BEST & BRIGHTEST: Rounds of applause await as grad goes to next level

Island ConnectEd graduate Ella Olesen compelled to seek spotlight and results

CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin Ella Olesen of the Island ConnectEd program will study music, theatre and dance at the University of Michigan in the fall.

Ella Olesen is shooting high and hoping to one day land among the stars – on Broadway.

Olesen, an 18-year-old student of Island ConnectEd and Dover Bay’s performing arts program, is aiming for a career on the stage.

She’s spent years working on her footwork, voice and flair for the dramatic, and recently got accepted into the University of Michigan’s school of music, theatre and dance.

The news came Feb. 28 at 4:06 p.m., said Olesen, who missed the phone call and heard the acceptance via voice mail. “I opened the voice mail and I literally fell onto the floor. I was in shock for like 15 minutes, I was shaking, I was so excited.”

Olesen’s mother, a dancer herself, put Olesen in dance when she was six years old. She hated it and didn’t want to go to class.

“By the time I turned 10, I think, I liked that you could never be perfect at it. There was always something to work on,” she said.

She also did musical theatre and later, threw voice lessons into the mix. Audiences could hear her as the cruel Miss Andrew in Dover Bay’s production of Mary Poppins, or as Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act, and this year she won an honorable mention at provincials for musical theatre.

“It’s so broad, you can be any person, any character, there’s so many different emotions you can feel,” said Olesen about what she likes about musical theatre. “I like that the possibilities of it are so endless and infinite.”

She also dances with Prism Dance Connections and Kirkwood Dance Academy and ranked top soloist at CoreDance Nanaimo 2018 and the Peak Invitational Dance Competition. Olesen has gone with her dance group to retirement homes to dance and perform and has taught dance to younger kids, but she admits this year there hasn’t been much time.

Her days are spent with the performing arts and keeping up her straight-A grades, a reason why she’s opted to take online courses through Island ConnectED. If she only went to public school, she said she’d either be missing school and falling behind or missing a lot of sleep.

But don’t be fooled. Olesen likes to work hard.

“I know when I work hard I am going to feel good about myself afterwards,” said Olesen, who spends a lot of time practising above the family garage. “I like to be practicing. When I am with friends I am thinking, ‘oh I need to get home’ and I am always trying to use my spare time wisely; seeing results is a big motivator for me.”

Island ConnectEd learning plan supervisor Louise Massey says Olesen is a quadruple threat: good at singing, dancing and theatre – and “super nice and smart.”

“She stands out in every way,” said Massey.

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