Draper dancer leaps onto national magazine cover
DanceSpirit • Megan Skalla wins contest as cover model for national dance publication.
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It isn't everyone who gets a magazine in the mail and sees her own face staring back at her. Megan Skalla, 16, knew it was coming. But, still, it was "kind of weird" when she saw herself on the cover of the July-August edition of the nationally circulated DanceSpirit magazine.

"It didn't seem real that that was me," she said. "It was sort of strange."

The 16-year-old Draper girl won a national contest to become the cover model. She submitted a video of herself dancing, and the magazine's editors chose her as one of three finalists. Then it was up to readers, who voted more than 10,000 times, and in the process selected Megan as the winner.

She got support from unexpected quarters, such as from Jacob Karr, the runner-up on Season 6 of "So You Think You Can Dance," who urged his Facebook friends to vote for her. "I was, like, 'Jacob Karr knows who I am?' " she said with a laugh.

The editors of DanceSpirit were impressed with Megan when she and the other two finalists went to New York for a photo shoot in April.

"She has star quality for sure," said Alison Feller, the magazine's editor in chief. "She has that look about her."

And when Megan competed at the New York City Dance Alliance Nationals this summer — she finished first runner-up for the Teen Outstanding Dancer award — "there were 112 kids performing onstage, and we couldn't take our eyes off her," Feller said.

Megan began taking dance lessons when she was 3. "It depends on the week, but I train about 25 to 30 hours," she said. "It's always work, but it's always fun. I don't know what I would do without dance."

She's hoping to make a career as a professional dancer, and she's hoping the magazine cover will help make that happen. "I think that it will just reach out to a bigger audience," Megan said. "Get me more exposure to more people. And that really helps with competitions and auditions. Then they're, like, 'That's the girl that was on the cover of the magazine. I'll watch her.' "

Feller and the DanceSpirt staff are also hoping the cover will boost Megan's chances.

"I think that she's going to have an incredible dance career regardless of the magazine," Feller said. "Because she has the talent and she has the drive and she has the passion to make it happen. She has that magnetism that makes people want to watch her and they want her to succeed. We're really excited for Megan. We think she's a great kid."

spierce@sltrib.com