Meet Kyleigh Guttman: a 13 year old 9th grade ballerina who is new to PALCS this year. Kyleigh has been practicing ballet for the past 11 years and is very dedicated to her craft, sometimes practicing over 5 hours a day. As a very ambitious young lady, Kyleigh has hopes to become a professional dancer. Continuing her education in a traditional brick-and-mortar school was not an option with her rigorous training schedule. This is why Shauna Guttman, Kyleigh’s mother, explained they needed to make the change to cyber school. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Kyleigh and her mother about the decision-making process when choosing the right school, Kyleigh’s dancing, and their goals for the future.
After 3 years, much thought, and careful consideration, Shauna and Kyleigh decided that a cyber charter school would be the best option, as Kyleigh’s dance schedule was becoming too rigorous to keep up with a brick-and-mortar school schedule. Recently accepted in to the pre-professional/pre-trainee program at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet, she now trains 27 hours in 6 days each week, and even more when she is in a performance. “It has been a battle to have her dancing so many hours a day and then keeping up with her school work, with getting the proper amount of rest,” Shauna explained. “Her day used to be waking up at 6 am, heading to school and after school heading straight to ballet and not getting home until 9:30-10:00 pm.”
When searching for the perfect school for Kyleigh, Shauna had a few main concerns. They needed a place where Kyleigh was going to get an excellent and challenging education on par with the one she was receiving at her previous private school. “She has a high IQ and I don’t want her to sit idle, but I need her to be able to fit everything into 24 hours, and something had to give. Cyber gives us the ability to have her life be a little more balanced,” said Shauna. After much research, they narrowed their choices down to three cyber schools in Pennsylvania, and Shauna made many calls to inquire about each school and the differences among them. She found that she liked that when she called PALCS, is did not go to a call center but a PALCS employee that could assist her, as well as the fact that the main building was close by. The real deciding factor was when Shauna asked her close teacher friend her opinion on which school was best. “She consulted with a co-worker who has cyber schooling knowledge and they said PALCS was the one!”
A Passion for Dance
Kyleigh has a passion for dance and hopes to become a professional dancer one day, possibly at her dream company, the Miami City Ballet, although she would be honored to dance with any company. “I hope one day a kid will walk by and see me on a poster and say, ‘I want to do that.’ I want to inspire people like so many inspire me,” she said. Her inspiration comes from any dancer who has made it through the grueling training that ballet requires and landed a job, like professional ballet dancer Misty Copeland. One of her biggest inspirations not only in dance but in life is her mother Shauna, who pushes her to be her very best and never give up. Shauna credits ballet for providing an outlet for Kyleigh’s passions, courage, and determination, and credits the School of Pennsylvania Ballet for providing her a platform for that outlet. “At 13, Ky is learning how to be her own advocate because of the path she has chosen with ballet. As a future adult female, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Shauna said.
Kyleigh’s dance resume is impressive. Previously, she danced in Allentown and danced in RDT’s The Nutcracker for 3 years, as well as with a professional company out of New York when she was 7 years old. She danced in Don Quixote and Cinderella with The Pennsylvania Ballet, and, coming up this year, Kyleigh will have danced in The Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker for 5 seasons. She currently has Snow White coming up, which is with the Second Company. Kyleigh has been cast as the deer in the performance, which performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the beginning of October, and will also have performance dates in April at the Prince Theater in Lancaster, PA. As far as Kyleigh’s favorite ballet goes, she has trouble picking just one: she enjoys the humorous and well-choreographed The Concert by Jerome Robbins, as well as classics including Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and The Nutcracker.
Kyleigh assists with studio classes and is also involved in helping out community engagement teachers at three Philadelphia Charter Schools in order to bring more dance education into underserved areas. Last year, for her 8th grade project, Kyleigh choreographed a piece with the children in the Dance Chance program. When cast in performances, Kyleigh has rehearsals anywhere from 6-10 hours a week in addition to her 27 hours spent training each week. When not dancing, Kyleigh enjoys reading, writing, singing, or anything creative. She loves being with her friends, shopping, and binge-watching her favorite TV shows. If she can fit it in to her busy schedule, she hopes to get involved with some PALCS clubs, as well. Her favorite subject in school is English, as she has a passion for writing and reading.
PALCS is so happy to have Kyleigh as a student, and Kyleigh is off to a great start here. She really enjoys her teachers and the one-on-one communication. Shauna hopes that PALCS will allow Kyleigh to have more balance in her life and contribute to a healthy life in all aspects; dance, social, and education. “I hope PALCS will build a bridge with our family, and work with us to promote a balanced, well-rounded life for Ky,” said Shauna.