The Final Performance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The curtain rises and the crowd focuses on the stage. Amidst the other girls, I pose, ready and excited as I soak up the audience’s attention and channel it into energy. In that moment of intense silence, 14 years of training flash through my mind and my emotions escalate until finally the music and the performance begin.

From the first gesture, my energy pulsates through each leap, turn and kick. I feel the eyes of the audience as it becomes entranced. The graceful choreography comes without thought; a year of practice has ingrained the actions into my muscles. This fusion of mind and muscle clears my head and the world disappears. At that moment, nothing matters more than the pirouette and the joyous reaction of the crowd. Every placement contributes to the beauty of the work. The position of the hand and the height of the jump are vital to the whole picture.

The motions may be smooth and fluid or harsh and precise, but they represent more than the work. Through these steps - steps I will never take again - I demonstrate traits I feel too timid to express off stage. The exhilaration of the production overpowers my timidity. No longer do the constraints of my parents, friends or myself limit me. While performing, I am free to become whomever I want. On stage, a modest 17-year-old changes into a saucy tango dancer or a delicate woman of the royal court. Behind the flashiness of the tango dancer or the softness of the courtier, however, hides a glimpse of reality because to become these personas, I must draw from experience.

Recently, I discovered how the attributes I learned to express through dance affect my daily life. I now carry myself with more poise; I walk with more grace. I experience more freedom to convey the emotions which previously I would only show during recital. Dance forced me to break my chains of humility. Through performing, I have become more confident; while on stage I explore, grow, glow.

As the production ends, completion fills my body. The audience, preparing for the finale, watches the end of the choreography with special intensity. The last note of music sounds and I freeze, pained by the end of a character and of a year even as I long for more to come. With the applause, the future fades and a sense of accomplishment and pride erupts. I take my final bow of glory - the curtain falls.

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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