StarQuest Spotlight – Jonathan Engebretson
May 3rd, 2017 by Roy Patterson
For this month’s StarQuest Spotlight, I choose to feature a very special member of our dance family – Jonathan Engebretson. Now 12 years old – Jonathan, although not a dancer himself, has been a part of the StarQuest experience since 2010 and is most often found on comp day behind the light board at our St. Paul / Minneapolis, Minnesota Regional competition. His dedication to StarQuest, drive to continuously hone his skills as a lighting technician, and upbeat personality are just three of the ways Jonathan exemplifies the StarQuest spirit. Prior to this month’s St. Paul / Minneapolis Regional, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jonathan and his mom to learn more about his passion for lighting and why he loves being a part of the StarQuest experience.
How did you begin working with StarQuest lighting team?
(Mom) Jonathan’s love for lights goes back to when he was a toddler. One of the first times we noticed he was into lights, he jumped off my lap at bedtime and he went over to the door and opened it in such a way that the hall light could shine in at a certain angle. When he was a bit bigger he would sit in his stroller at many dance competitions for his sisters and watch the lights fly around and he would count them.
THEN, in the summer of 2010, we went to our first World Finals at the WI Dells with StarQuest …and we met Stuart, Melissa, Caitlyn, and Lyssa! Jonathan was in kindergarten and we were there with our dance daughters. He stood against the wall and watched the light board and the lights. Stuart, a team member, asked him if he wanted to come over and push a button and Jonathan never left his side the rest of the competition. Stuart and Melissa immediately made him part of their team back stage. They were amazing – he would wake us up early in the morning and say “Mama, it’s time for me to go to work.”
In 2012, when Jonathan was 7, we were back at the Dells with our dancers and we could hardly bring the car to a stop before he jumped out to catch up with his StarQuest team! He worked with StarQuest staff and lighting designers and technicians at TMS lighting who were so amazing then and who have continued to be amazing – investing their time in Jonathan throughout the years. I will never forget the hours spent with him after the competition was over for the day showing him all the cues and letting him “play” on the board for as long as he wanted. It was amazing to watch him soak it all up, and the way they took him so seriously and trusted him on the board was astounding. We met Steve Wappel, the President and Founder of StarQuest, at this time.
Jonathan is now 12 yrs old and would never miss StarQuest! Even though our girls stopped dancing after the 2014 World finals and we have continued to bring our family across the country for Jonathan to be involved with SQ. He is constantly learning and working hard to make the competition be the best he can! Jonathan is never shy to jump in to give his opinions and help his fellow team members to be the best version of themselves!
What is your favorite memory of working with StarQuest?
(Jonathan) One of my favorite memories is when SQ was in Minneapolis last Spring and the whole staff went out to lunch. It was so great to all be together again! They also surprised me with a birthday cake because it was my birthday. It was the best! I also loved all the times at the pool in Galveston after the competition. It’s fun to all be together and laugh and swim and just have fun! Also when I got an award for lighting in Galveston. I think that was the best day ever!
In the future, is lighting design something you’re considering exploring professionally?
(J) Lighting design is definitely something that I am looking forward to doing professionally. I want to do it well and I would love to design for Broadway Shows and other theater productions. I love the stage and everything that goes into making it amazing! I have learned a lot from StarQuest and TMS lighting and I am very grateful. I someday hope to work for StarQuest as well. Steve and my StarQuest family always encourage me to follow dreams of becoming a lighting designer – but also pursue other interests. Steve tells me that my skills and experiences with SQ are for me to take into my life, beyond the lights. I am also interested in being a pilot and starting a band.
Have you taken the skills you have learned at StarQuest and used them in other areas of your life?
(J) Through StarQuest – I have learned to become precise and detail oriented in my schoolwork, my music studies, snowboarding, and with other lighting projects that I pursue. I have also applied the skills to accomplish projects such as building a personal computer and applying a MA2 software program to it so I can build light cues just like the board I work with at SQ. I also love to excel at sports such as snowboarding, freestyle scootering, and I enjoy working with others on my soccer team. I have done all the lighting for events at my elementary school, and this year I am enjoying being in charge of the middle school lighting for the theater dept. I have been asked to do lighting for our local high school as well. Last summer, I was invited to work with the crew of the Lion King national tour when they performed in Minneapolis. It was an amazing experience, and the cast and crew were the best – treating me as one of their own.
How has StarQuest inspired you to be the Best Version of You!
(J) SQ has taken my passion for lights very seriously and turned it into a reality. They have given me new experiences, and taken the time to teach me so many things and let my experience be my award! They let me learn by doing, asking questions and listening to my ideas. We all work so well together! I am very grateful and so is my family. It is very obvious to me and my family that “The experience is definitely the real award!”
In addition, StarQuest has helped me develop confidence and trust myself. They have created an atmosphere for me and the performers on the StarQuest stage to always be our best – to be comfortable and to be ourselves – because our best is amazing! When I am older, I want to inspire other kids to follow their dreams – and also to help kids get into lighting if they love it like me.
(Mom)-StarQuest continues to consistently prioritize children and their families – alongside the performing arts. They inspire children on and off the dance floor to be the best version of themselves, and I am so very grateful.
What is your motto?
Do you know an exceptional member of the StarQuest family? Email firstname.lastname@example.org the dancer’s (or studio’s) name, state, and why you think they should be featured! You may see your nominee interviewed in a future StarQuest Spotlight blog!
Mariel Pauline Rosen is the StarQuest social media concierge. She likes shiny things and believes in your sparkle!