As he leaps and pirouettes across the stage, many people don’t realize how much has changed over the past few years for Carmel High senior Dominik Haws. With a widespread smile and an energetic body, Haws graces the performing arts stage as the only male in the Carmel High Dance Company.
Haws started dancing as a sophomore after failing P.E. the previous year.
“During my freshman year, I was really unhealthy and did not pass Physical Education,” Haws remarks. “I was given the choice between Dance and Weight Training to make up for my P.E. credits and went with Dance because it seemed like more fun.”
Even though Haws looks flawless as he dances across the Carmel High theater stage during the recent dance show, “Unbury the Bird and Watch It Soar,” dancing didn’t always come easy to him.
“At first I hated dancing,” Haws remembers. “I felt ridiculous trying to follow the moves of others.”
But, over time, dancing grew on Haws. Now he dances every day and is part of the local dance school, Carmel Academy of Performing Acts, after receiving a special scholarship. At CAPA, Haws takes a variety of classes including ballet, hip-hop and jazz.
Haws also continues dancing in the CHS Dance Company led by dance instructor Kristen Tarozzi.
“Dominik started dancing with me his sophomore year and has definitely grown as a person and a dancer,” Tarozzi says. “[Haws] is definitely one of those students that keeps me inspired to teach.”
After being born in Watertown, N.Y., Haws moved to California a few years later, and then came to Carmel during his freshman year to receive a better education.
“Carmel has definitely opened a lot of opportunities for me,” Haws says.
Not only is Haws an active member of Dance Company, but he also was part of the cheerleading squad his sophomore and junior years.
“I started cheerleading because many of my friends were doing it and really liked it. I miss it a lot.”
Carmel High cheerleading coach Leigh Cambra also misses Dom.
“I loved having him on the team here,” Cambra says. “He is very talented, picks up material easily, is willing to try anything and has great showmanship.”
Haws chose to focus on his dancing, and unfortunately couldn’t balance it with cheerleading.
In December, Haws participated in the annual Nutcracker as the lead male role of Prince. It was held at Carmel’s SunsetCenter, where he danced along with many other CHS students including sophomore Erica Klein. Haws and Klein meet last year at CAPA, where they were paired together as duet partners for the competition team.
“I was immediately blown away by [Haws’] natural kindness, thoughtfulness of others and dedication to dance,” Klein says. “I would have never imagined he would be where he is now with dance when he started just a year ago.”
Haws and Klein spent countless hours together each week perfecting their moves and have become close friends. They both have dance in their plans for the future.
“My ultimate dream is to go to Juilliard and dance professionally,” Haws remarks. “As for now, I am applying to many schools that have excellent dance programs.”
Haws hopes to attend the University of California at Los Angeles this fall, majoring in dance.
While Haws has his dream future planned out, his childhood was less than perfect. He encountered many hardships after his father died a few years ago, and he came out as gay during his freshman year.
“When I came out, I didn’t really encounter a lot of discrimination, just mutters here and there,” Haws remembers. “My family and friends have always been so supportive of me. I’m really thankful.”
Nevertheless, Haws always stays strong through everything life throws at him with the help of dance.
“Dancing is my everything. It gives me a way to express myself.”
Haws, who used to live in Fresno, stays positive and hopes to help others in the future too.
“After I finish school, I want to open an arts center in Fresno because people there don’t get to experience the arts,” says Haws, who wants “to open up the doors” to those less fortunate.
With his kind heart and perseverance, Dominik Haws will likely go far in life with whatever he chooses.