Just Dance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 8, 2009
“Great, I'm gonna be late!” Running into class is a normal practice for me. What can I say … sometimes it takes forever to find a parking spot. I got the best one on Saturday, but today, the third level. I rush to the dressing room and throw my stuff in my locker, change, grab my water jug, and sprint to the studio. One by one, people arrive for class while I talk and stretch.

“Okay, let's begin.” The teacher steps to the center barre. Here we go.

My leg is on fire! I think, as I grip the barre and try to keep my leg above 90 degrees.

“Hold it!” the teacher demands. “Don't let it drop! 90 or above!”

Man, this is painful! I glance around at the others and notice their feet shaking, legs dropping and rising, hands clenched awkwardly. At least I'm not the only one who's struggling. Drops of sweat race down my face.

“And … finish,” the teacher says. A great sigh of relief fills the room as legs fall gracefully to the floor. Thank goodness that's over, I think, shaking out my leg and wiping my face. “Okay, come to the center,” the teacher says.

I sit to stretch and grab my water. My body is finally starting to cool down when … “Adagio!” the teacher says, moving to the front of the class to demonstrate. Wonderful.

Just wonderful, that's what life is. Not just your own, but the life of everyone and everything around you. People jog by and smile, keeping rhythm with their pace, ­occasionally stepping on a multicolored leaf. Leaves everywhere, falling, flying, hanging on for dear life, and resting on clothes and bags, sidewalks, streets, buildings, and cars. It's so amazing what we can experience if we only open our eyes and see it.

“Adagio, first group!” the teacher says as everyone hurries to their position. What? I can't believe I was daydreaming through the whole combination! Now I don't know it at all! The music starts.

The music slowly fades. “Thank you,” the teacher says as applause fills the room. Class is over; we thank our teacher and accompanist and wait for our next class.

“Do we have jazz in here?” my friend asks.

“I think so. Do we have a break?”

“No, not today.”

I remove my ballet shoes and reach for my jazz shoes. We all talk as we wait for the teacher, and once she arrives, we ask about her vacation, and discuss her substitute. “Yeah, the other teacher had us do this fun aerobic warm-up. Do you think we could do something like that?”

“Are you sure?” she asks, astonished.

“Yeah!” the class agrees.

“Okay, you asked for it.” Ten minutes later ten of the 17 kids in class are on the ground gasping for air; only seven remain standing, leaning against walls or barres. “A real aerobic work-out would have been twice as long, so consider yourselves lucky,” our teacher says.

Class has only started, and I am ­already wishing it were over. An hour and twenty minutes later, I get my wish.

“LUNCHTIME!” I gloriously proclaim to the world, leaving the studio and heading to the lobby. I have just 15 minutes to prepare and eat my noodles before rehearsal starts. Before I know it, I am back in the studio.

“We're going to run everything straight through, starting with the opening,” the teacher says, preparing the music.

Two hours and 35 minutes later, our day is done. Applause fills the room for the last time that day.

Coming out of the dressing room, I say good-bye to my friends. As I get in my car, the worst feeling comes over me. At dance, my life is the easiest thing in the world. Now that it is over, I have homework and chores – all the stresses I had before dance are coming back to pester me.

When I'm dancing, all my troubles disappear. It's nice to have a time in my life when nothing else matters – just dance.

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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loughnerl said...
Oct. 28, 2009 at 4:05 pm
I really appreciate your writing since I can relate because I am also a ballerina. I know how it feels when "now that it is over, I have homework and chores- all the stresses I had before dance are coming back to pester me." I have ballet five times a week and always regret the car ride home, knowing that I will be up late once again finishing a project or paper. I also understand when you said, "when I'm dancing, all my troubles disappear." When the first drop of sw... (more »)
JessB. said...
Oct. 21, 2009 at 5:15 pm
Wow! I love this! I, too, am a dancer, and I can easily relate to the experiences you have portrayed so crisply here. Non-dancers really don't understand how hard ballet is, do they?
It's true - when you're dancing, nothing plagues your mind - nothing matters.
Dance is like therapy. (:
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