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December 12, 2009
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My earliest memory of snowflakes and sugarplums held me riveted in my seat for the entirety of the performance, while other four-year-olds were squirming in their seats. I knew that represented my future, my life. For the next four years I pirouetted in the living room, jeted in the hall, and plied while brushing my teeth until the long awaited day when it was my turn to shine on stage. My grandmother took me to audition for the very school I watched perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker each Christmas, the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. I won a General Mills’ scholarship which covered all expenses for the first year of my training. All I ever wanted was to dance Romeo and Juliet, taking Susan Farrell’s place next to Angel Corella on a New York City stage. Occasionally even sleeping in a straddle was no sacrifice to achieve this goal, my singular dream.
The most influential person throughout my training was Marcia Dale-Weary, the artistic director of CPYB, where I studied for 11 years. I’m proud to be able to include her in this essay for not only has she inspired so many talented dancers throughout her long career, she has been enormously instrumental in shaping my life. Eager to gain her approval I strove to become the best technician I could be, and in doing so found that I truly loved dancing and all it encompasses. It is a great honor to have trained with her. Though in my early years my goal was to impress and improve for Marcia, I now realize that the more valuable lesson, to which I credit her, was how to work for myself.
The structure and symmetry of classical ballet has always appealed to my sense of order, while the sense of freedom I experience as I lose myself in the music lifts me out of the monotony of everyday life. While my schoolmates where jumping rope, swinging and enjoying recess, I chose to stretch and plie. In the early years, missing birthday parties, field trips, family vacations, and even my brother’s high school and college graduations did not seem like much of a sacrifice compared to missing classes and rehearsals.

As I grew and matured from that passionate eight-year-old into a more practical teenager, my dream transformed into something more feasible. From then on I was eager to use my training to further my education at a four-year institution, majoring in ballet. I strove to improve with each class I took, and somewhere in the back of my mind I continued to hold that “little girls dream” as my inspiration to develop artistically. From my first class I was like a sponge: eager to soak up everything and anything I could. My artistic satisfaction has always been derived from gaining technical skill. Achieving perceived perfection in each movement was what I strove for and is what has sustained me all through my life as a dancer.

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