One of the things that make the OHS such a unique school is that it fosters the next generation of talented youth in various disciplines, from extreme motocross to orchestra and everything in-between. While every student here is dedicated to their education and curious about their studies, what we do outside of class is also essential to the foundation of this school. Our passions motivate us to work harder, clocking in hours before and after class every day. They come to life in the classroom as we are able to relate our experiences to our studies. And despite the stress involved in being a student as well as pursuing our dreams outside of the OHS, we all know that in the end our passion is irreplaceable.
These talent portfolios highlight our fellow passionate students. My goal is to shine a spotlight upon the student’s hard work, dedication, and love for their pursuits while also inspiring others about the difficulties we all face in our pursuit for excellence.
Here is our second talent spotlight.
Name: Kanon Hewitt
Grade at OHS: 11th
Talent/s: Dance (ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap), singing, acting, martial arts (ninjutsu/ninpo, capoeira), aerial silks
Describe your experience at the OHS:
I used to study at a South California private school, but I started homeschooling when I felt that I wasn’t academically challenged enough by the curriculum. However, I felt that the program that I studied with at first didn’t have the academic depth that I was seeking, so I did some research online and found the OHS. Additionally, I take lessons in various styles of dance, acting, and vocal training, and pursue a professional acting career, so I also wanted to attend a school that would allow, to a certain extent, flexibility in scheduling. Even when I moved back to Tokyo from California, I continued online schooling because I felt that the system worked well for me. This is my second year as a student at the OHS, and I feel that OHS has provided a rigorous academic schedule along with the flexibility I need, although because I live in Tokyo, the time difference can cause difficulties when scheduling classes and the Centra gods seem intent on disrupting overseas network connections. I am taking five classes this year, so the workload is far from easy, but the teachers and fellow students keep me motivated and eager to learn. Partly due to my love of theater, I especially enjoy the English Literature courses and the Latin language course, though learning a foreign language is a bit of a strange concept to me since I grew up speaking both English and Japanese. In addition to giving me the opportunities to take amazing courses and pursue busy extracurricular interests, OHS surrounds me with people who have similar obsessions, so I’ve always felt a strong sense of community among the student body. It’s a great environment in which to learn.
How did you start with your talent? What do you love about it and why is it so important? :
I started dancing classical ballet at the age of 4. After I moved to a studio that taught other genres like jazz and tap, I realized my passion for dance. The studio also performed musicals at their recitals, and through those experiences, I found that I loved singing and acting as well as dancing. Since then, I’ve continued taking lessons and performing in professional musicals and plays. I don’t know exactly why I love dance, singing, and acting so much, but I believe that I might be drawn to all the possibilities that it provides for one to express oneself. Through my experiences on-stage and from watching many shows, I also realized that performance has the amazing power to move people and draw out so many emotions that simply would not be possible through any other medium. I think that the exhilarating sensation of connecting to an audience on such a profound level is what continually draws me to performing arts.
I started aerial silks for a role as Moth in Tokyo International Players’ production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which involved months of intensive training for the aerial choreography and stunts that I would be doing on stage. There isn’t any safety equipment involved with aerial silks—the performer stays suspended above the ground by the strategic wrapping of silks around her body in the guise of choreography and the muscles of her hands and arms alone. I train with a mat underneath in case I fall from the silks, but onstage, there is nothing to brace a fall from several meters up in the air, so it’s a fun, yet scary experience.
I’ve been fascinated by ninjas and knights ever since I was old enough to play with dolls, and two years ago, a friend that I met through theater introduced me to ninjutsu, the martial art that originated from the ninjas of Japan’s Senkoku period. Like many others, I had only the image of ninjas that movies perpetuated—running around in black suites in broad daylight, disappearing in billows of smoke, and controlling the elements to aid in their nefarious deeds. Of course, these all turned out to be false (what kind of assassin wears an instantly recognizable black suit during the day?), but in addition to learning how to take down attackers, ninjutsu immerses me in the rich cultural history of the martial art, something that is especially fascinating because I live in Japan.
I started taking capoeira lessons this summer, becoming interested in the popular Brazilian martial art after hearing a mention of capoeiristas that had done well in MMA fights. The uniqueness of capoeira interested me, like the focus on sweeping strikes with the legs rather than the punches and kicks predominantly featured in other martial arts, and because capoeira is very much a dance on its own, I found that I enjoy it very much. While ninjutsu is all about survival, capoeira fosters a sense of community among the capoeiristas, and the devastating moves hidden in playful dances provided me with a great style to balance the brutal effectiveness of ninjutsu.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
My first professional role came when I was 11—I played an orphaned girl who eventually comes to accept her stepmother in a Japanese straight play entitled “Ribbon”. I signed on with a Japanese acting agency, and have performed in various musicals and short movies. In May 2012, I performed as Dorothy in Tokyo International Players’ production of “The Wizard of Oz”, for which I was interviewed by Being-A-Broad magazine. (http://www.being-a-broad.com/2012/05/kanon-hewitt/) I also work as the navigator for Japan’s best-selling English-learning program, Shimajiro.
Because I enjoy both academics and performance, I am trying to find a way to continually pursue both interests in the future.
What have been some challenges along the way/learning curves? :
I have always struggled to develop the muscles on my upper body past the basic level needed for everyday functions. Specifically, I underwent vigorous practice for the role of the Canary fairy in a ballet production of “Sleeping Beauty,” and due to overwork and lack of upper body support when dancing en pointe, I injured my knees. I was diagnosed with Osgood–Schlatter syndrome, which will not fully heal until my bones stop growing. Although the recovery process took about two months during which it was very painful to bend my knees unless I was sitting or lying down, I was able to resume dance and the injury only returns if I cause too much stress on my knees and leg muscles.
Categories: Talent Spotlight