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SH ballerina to dance senior performance

 

March 6, 2019

REBECCA JONES performs "Carnival of the Animals," in preparation for her senior performance.

Nearly a lifetime of training will be on display Friday night, March 8, when Sweet Home's Rebecca Jones takes the stage at Oregon State University with the Willamette Apprentice Ballet troupe.

Jones, 18, has been studying ballet since she was 3. Friday will be her "graduating senior" performance in a program that will include "Carnival of the Animals" and other selections.

Melanie Jones, Rebecca's mother, said she started her daughter in dance classes in Lebanon "because I figured she needed something to do." Her own sister had been a dancer, but Melanie Jones herself hadn't had any experience in dance.

"I was more music," said Jones, who has performed as a violinist with the Willamette Valley Symphony Orchestra and teaches piano and violin in town. "We just started it for fun."

Things progressed, they said.

"I have no idea how I got interested," Rebecca Jones said, but she did. "I was in a combo class and I liked ballet more than tap, so my mom found a studio in Corvallis. I just sort of did it because it was something I did."

By the time she got to junior high, though, she was starting to get interested in pursuing ballet more seriously, she said.

"I started thinking more about what I wanted to do, focusing on ballet."

She's progressed through the six levels of instruction at the Corvallis Academy of Ballet, moving from the basics on up to the more difficult skills and positions, such as the pointe, and developing her own interpretations. She joined the Willamette Apprentice Ballet performance group after she reached the sixth level, she said.

Jones said she enjoys the art, which is why she's continued.

"I like the movement of ballet," she said. "I'm always at my happiest when I'm doing it. It's the part of my day I look forward to most."

She said it's rewarding to "work hard" on skills until she masters them.

Typically, she spends 18 or more hours a week, "depending on rehearsals," throughout the year.

A practice session, which generally lasts about 2½ hours, includes rehearsing technique and "always" an hour or two of rehearsals for performances.

"We spend about half our time at the bar and the other half in the center, doing bigger movements. We learn solos for the fun of it, and we practice partnering technique."

"I don't have much free time," though she added that she is involved at Sweet Home High School as editor of the yearbook this year. She said she also likes "exploring new places and stuff – I like the city and the country."

Her Corvallis ballet studio puts on shows at Christmas, during the spring and a school recital, she said.

She said her favorite performance has been one during her freshman year when her troupe did a rendition of Matthew Averill's "Opus Blanc et Bleu."

"Our costumes were white and blue," she noted.

Jones said she particularly enjoys the slower movements, "adagio," and "bigger moves across the floor – big jumps, leaps and things."

"I'd say my strength is adagios – lots of high legs, strength holding and stuff. I really enjoy that. I'm better at doing slow dances. Generally, teachers cast me in those parts."

In the upcoming performance she will perform two solos, as well as in a number of other pieces. The program includes a character dance from "Suite for Ballet Raymonda" and what Jones describes as "a really long, hard modern dance piece," along with smaller classics from various ballets.

When she graduates this June from SHHS, she plans to move on to Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., which offers a program in classical ballet – her favorite.

"A lot of programs focus on contemporary and modern, as well as classical ballet. These people really focus on it, which I like."

Rebecca Jones

After that she hopes to be able to dance professionally.

"There are companies all over the place," Jones said. "I'm kind of thinking wherever they'll take me. Throughout college I'll audition in various places and see where I fit in."

Melanie Jones said there was no plan when her daughter started taking ballet.

"As she got more and more involved, I just kind of let her take the lead, as long as she put in the work," she said. "We were able to do the commute and stuff."

Her own background in music helped her understand the situation, she added.

"That's why we were willing to support her. It's a tough field, but we decided that as long as she wanted to go for it, go for it."

 
 

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