"The wonderful thing about the dance program is that it’s smaller and more intimate,"
- Celadon Wood

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Two dancers practicing

Performing on the National Stage: Celadon Wood Wins National Dance Scholarship

By Steve Hanna

“I’ve always been kind of a go-getter,” Celadon Wood ’10 says, two years after she dropped out of college to pursue a professional dance career. This summer she was the recipient of one of the profession’s highest honors – the chance to study with the nation’s best for free as a 2010 American Dance Festival national scholarship winner.

A Moscow native, Wood was a student at Spectrum II, an art and dance studio in Moscow, when she began performing with Idaho’s dance program in high school. Since then, she was hooked –until she left the program after her sophomore year to try her hand in the professional world.

“I needed something new. I wanted a taste of city life,” she says.

Life in Seattle was hard, but invigorating. She spent her days teaching pre-school and her nights performing with start-up company, La Faux with choreographer Kelsey Hamon ’05.

“The world was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Before, I felt pretty sure of myself and I felt like I could do anything,” she admits.

After trying the life of a professional dancer, Wood realized she needed to finish her degree, citing her relationship with mentor and associate professor of dance Greg Halloran as one of the reasons she returned to school.

“The break helped clear my head…I was drawn back to the UI to finish out,” she says. “I felt like I owed it to Greg.”

In the fall of 2008, Wood returned to Idaho, and in her words, “got a lot out of those final two years.”

“The wonderful thing about the dance program is that it’s smaller and more intimate. I was able to take all of the advanced classes and perform in all of the shows. Good teachers are able to focus and give individual corrections,” she says.

That sort of individual focus is exactly what she received from Halloran and the other dance professors.

“As she got older, she developed a nice sense of maturity to complement her movements, and that’s what companies want. She’s an honest dancer,” says Halloran.

And that’s what led her to the American Dance Festival, the biggest modern dance festival in the U.S.

What she often doesn’t tell people is the level of skill it takes to win the scholarship through the audition process. Only a select few dancers in the country are chosen to study with the nation’s best for free.

At the 10-week festival, Wood took advantage of all the opportunities her scholarship provided and got involved. She stayed an extra two weeks to help the committee lay down new dance floors, and she found her way into every single master class, even though most students were only allowed to take one or two professional workshops.

“I’m kind of a go-getter,” she says.

The ADF, as dancers call it, is based around professional dance companies that come and teach workshops. Two companies visit each week to teach and perform for the nation’s top dance students.

“I was able to meet almost every company in person, and one of the great parts was working backstage with the companies,” Wood says. “It was humbling because there were so many good dancers.”

Never one to stop thinking big and taking risks, Wood eventually wants to have her own dance company and the way forward became clear. It was time to step out again.

So she took her next risk and moved to L.A. Without an apartment lined up. Without knowing where to live. And without any direct plans.

“I didn’t have anything lined up,” she concedes, but there’s a certain magnetism in her voice.

Sometimes you have to go for it.

“Life is not worth not taking risks,” Wood says. “That’s what I ended up doing. Things always work out.”