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The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Junior shines in the Nutcracker ballet performances

Catalina+has+always+been+inspired+by+many+different+people+in+the+ballet+world.+She+has+trouble+picking+a+single+one+because+she+believes+everyone+has+different+qualities+that+make+them+an+inspiration+to+others.
Quinn Wilkinson
Catalina has always been inspired by many different people in the ballet world. She has trouble picking a single one because she believes everyone has different qualities that make them an inspiration to others.

Moving captivatingly and delicately across the floor, Junior Gabriela Catalina dances gracefully while performing her routine. Catalina is currently practicing for her many ballet performances of The Nutcracker.

Catalina has always been a ballet dancer since a very young age. She didn’t start seriously training until she had gotten a little older when she started getting into bigger and better performances.

“I started when I was eighteen months old,” Catalina said. “Obviously, when you’re eighteen months old, you’re not seriously training. I started seriously training around the time I was in The Nutcracker, which was when I was in second grade.”

Catalina’s parents actually didn’t want her to dance when she was younger. Once her parents saw free classes in their area, they brought Catalina, and she has loved it ever since.

“My mom actually didn’t want me to be a dancer. She tells me she never wanted her kids to be dancers.” Catalina said. “They had some free dance classes, so my mom took me a couple of times, and then I ended up really loving it, and I stuck with it.

Since Catalina loved it so much, she continues to pursue ballet and dance. She believes that ballet shows many different and difficult components that make it graceful and beautiful to everyone who watches.

“It is an outlet for artistic expression, but at the same time it is very strict,” Catalina said. “There are a lot of rules that you have to follow in the technique. I do like the balance of creativity with having set standards and specifics to achieve.”

Catalina has always been inspired by many different people in the ballet world. She has trouble picking a single one because she believes everyone has different qualities that make them an inspiration to others.

“Misty Copeland is definitely up there because she just dances so gracefully every time I watch her.” Catalina said. “I honestly just admire all the dancers and coaches at my studio. One of my teachers, Ian Bethany, is really great and incredible to watch when he does his movements and turns.”

Catalina is also very academically based, and she loves how she can translate what she learns in her physics class to the laws of physics during ballet.

“It is kind of interesting because I find myself thinking about the laws of the earth and how they help you during dance.” Catalina said. “Since I really care about my grades, I love how I can incorporate some things I am learning into something I love. In some ways, it helps me study.”

Ballet is very tiring and physically demanding all of the time. Catalina describes all of the substantially difficult things that go on in ballet just to get the performance to look good and not sloppy and mediocre.

“You have to be activating all of your muscles all the time—not just your legs but also your core and upper body—to keep you balanced,” Catalina said. “You need to activate your muscles in your body so that you have the shapes that are nice to look at that you want to see on stage.”

Contrary to popular belief, ballet isn’t all a physical type of exercise. It combines physical activity and mental strength to create a compelling piece of artwork.

“It’s really good for strengthening your mind and body because it doesn’t only challenge you physically; it challenges you mentally.” Catalina said. “It definitely has difficult combinations, but it is also a struggle mentally trying to keep yourself from getting tired.”

For performances, it is even harder to keep yourself grounded and not tired. Catalina’s role in The Nutcrackers makes her be on stage for a longer period of time with shorter and fewer breaks in between sequences.

“I have a bigger role this year, so it makes it just that much more difficult,” Catalina said. “I am a party girl, and I’m on stage for the first 25 minutes of the show, and there is a lot of jumping. We have these massive dresses that are really tight in the back, so it makes it very hard to control our breathing.”

When practicing for The Nutcracker, Catalina credits her coaches for helping her and being her inspiration. One of her coaches, Ian Bethany, believes that Catalina brings a lot to the dance company and is a very valuable resource.

“She is a very gifted ballet dancer. She is always trying hard and pushing those around her.” Bethany said. “She brings enthusiasm and motivation to everyone in the show. Everyone really loves her and thinks she is a great dancer.”

Catalina describes the ins and outs of ballet auditions for major shows. She believes that it is not just based on the skills needed to get the part; it is also about the height and weight requirements for each different role.

“When we auditioned for The Nutcracker, they organized it by level of skill,” Catalina said. “The directors will show a specific part, and everyone copies it to the best of their ability. I know ability factors into it, but it’s also costumes and height requirements; not everyone fits into all the costumes.”

Many different people auditioned for many different roles in The Nutcracker. One of Catalina’s fellow dancers, Valentina Bernal, who is also a party girl, recounts how Catalina impacts her performance.

“Catalina is always striving to make everyone better and to work as hard as possible.” Bernal said. “There is never a time where she doesn’t practice and perform her hardest. She pushes me to make me a stronger ballet dancer.”

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