What is most important to you/a crucial part of who you are?
I feel the sweat drip down my neck and soak into the fabric of my bedazzled gown. I clench my fists and inhale deeply, closing my eyes to see the reassuring grin of my choreographer in my mind. Here I stay, tucked securely behind the stage curtain for a few more precious seconds before I must face the crowd, forced to scan the eager eyes of family members and complete strangers alike before beginning my routine. As I walk out to perform my first solo dance number, I remember how much I have invested into this very moment – the passion coursing through my veins that has prepared me for whatever may occur in the next four minutes. I have never felt more alive.
I knew I had a love for dance long before experiencing the adrenaline of a solo performance. I appreciate its unique ability to transport me into my own fantastical world where anything is possible, creating an environment where even the most absurd ideas can come to life before my eyes. I was addicted to making moves my own, adding my own flare to age-old techniques and expressing myself through the only way I knew how. Pushing myself and growing as a dancer became my only interest, and perfecting self-choreographed routines completely filled up my free time.
When I was five years old, I danced around the house, drug store isles, and even in the backseat of the car – anywhere I could have an audience and feel the rhythm of the music around me. I felt like I could make the lyrics my own and personalize their meaning to fit my own experiences. Whether my arms were flailing in the air or I was doing the splits, I fell in love with connecting to the songs I began to know by heart. A few years later, I found a way to connect my immense love of all things Disney and dance into one fervent passion. In my middle school years, I put on productions for friends and assumed a myriad of beloved animated characters, taking on role after role in the name of entertainment.
Soon enough, I began to develop my choreography and see the creativity and originality needed to craft an engaging piece. I also started to see the effect that a good show can have on an audience, forming a bond between complete strangers who share the common goal of enjoying a great performance. I currently specialize in Hawaiian hula, jazz, and hip-hop at 24/7 Dance, and I act as the teaching assistant there as well. Through instructing my peers and younger generations alike, I have learned how to settle creative differences, becoming a problem-solver, a dedicated friend, and a shoulder to lean on in the name of being a strong role model to those who look up to me. If I would not want to learn from the studio at which I teach, I feel I would be wasting my time.
Through dance, anything is possible. I have grown in ways I would have never expected and have become the determined person I am today. I have learned how to become a great student, an effective teacher, and an eloquent communicator. I have pushed myself beyond my limits, performing in Paris and London as well as the 2016 Macy’s Day Parade. I have gained lifelong friends, danced through the pain of grueling practices and sore muscles, and delivered performances that I could have only dreamed of only a few short years ago. I do not dance to look pretty or prance around onstage with friends, although these are surely great benefits; I dance to let my personality shine through and be who I want to be. I dance to reassure myself that I can, and I will if I put my mind to it. I dance to show others that dreams really can come true.