Dancing Genes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My favorite movie of all time isn’t a Hollywood classic produced by a famous director, starring actors who are cultural icons. In fact, it was made by someone who few except my mom remember, and the “stars” are actually her dance students. It means a lot to me, however, not just because it was my first dance recital but because the number “Me and My Shadow” is performed by me, my mom and my grandmother, Bammy. The two of them have been professional dancers all their lives, and there I was in the movie, following in their footsteps. I feel very fortunate to have inherited their gift, but more than that, I am honored to have these two women in my life.

At the age of 28, my grandmother was forced to grow up fast after the sudden death of her husband. She was left alone to raise four kids under the age of seven. Dance was a fundamental part of her existence, and it provided a viable way for her to support her family. Running a business and raising a family was difficult in Saco, Maine but my grandmother delighted in the fact that she was able to make money doing what she loved.

My mom, Janet, has danced since she was a toddler. As a teenager she moved to New York to follow her dream of dancing on Broadway. She achieved her ambition and after she married my dad, they moved to Massachusetts. Following in Bammy’s footsteps, she decided to open a dance school when I was five. Since I didn’t enjoy ballet, and she wanted me to continue dancing, my mom added jazz classes. By doing this, my mom was able to contribute financially to our family, continue to do something she loved, and create an activity we could share.

I am not the greatest dancer, but with lots of hard work and determination, I have improved considerably. More significantly, I have grown as a person, and I attribute much of my success to my mother and grandmother’s example.

Dancers are expected to perform with grace - indeed, it is a key element in the art - but being gracious is something I have transferred to everyday activities as well, whether working at my dad’s restaurant or interacting with classmates. I owe the women in my family a great deal for nurturing my love of dance. It has created a bond between us by weaving a unique physical and emotional intimacy; we speak a special language. I have made many great friendships through dancing and, of course, it keeps me fit. Bammy is a fine example of how doing something you love keeps you alive. She is now 70 and recovering from hip surgery, but expects to be dancing again soon. Although I am not planning to be a dance teacher, I know the knowledge I have gained will be a wonderful asset and a source of joy for the rest of my life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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