Making her debut as a dancer as the Mouse Queen in “The Nutcracker,” senior Isabella Wenneberg has come a long way, now performing and choreographing in the 2018 Fall Dance show. As a lifelong “bunhead,” Wenneberg shares her story about how dance has transformed into a lifelong passion.
Wenneberg grew up in Mountain View, “the town that Google took over”, and danced classical Russian ballet for 15 years starting at the age of three.
Although she dabbled in soccer for a year at a young age, Wenneberg admits she has always been a “bunhead”, a slang term used to describe someone who is extremely dedicated to dance.
In high school, she managed to balance her time between dancing for the Pacific Ballet Academy, her school’s advanced dance group Dance Spectrum, and the high school cheer team. Wenneberg decided to focus more on lyrical dance, jazz and hip-hop over ballet. “I wasn’t getting any of the big parts and was told I wasn’t going to make it basically,” she said.
From there she spent a week in New York with Dance Spectrum, dancing with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Alvin Ailey from American Dance Theater and Broadway Dance Center. During the last two years of high school, Wenneberg found time to compete with her high school cheer team and became captain her senior year.
After she graduated high school, she knew she wanted to do something theatre arts or dance related. She chose Sonoma State because she “loved the idea that [SSU was] a really prestigious arts and dance college. It was cool to be known for that and I was really into that and I thought that was really beautiful.”
Once she reached Sonoma State, Wenneberg was ready to branch out and try something new. “I came to Sonoma and found a whole new world, it was definitely shell shock,” she said.
Coming out of high school as captain of the cheer team, Wenneberg initially inquired about the cheer team at Sonoma State, however she decided to become a dance major and focus on that. After graduating, Wenneberg will go back to school to study kinesiology and become a sports medicine therapist for dancers.
Throughout her time at Sonoma State, she has participated in a range of theatre arts and dance productions.
The week of November 29 through December 2, Wenneberg will be participating in the Fall Dance production for her third time. The show is a collaborative performance directed by the head of the dance department, Kristen Daley, although it is mostly a student-run production.
From stage managers to light designers to dance choreographers, students can explore multiple career opportunities with this production. It is completely student choreographed, giving the dancers the chance to engage their creative sense and try something fun and new. It is an open audition, so no matter how they perform everyone gets to participate.
Wenneberg is dancing in one piece for this semester’s show and has choreographed another separately. “I did not put myself in my own piece because it’s really hard for me to see when I’m not on the outside seeing everything,” she said.
Choreographing is no easy job, said Wenneberg. “From audition to putting the dance on the stage, it is at most a 10-week process.”
When asked what her favorite style of dance to choreograph is, Wenneberg responded “I really love all different styles...I like to do what I do now which is modern contemporary dance. It’s very body-based and improvisational.”
At 21-years-old with 18 years of dance experience, Wenneberg is truly a dance aficionado. Her love and passion for the sport shows throughout her career, having been part of three teams during high school and devoting her studies and time to dance in college.