. What we all have in common is maturity. I am learning how to live on my own as a surviving artist. But, this school has taught me that I am not alone. I’ve got Allison Leggett and Gerard Minaya, also devoted dance majors. We help each other in tougher times and celebrate in worthy times. They are family to me. The Idyllwild Arts community is a family, but with smaller and tightly knit families within. I’ve learned this family and community of artists fuels and sustains my dreams.
Xiao Fan: I’ve learned a lot about time management. At boarding school you have to learn how to use your time efficiently and how to be independent. There are no parents to make you do your homework. You have to learn to take responsibility for yourself. Doing the college process in particular made me more successful since I had to do it on my own.
Vita: Learning to be humble and communicative is the most critical lesson I got after four years at IAA. At first I always had an ego about how outstanding my skills were in art. Therefore there was always conflict between some art teachers and myself when the teachers would disagree with my way of producing works. After repeatedly correcting and redressing my arrogance through teachers’ advice, I find things became easier to process and a new perspective was revealed through that communication.
3. Where have you been accepted and where are you planning to attend college/university/conservatory or art school? How did Idyllwild Arts education prepare you for the college audition/application process?
Lani: I will be attending Dominican University of California. I am joining their Dance BFA program in collaboration with Alonzo King’s Ballet Company, in San Francisco. Jonathan Sharp suggested the school to me last year. I auditioned for the summer program and attend for four weeks. It was a completely new experience to me and my dance history. So I danced to my potential and was invited to the BFA program. This is my next path I choose and that Idyllwild Arts has helped me find. I was accepted into LMU, CSLB, Adelphi, Goucher, and Fordham (on the wait list). IAA has supported my planning and independence skills; college application was an extenuation of this. I always knew there was someone to coach me when needed.
Xiao Fan: I’ve been accepted to New England Conservatory (NEC), Cleveland, Manhattan, Boston Conservatory, and San Francisco Conservatory. I’m going to attend NEC next year. As a string player they have the best string program in the nation and I like the student to teacher ratio. I’ll be studying with Masuko Ushioda who is a very accomplished musician. I have to credit the ESL program which really helped me with my TOEFL score and the work that Todor Pelev, my violin teacher gave me was very instrumental in my gaining a position at NEC. Playing in the orchestra also gave me a lot of inspiration. I’ve played with many wonderful violinists here and they’ve all served as inspiration to me.
Vita: I have honorably been accepted by RPI, MICA, SVA, Pratt Institute, and the Cooper Union. I will be attending the Cooper Union as an architecture undergraduate. During the time when I was arranging my portfolio my art teachers have given me plenty of advice and methods in order to make my work become more effective and distinguished. They also set up several reviews to “push” students to speak up and help students integrate their ideas in preparation of facing real college interviewers.