College of Fine Arts, School of Dance

The sky is the limit for Skylar Fry, a leader for the arts.

“The day I realized what it meant to be a leader was the day I reached for the stars and woke up in outer space.”

Skylar is recalling the premiere of the PlanetScape project, being suspended by four wire cables above the stage in Crowder Hall. She served as the assistant choreographer for the interdisciplinary, immersive show. 

“For a show like no other, my first task was to budget, design, and create a hanging stage prop that would make me look like a floating space traveler. I did extensive research on aerial work, suspension props, and space travel. The storyline was about a space traveler — that’s me!! — who journeys to three different planets seeking a new home.” 

Clearly that floating space traveler is fictional; Skylar would have gone to all the planets.

Skylar Fry performing in “PlanetScape.” Photo courtesy of University of Arizona Health Sciences.

Outstanding Senior

Skylar Fry was named the Outstanding Senior for the College of Fine Arts and School of Dance at the 2024 CFA Graduation Convocation on May 12. Fry graduated with Honors in both Dance and English with a pre-law minor.

When she learned that she was named the college’s Outstanding Senior, the news lit a fire.

“No matter what you are doing or where you are, you can be a force to change the mood in a room for the better. I mostly took it to heart in terms of my character. I want to be responsible for being positive, being ready, lifting other people up. Those are probably the most important things to me, how I make other people feel when they’re around me and, and the impact that I can have as an artist, but also just as a person.” 

The sky is the limit for Skylar Fry, shown here in front of the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre.

The Future

She wants to dance professionally and also go to law school to focus on environmental policy. Or grad school for dance or maybe English. Fry can check the box on that first goal. She is moving to Pennsylvania to perform for Roxey Ballet, where she’ll dance, teach and do administrative work, like outreach to underserved populations. 

“I see myself not just as a dancer, but also as an advocate for my craft … a bridge between dance and unlikely audiences.”

But then what?

“In the future, if I could work my way from Pennsylvania to dancing in New York and then funnel right into Columbia Law School, that would be really cool.”

Critical and Creative Work

She came to the University of Arizona School of Dance as a dancer, and she also wanted to be an environmental science major. 

“I was really passionate about agriculture.”

Later during her GenEd English class, something clicked. Skylar liked the deep dive of analyzing text, like a film critique, taking it farther.

“That’s when I realized that my mind was geared towards critical work, critical and creative work … I realized that I should be an English major because I have so many different interests in writing, connecting things that can help me reach into so many different areas. 

“I really like reading everything.” She likes Toni Morrison, especially “Song of Solomon.” 

“I’m a slow meticulous reader; I like reading theory and philosophically dense things.” She’s drawn to French philosopher Michel Foucault.

The University of Arizona School of Dance Ensemble perform in “Dance Springs Eternal.” Skylar is front and center.


“That’s something that is so much harder than I ever thought it was going to be. Everyone is very different in terms of how they teach. Sometimes a choreographer will come in and they say, ‘This is a phrase of movement, kind of like a sentence of movement. This is exactly how I want it. They might have counts for you. Like 1, 2, 3, 4, and five, you know? It’s very exact. 

“Sometimes they come in with a notepad and they are like, ‘Skylar, you’re this dot; Sophia, you’re this dot; Maya, you’re this dot. This dot is going to run this way and meet up with this dot.’ We’re like paper and pen drawn on the whiteboard. Sometimes it’s very visual like that. 

“And other choreographers create on the spot. They give the dancers a concept and just to see what happens. ‘Pretend you guys are in an amusement park and suddenly like the lights go dark and the mood changes. How does that affect your movement?’ We play around and sometimes they’ll say, ‘Oh, what you did just right there, that was great. Teach that to these four people and do it traveling across stage left.’

“A lot of my friends that, especially the ones I work with a lot, are similar. We can just try things, fall over, laugh, keep what we like. It’s a very complex process.”

For her second Franke Honors College thesis, Skylar created a 100-page food-and-culture magazine.

Two Honors thesis projects

“An advisor mentioned that it was possible to do two honors thesis one day in a meeting. All of a sudden, I  was like, ‘Oh, you should not have told me that, now I got to do one in both.’”

It’s a rare feat. Only 10 students from the Honors College graduating class did two, earning the college’s da Vinci Award. These projects add to an already packed course schedule.

Skylar was inspired for her dance thesis after observing the movements of the meerkats at the Reid Park Zoo.

“The way they were running around interacting with each other and all their little quick twitch movements. I could watch it for hours. ‘There is no other choice. I have to do a dance about meerkats.’ The goal was to take something simple and kind of dorky but make it deep and meaningful.

“I researched their behavioral patterns and returned to the zoo to observe them and then created quirky, fun movement for the group piece.

Second Draft

Later the piece “Second Draft” became about the Greek goddess Athena and the qualities of being a strategist as in war. “Her power is so interesting since it’s a feminine power, coupled with the peace and the calm and the wisdom.” 

The second project was originally going to be a 20-page food and culture magazine, which ended up with 100 pages. (Skylar’s interested in breaking into the world of literary magazines. She worked on the Sonoran Review on campus.)

She called the magazine “Dirt Rocks and Shells” as a nod to an inside joke with her dad.

“I would always ask what was for dinner as a kid. He would say, ‘dirt, rocks and shells’ and I would freak out.”

She realized that her dad’s joke worked at the title.

“If you break it down, dirt is kind of like the local people who have been farming and recycling all of Tucson’s nutrients and culture for years. Rocks are like the sustenance. Shells are interesting in Tucson because we totally used to be an ocean a few billion years ago.

“I interviewed my favorite vendors at the farmer’s markets. Tucson has such an amazing culture. The vendors were happy to sit down with me and chat. ‘You can ask me anything.’”

Skylar performing in PlanetScape. Photo courtesy of the University of Arizona Health Sciences.

Time Management

“Ooh, mm, coffee … I think one thing that I have found, and it really seems to work for me is being very present in the moment. So, whenever my thoughts seem to get outside of my head and I can feel the crackle of all the stress of the billions of things, that’s when I have to really to calm it down. 

“So, I weirdly think of sensational things. I go outside to feel like the sun on my skin. 

“I really do believe in the power of my own mind. So, if I’m tired, but I know I have things to do, I let myself take a second and really drop into the moment, feel myself and my body and my brain. I’m like, ‘What do I need to do to … either take care of myself or to get something done or maybe to show up for another person. I think it’s just internal training. There are times when I get burnt out and that’s when I just have to cut myself some slack and try to rest a little bit.

Finally, how does Skylar keep track of everything?

She has a paper calendar on the wall for events, a white board for her daily schedule, a reminder app and she will text herself.

“I always have a notepad on me for random ideas, you know, little genius moments. If I get overwhelmed, I just sit and I just write out my schedule like hour-to-hour. 

“For this hour I’m at dance and all I need to focus on is dance.”

Past CFA Outstanding Seniors