Moving into the spotlight
Dreams don’t come with a guarantee, and while many delightful passions are sacrificed to the tedious drills of everyday, two Battle Mountain High School graduates are determined to rise above. And they are succeeding.
Wayne Schultheis, 18, and a 2014 graduate of BMHS, and Sage Buchalter, 23, and a 2009 graduate of BMHS, show great enthusiasm for turning their one-time dreams, spawned by passion, into today’s reality.
While separated by genre, the two teeter in a precarious position known to many as “on the edge” — gaining the attention necessary to spill over into full-time performers.
With Schultheis producing and performing electronic dance music, and Buchalter acting, the two continue an often not talked about legacy of Battle Mountain High School graduates finding success in creative fields.
Take for instance Anthony Scully, a 2005 BMHS graduate who went on to found BFD Productions and co-direct the LES Film Festival in New York City.
Or Jonathan Windham, also a 2005 BMHS graduate who was named by Dance Magazine in 2013 as one of 25 dancers to watch. He has danced for The Kevin Wynn Collective, Terra Firma Dance Theatre, Ballet Boy Productions Amber Parker, Nathan Madden and numerous other prestigious companies and festivals, including the Vail International Dance Festival.
Or perhaps Alex Dolan, a 2008, BMHS graduate curating and creating contemporary art exhibits in Portland and New York City. The list goes on, but while local sporting phenomenons such as Mikaela Shiffrin command national attention, the history and future of BMHS students pursuing careers spawned from years of passion for the arts is bright.
WAYNE SCHULTHEIS ON ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC
Walking toward Old Town Square in Fort Collins, one inevitably passes by and skims the agenda of the famed Aggie Theater. With cheap drinks, overcrowded restrooms, a signature not-so-pleasant scent and a wild crowd, nationally touring bands are often sure to carve out a night at the Aggie.
Hanging on the wall, listed among performers such as Reel Big Fish, Mansions to the Moon and The Original Wailers is “DeluXe” — the stage name adopted by Vail local Wayne Schultheis.
His performance at the Aggie on Nov. 28 will be his first headliner, a massive step in making DeluXe as much a household name as, say, Pretty Lights. Already, Schultheis has released two EPs, and opened for groups such as Late Night Radio in venues like the Fox Theater in Boulder. He has also been featured on EDM.com, a mecca of sorts for electronic dance music fans.
“I would have never even thought I would be playing shows or anything,” Schultheis said. “Last year, I played my first show ever the day before Thanksgiving. Now, I have a headliner just after Thanksgiving.”
Schultheis started toying with making music as a freshman at BMHS. He would remix songs or make “mashups” — mixing two songs together. He got bored working on songs largely created by other groups, so he started to create his own music.
“I guess that is when it started to get personal for me,” he said. “I started with some really amateur programs, but I was making my own stuff.”
He put out his first EP, “Falling Into Place” almost a year ago and it resulted in nearly 50,000 plays over his account on Sound Cloud — a public music sharing website. His second EP, “Pieces Left Behind,” released four months ago was a step up, featuring samples entirely made by him.
“I wanted to join the movement of dance music,” Schultheis said. “It’s a sort of revolutionary music scene. Everything I make is my own. Apart some from vocals, I sample everything from my saxophones, trumpets, guitars.”
Schultheis puts out all of his music for free in an effort to gain more attention.
“I want to make this dream my career, and I am starting to. I am making money from it,” Schultheis said. “I want to take the next year and see where I can take it. I want to be playing the big venues like Red Rocks with big name groups.”
While the top is what he is shooting for, Schultheis is humble in his passion and success, citing the reason he really got into this was to give people the emotions only music can bring.
“The ultimate reward for me is making the music and performing,” he said. “When I am up on stage and see someone with a huge smile and dancing so hard, that is the best reward.”
SAGE BUCHALTER ON ACTING
Since graduating from BMHS in 2009, Sage Buchalter’s face might be a common occurrence in the background of your favorite shows. She has appeared in popular cable and Netflix series such as the Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Gotham and Orange is the New Black.
Her mark in television was mostly background work, until Nov. 20 when the popular Animal Planet Show “Monsters Inside Me” aired the fifth episode in the show’s fifth season featuring Buchalter as a “re-enactor.” She held the camera for 15 minutes in the nationally broadcast medical reenactment show. Buchalter played a woman plagued by a larva infection after being bitten by a mosquito in Belize.
Vail noticed as Buchalter’s Facebook page blew up with congratulations. This is what one might call a start in the complex world of film and television where finding footing is often difficult.
“It’s very exciting,” Buchalter said about stepping out of the background to command the camera.
Buchalter now lives in Harlem, New York. Originally born and raised the U.S. Virgin Islands, she became interested in performing while in elementary school at St. John’s School for the Arts. She moved to the Vail Valley her junior year of high school to live with her sister. As with anyone interested in drama at BMHS, she fell under the wing of Suzanne Foster, the long-time and since retired drama teacher at Battle Mountain High School.
“When I first got to Battle Mountain, I auditioned for Ms. Foster and did all the school plays,” Buchalter said. “ I evolved in the drama department, and I was in every show we did while I was there.”
Buchalter also sat on the speech and debate team and dove into courses offered at the school, such as creative writing and Shakespeare.
“I am thrilled to have the support group I have,” she said. “I feel blessed to even have people rooting for me. My premier was great.”
Beyond her appearance on “Monsters Inside Me,” Buchalter will appear in the show “A Crime to Remember” on Investigation Discovery on Tuesday. She will be featured as a crime victim.
As she begins to work side jobs less and perform more, Buchalter doesn’t have an end in sight. Beyond television, she has aspirations of almost every creative flavor.
“I want to do endless amounts of things,” she said. “I would love to, at some point, finalize some songs I have been writing, be in feature-length films, write a film, star in a TV series. I’ve always wanted to do voiceover work and be the voice of an animated Disney character.”
Building her resume and living in Harlem, Buchalter is allowing herself the best chance to perform and to pursue her dream.
“Singing and dancing and performing give me the sense of accomplishment and a love of life and my surroundings,” she said. “Nothing is greater than that for me.”