Raising the barre

By Ashley Bird | Features Editor
Ballerina and senior Celena Dawson is ready to take her years of dance experience in the Bay Area on to college, and perhaps a career.

Over a period of 11 years, Dawson has taken a variety of dance classes, including jazz, tap and modern dance, but her favorite and most challenging class is ballet.

“I get the most out of that class,” Dawson said. “Like in jazz, things get a little slow, but ballet is always running; it’s always pretty fast.”

Dawson dances five days a week for two hours a day. On Mondays she does modern and jazz and the other days are dedicated to ballet. Dawson said doing point work, which means she is literally dancing on the tips of her toes, is painful, so she wears soft shoes for an hour and a half and only does point for about 40 minutes.

“You can’t be in point shoes for two hours unless you want to collapse,” Dawson said. “You can get really masterful with it, but it takes time. It can get painful, but it gets better after you’ve been doing it for a couple years.”

Throughout her dance career, Dawson has participated in a number of recitals and performances; however, her most regular ones include “The Nutcracker,” the Pacific School of Dance’s original recital and a gala performance. Dawson has danced for four years now in “The Nutcracker’s” Waltz of the Flowers, which is the highest level for Pacific students.

Dawson loves all aspects of performance. When she is not on the stage dancing, she is acting. She has been a Madrala Player at Marshfield for the past four years and played Titania, the fairy queen, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last year.

Dawson sees the connection between her two passions.

“There’s a lot of acting in dance. It’s all about your face, and since you don’t speak, you have to be extra expressive. It all comes through body language,” Dawson said. “The two things aren’t really connected, but the aspects of them are.”

With dance every day after school and play rehearsal, juggling the two extracurricular activities has proven difficult for Dawson.

“They conflict a lot. My dance school always wants me there,” Dawson said.

Dawson has faced a number of challenges through her years of dance including a hip injury she believes happened during her sophomore year. She said the torn muscle prevents her from dancing as well as she could and worries it may hinder her from having a career as a professional dancer if that is what she chooses to do. Dawson knows she wants to keep dancing as long as it is possible though.

“I’m definitely going to dance in college. I know that,” Dawson said.

Dawson hopes to attend Western Oregon University for their dance and theatre programs. She thinks her time there will help her determine the next step.

“If I like the ballet scene there and I’m improving, then there’s a good chance I can go into a company for ballet,” Dawson said. “But if I don’t feel like ballet is the right thing, I’d still do ballet, but I might go into a profession more based around jazz and modern, or Broadway even, because I’m going to be acting in college, too.”

Dance is definitely something that Dawson wants to continue with even if she does not pursue it professionally.

“It’s good to have any kind of hobby that you can be good at and be able to express yourself,” Dawson said. “Maybe it’s tough sometimes, but you always know you like something if you’re doing the performance and you really love it. That’s how it is for me.”