I like to say I danced before I walked. That’s what my family tells me, anyway. Whether or not that is true, I guess I’ll never know, but I remember every dance class I have ever taken. I remember every accomplishment, every milestone, every new technique I finally mastered. Being on stage and performing is like something from a dream. The hush that comes over a crowd before the music starts, the way your heart beats in the first few seconds of a routine, how a dance seems to go on forever but end in a blink at the same time… Everything about dance is everything to me.
The first time I won an award for my choreography I was elated. I thought for sure it was a fluke. My short legs never lent me to have perfect technique, but I went out on a limb and did a contemporary solo for competition anyway. Most people get help from their coaches, but I went at this all on my own. I designed my costume, did my hair and makeup, and choreographed it from beginning to end all by myself. Solos happened on Friday, and group routines happened on Saturday, so it was the middle of the day Saturday during competition craziness when the finalists lists were put up. I was only a Junior then, and when our coach announced someone from our team had made the cut, I did not even fathom that it was me. To this day hearing my name come out of her mouth feels like something from a distant dream. When I lined up at the end of the day, awaiting my award (if any, at this point I was only a finalist), none of it seemed real. That day I got second runner up from all of the solos preformed by all of the dancers from all of the high schools around Kansas.
I still thought it was a fluke going into competition the next year, my Senior year. I had choreographed a jazz routine and a hip hop routine for our team that year, so my solo was barely on my mind. I think I made up half of it the day of competition. I had let myself down… But I did not let the team down; both of the routines I choreographed won awards specifically for choreography. That was the day I realized none of it was a fluke. I was a dancer, and I had something to say.
The day I had to stop dancing because my body gave up on me was the worst day of my life. I had dedicated 13 years to dance, and it was over in just a flash. I still reminisce about old routines, look up clips on YouTube from the “glory days,” and flashback when I see old competition pictures. I have new aspirations and dreams now, but dance will forever be the one thing that shaped my life. I learned hard work, dedication, determination, and, above all, that anything worth doing is worth the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it.
Originally posted at CK1