Co-Founder of Veracity Dance Project
Story and Interview by Teresa Nguyen
"I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’. He (Callie's nephew, Isaac) is my reason for being here and giving back to the community I grew up in.” ~ Callie Schouten
Callie’s dance and theater experience ranges from Broadway national tours, regional theater, cruise lines, theme parks, television, and the Las Vegas Strip.
Callie grew up in Janesville on seven acres of land out on Afton Road. She took local dance and vocal lessons, eventually performing in various musicals. At Parker High School, she also participated in cheerleading and poms.
As a child, Callie practically lived at the dance studio, sometimes practicing five hours a night, five days a week with private lessons on Saturdays and dance company rehearsals on Sundays. Callie says she felt “at home” in the dance studio. Her mother would take her to Rockford, Madison, Chicago or Milwaukee for classes every week. If there was an opportunity for Callie to perform, her mom would get her there.
She studied at UW Whitewater in the theater and dance program and found a professional mentor at the Janesville Armory, who guided Callie through her early career. She even booked Callie’s ticket to attend her very first New York City audition for the National (North and South America) Broadway Tour of “Cats”. She got the spot!
Callie moved out to New York City where she worked in every aspect of the industry from national tours to regional theater, dinner theaters, theme parks, cruise lines and even television.
She began guest teaching and choreographing all over the country, working with show choirs, judging dance competitions and casting for major production companies.
Some local dance students began reaching out to Callie via Facebook. She started mentoring this younger generation of Janesville students online when her husband, Jeroen, suggested she hold a workshop in Janesville.
In 2012, Callie returned to host a theater workshop at the Janesville Performing Arts Center. Around this time, from Las Vegas, Callie was encouraging her friend, Megan Lane, to pursue her dream of owning her own studio.
Meanwhile, her nephew in Janesville became sick with stage IV neuroblastoma at two years old, so Callie and Jeroen came home to support the family. Once they had decided to take the leap, Megan came to Callie asking, “Are we doing this???”
Veracity Dance Project was born! Veracity means “truth”. They wanted to offer the youth of Janesville the training they had wish for growing up. After traveling the world and truly living the “starving artist” lifestyle, Callie felt like she had so much to pass on. It wasn’t all easy or without cost, but that was a challenge they were willing to tackle.
The VDP studio opened for lessons in July of 2017. The studio is located at 2510 Mineral Point Avenue, Suite #102. This year marks their fifth season!
Callie and Megan have grown a program that has become revered in the region. They are back-to-back National Champions and have sent dancers, actors, and singers off to renowned universities to continue their education in their craft. This was exactly the dream!
From a kid who came from nothing, Callie wanted her students to know that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. Your dreams are possible!
Unfortunately, Callie’s nephew Isaac passed away in June of 2020 at six years old. She reflects, “As hard as it is, I credit a lot of VDP to him. It never would have manifested had it not been for the courageous battle of this tiny, amazing, little boy. I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’. He is my reason for being here and giving back to the community I grew up in.”
The 2020 quarantine period birthed the “Acting for the Singer” class at VDP to give the theater students an outlet. The program was a big success!
Callie is still a sought-after competition judge. She is an award-winning choreographer and continues to choreograph for studios and dance programs across the country.
She is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) with a passion for teaching technique from the ground up to create strong, confident performers of all ages.
Callie says,” The opportunities available to youth and adults in the arts now are phenomenal! I think it’s absolutely wonderful.”
This young, ambitious Janesville woman reached for the stars, found them, and brought their light home.
Callie, currently the Competition Director at Veracity Dance Project, shares these words of encouragement, “Everyone’s dreams are possible with hard work and a fierce spirit for dreaming!”
How lucky is Janesville to have Callie Schouten back home, making us proud.
VDP co-founders, Megan Lane (center) and Callie Schouten (second from right) and some of their dance instructors with their 2019 Studio of Excellence award.
Learn more about Veracity Dance Project by following them on Facebook