I was deep in thought, sitting on a plush ottoman in my dedicated dance studio. I love dancing, it’s a deep passion of mine. To me, it’s a right. The right to dance to music, the right to dance when you are happy, the right to dance in front of people or all alone. Dancing is a gift, a desire, a goal. To dance with perfection and to awe a crowd. To dance with a passion that is still appreciated although no one understands. To dance is to express yourself. To dance is to be yourself. Dancing is a right. So why should we pay so much money?
My name is Olivia Y. and it is my 10th-year dancing in a row. I’m 12 years old, and I took dancing for granted. Dancing has been my heart, my soul, and my sanctuary. I had a constant clockwork schedule when it came to practice. Do some homework for 2 hours. Get ready at five pm, be ready in ten minutes, leave in five minutes, and be there in fifteen minutes. Practice for two hours, take two minutes to get ready, leave in five minutes, come home in fifteen. Eat a light snack in 20 minutes, do homework in one more hour, eat dinner in thirty minutes, finish homework by ten, and get ready for bed in five minutes. It was a never-ending cycle of commitment. After months of practice, the recital was in June and then practice starts back up 2 months after. It has always been that way as far as I remember. But then, it was not.
I looked down at the small 8.5-inch by 11-inch piece of paper. Labeled The King Centre for the Performing Arts. My passion all written down to be explained. I turned the page and all I saw was stacks of numbers upon numbers. I turned the page again, dismissing it for a moment before my eyes caught the number 1,000. What could a dance school possible need that for? I scanned the paper again. It was a bill. Why would a dance center bill us for 1,000 dollars? I continue to scan the rest of the page only to find several charges of 1,000 dollars and several charges of half of that! Why is it so much money? I continue to look only for the bill to add up to 13,000 dollars! Why did it cost so much, you may ask, it was because it cost a lot of money to buy the costumes, to run plumbing and such in the dance center. Not to mention, they had supposed Rockettes teaching us. It was truly horrifying. If dancing was a talent or not, voluntarily or not, it shouldn’t pardon overcharging the customers.
I threw the paper down onto the worn peninsula counter, fuming at the cost. How could something that people claimed to have a passion for, something that meant so much across nations, be used and charged like so?! This was something that everyone desired, yet many could not obtain because of how much it cost to take lessons. As I paced across my kitchen, my mother came down and saw me. Then she saw the papers strewn across the counter. Shaking her head ever so slightly, I turned around and saw her. I pointedly looked at the papers on the counter and back at her. She merely said, “I watch you dance. It makes you happy. That is what matters.” I shrugged. I didn’t realize that my mom continued my lessons because of how much I meant to her, how much she always wanted my best interests at heart. I struggled to realize that she wanted me to have the best life possible. To have dreams within arms reach at all times. I trudged up the stairs and got ready for bed. As I sat there, glaring absently at my dad’s old phone he had given to me, I thought very hard. At the moment I only had one practice left for the year. It was tomorrow. Thursday. It was an old-timey clock-in, clock-out situation. As usual. After I said goodnight to my mom, dad, and 2 brothers, I lay in bed still contemplating. Although it was not asked of me, I felt I should still come up with a solution, even if it seemed unneeded.
I closed my eyes, only for the blaring sound of my alarm to go off. I got up bleary-eyed and went to wash my face. Overnight I had a dream and thought long and hard about the problems of the bills and dance. I had always known it would’ve cost something, but 13,000 dollars is a bit much. That kind of money could’ve served a better purpose, like saving for something permanent. But then again, not everything is permanent, no matter on this earth is permanent. I still hold strong in my opinions. I don’t think 13,000 dollars is an excusable amount of money to pay for dance schooling.
As I thought more in-depth into the so-called problem, I realized that 3 years ago, there was nothing left to teach. 3 years ago, I had stopped learning new moves, new techniques. This only fueled the flame. 3 years I had gotten my parents to spend money in order for me to go and learn nothing! I quickly changed. Be ready in ten minutes, leave in five minutes, and be there in fifteen minutes. Practice for two hours, take two minutes to get ready, leave in five minutes, come home in fifteen. Eat dinner in thirty minutes, get ready for bed in five minutes, be asleep by ten. Clockwork.
So here I was, waiting for my mom to pick me up from dance. The last few days of the year were very relaxed on their schedule, with minimum homework and no school. As such, I sat on a plush ottoman, so this is where all that money goes, I thought, grimacing in amusement. As I nodded my head in acceptance to my decision, I saw my mom pull up. I got up and got in. I told her that “I don’t want to waste your money on something that won’t let me reach my goal. That won’t let me move on. That won’t let me dream. That won’t help. I am not dancing at that school anymore.” She hesitated and spoke in a tone that literally screamed, we will be talking about this with your father first. I nodded my head absently.
To dance is to be something. To dance is to be passionate. To not be used. To be great or small. To be seen or not. To dance is to do something you love. To dance is to understand a whole new world. To dance is to flow. To dance is to express yourself.
To dance is to be yourself. And you shouldn’t have to pay for it.