Dancing has been an important part of my life for more than eight years. When I was eight, my mother enrolled me in dancing classes, never realizing it would lead to anything serious. For the first few months, dance was entertainment, something to keep me busy. Although I enjoyed taking classes, I did not become serious until the following year, when my favorite tap teacher told my mother to consider getting me involved in more competitive classes. That was the beginning of my long and successful dancing career, one that has taught me many valuable lessons about the art of dance, and the art of life.
Over the years, whether I was living in Buffalo, Atlanta, or Randolph, New Jersey, I learned to adjust as a person, and as a serious dancer. In fact, I found traits I needed to survive and grow as a dancer were also valuable in school and life. Of all the experiences I've had as a dancer, I cherish those moments when I had the opportunity to learn from other dancers.
Learning is central to the development of a dancer. In Atlanta, for example, I trained with dancers who studied with the Atlanta Ballet Company as well as those who had trained with famous European dancers, I learned something different from each, even though practices were long and grueling. And yet, although at times I wanted to give up, I sensed that I would be rewarded for my efforts.
This pattern repeated itself several times. I would be uprooted and immediately plunged into new and bewildering situations that made adjustment difficult. However, each time I was determined to apply what I had learned, both as a person. and as a dancer. Each time my repertoire grew. By this I mean that I not only learned new steps on the dance floor, but I also gained maturity in my responses to the world. Indeed, in time I was able to welcome change, because I knew it meant growth.
Over the years dance has helped me to grow in other ways. From it I have learned that hard work really does pay off. I learned that discipline and self control are not only a vital part of dancing, but a necessary part of life. Also, I have recognized that motivation and perseverance are keys to success. What matters is not who wins in the beginning, but who is still on her feet in the end. Perhaps the most important lesson dance has taught me is responsibility. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.