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Scholarship Funds


The Michael Peters Scholarship Fund

Michael Peters was born in Brooklyn, and performed with modern-dance choreographers and company directors in the 1960's and 70's, among them Talley Beatty, Alvin Ailey, Bernice Johnson and Fred Benjamin. He also created dances for the concert stage before his first major breakthrough in theater in 1979 in the Broadway musical "Comin' Uptown," an all-black version of Dickens's "Christmas Carol," which starred Gregory Hines. He directed his first Broadway musical, "Leader of the Pack," in 1985.

Michael shared a Tony with Michael Bennett for their choreography for "Dreamgirls," the 1981 Broadway musical based on the story of the Supremes, and won two Emmy Awards, for choreographing "Liberty Weekend Closing Ceremonies" and "The Jacksons: An American Dream."

He was also among the first to establish a name for the choreography of music videos, in the process helping to raise their production values and claims to being serious works of popular culture. His work with Michael Jackson on the "Beat It" and "Thriller" videos, in which Mr. Peters also danced, was a sophisticated blend of musical theater and pop values. He was also vocal in pressing publicly for more acknowledgement of choreographers in film and began a campaign to push for an Oscar for choreography.

Dedicated to the memory of this great and innovative choreographer, The Michael Peters Scholarship focuses on assisting dancers, especially at risk young men or women, in The Upper Division Program, who haven’t the necessary funds or resources to pursue their artistic studies.


The Jessica Rawles Scholarship Fund

The daughter of celebrated dancers Dennon and Sayhber Rawles, Jessica began her training here at The Performing Arts Center when she was 8 years old. She became a beautiful dancer equally proficient in ballet, jazz and tap. Jessica attended summer programs with such prestigious ballet schools as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet Workshop in San Antonio, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, in which she was offered a scholarship. She was twice recognized as a semi-finalist in the Music Center's Annual Spotlight Awards Competition in 1996 and 1999.

While actively pursuing her Masters degree in dance as well as her own professional career, Jessica was taken unexpectedly by complications from Marfan Syndrome. She was just 28 years old and serving as our Ballet Mistress at the time.

This scholarship was created to honor our dear colleague, friend and teacher. We will never forget her gifts, which were many, that she so generously shared. This scholarship can be awarded to any dancer in The Upper Division Program needing financial support in order to pursue their dreams of performing.


The Sallie Whalen Scholarship Fund

This Scholarship Award is named for and honors the teaching legacy of one of our wonderful mentors, Sallie Whalen.

Sallie began her career debuting on-stage with the prestigious San Francisco Ballet at the tender age of 15 years old. She went on to perform for many years as a soloist with this prominent company. After her time with the ballet came to a close, she went on to dance in many of the Hollywood musicals of the 50’s and 60’s and was among the first dancers performing on the new media sensation of the time….. television.

Sallie went on to establish her own school, Los Angeles Dance Center in the 1970’s and eventually wound up back teaching with us in 2005. She has mentored and taught innumerous dancers through her illustrious career and taught almost everyday until just before her death.

This one time Scholarship Award serves any dancer in any of The Performing Art Center’s Programs