Before I could walk, I danced. Before I could write, I danced. By age 3, I was performing on stage. Dancing has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Although I no longer dance on a stage, I still hold the same passion. My parents put me in dance classes early on at a studio I would remain at until I was 20 years old. Starting out in tap and ballet, I later added jazz. In my teens, at the height of the high-kick teams across the nation, I fell in love with dance line. By the time I finished junior high, I was trying out for my high school dance line (high-kick team). While I made the team, I chose not to remain part of it as my desire to try out had more to do with proving to myself I was good enough to make the team. However, I continued taking dance classes as the studio was an extension of my family.
My final year at the studio, I had already suffered a severe back injury from a horseback riding accident. I was no longer able to continue with high-kick even though I so desperately wanted to. That year, the line I would have been on went on to compete at a symposium and place first. Instead, I chose to go back to my roots and just do ballet, adding a lyrical class as well.
At the end of the season, we had 5 performances over the course of two days. I had just changed into my costume for my final number and was milling about outside of the auditorium. Our recitals were always held at my high school in our auditorium. Two Home-Ec classrooms were converted into dressing rooms; and below the stage were the dressing rooms for the seniors. On my way back behind the stage, I came across a young dancer crying by herself. Of course, I stopped to ask her what was wrong and she told me she didn’t have anyone to french braid her hair. Typically, parents would volunteer to do so for the kids whose parents did not know how. The line to get your hair braided was always a long one and it was a constant scramble to find someone who was available to get it done quickly. I remembered being that little girl… my parents out in the audience waiting to take photographs of me as I came out on stage. I remembered how badly I couldn’t wait to be a senior and have a big dressing room below the stage… with my own mirror surrounded by lights… and space for all my flowers. At that moment, I knew what I had to do.
Taking her by the hand, I led her behind the stage toward the stairs leading down below. It was pitch black and if you didn’t know where you were going, it was quite possible you could end up out on stage by accident during a performance! This little girl held my hand so tightly and I whispered to her that we had to be quiet as we made our way down the stairs. Once we reached the green room, her eyes widened in awe as she took in the sight of the senior dancers stretching, icing injuries, grabbing a quick snack, or even a catnap. I smiled to myself as I ushered her into my dressing room and sat her down in front of my mirror. Two bouquets laid on dressing table; one being a dozen red roses from my boyfriend, and the other a beautiful spray of colorful flowers from my parents.
Grabbing a comb, I started to comb through her hair and made quick work of the perfect french braid. At the time, I don’t if I realized what my actions likely did for her. Looking back, I can only hope that as she grew up, if she continued dancing, she did the same for some youngster when it was her turn. As I finished her braid, I noticed her grinning from ear to ear… taking in the moments of being in the “senior dressing rooms” and having a “senior dancer” braid her hair. Secretly, I hoped she would brag to her friends.
Before taking the stage for my last number, I stood behind the curtain with my group waiting for the previous number to end. This was my thrill… being on stage with the spotlights on me. While I’ve never been one to enjoy being the center of attention, dance does something different for me. It transports me to a place where my heart and soul simply pour out through movement and any attentive eyes go unnoticed. To this day, when I dance, I don’t notice those around me… watching or admiring. I simply dance. 1In my mid-twenties, I found dance again through partner-dancing multiple times a week until I was nearly 30.
I was knocked out of my moment by the girl next to me stating, a hushed tone, “Oh my God… this is your last dance, isn’t it?” That’s when it hit me… my final number… of my final show… my last performance… never to set foot on this stage again.
So, I did what I knew how to do best… I danced my heart out.
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”
Notes [ + ]
|1.||⇧||In my mid-twenties, I found dance again through partner-dancing multiple times a week until I was nearly 30.|