Never Give This Up

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"Point your toes and spot! You girls are the best of the best, my top dogs. The beautiful ballerinas that every little girl here wants to be like when they grow up," Ms. Glenda declared as she worked us harder than ever before. I had no energy left as I stared down the clock, waiting for it to strike nine. My lungs were screaming for a break, sweat beating down my whole body, with cramping feet and bruised up knees. My instructor repeated, "Again.. Again!" Turn after turn, jump after jump, I could do this routine in my sleep by now, convincing myself all this hard work will pay off in the end. Finally, ending class with a round of applause, this year's dance lessons have come to an end. Dance can be a true addiction in spite of the hard work.

Waking up the following morning, having barely slept from the anticipation of my very last dance recital; my body begs me to stay in bed, I treat myself to a relieving cold shower. Double checking whether I have all my tights, shoes and costumes in order and with a feeling I have forgotten something, I am out the door, headed to Harmony High School. Forty minutes later, I am dragging my tired, worn out body inside the dressing room, with Celine Dion blasting in the background as I begin globing generous amounts of gel in my hair. My friends and I were singing along, off-key just like we do every year. Everyone's nerves were activating as the clock got closer to ten. There was one more hour to go as my sister's freezing, cold hands began applying my performance makeup. I fought back the urge to sing while she perfected my eyeliner, struggling to put on my layers of tights and frantically checking to make sure I had everything absolutely perfect before jumping into pictures with my friends. Glancing at the mirror, I reflected on my past thirteen recitals. My mother always told me, I had grown into a very beautiful young woman and dancer but I never believed her. This year, I finally recognized what she saw in me. I was holding back my tears and trying not to mess up my makeup when someone shouted, "five minutes until curtain." Being the first number to open up the show puts a great pressure on my shoulders. Being the best of the best gives me a very small margin to mess up.

As I took in a deep breath, the air was suffocating me with the scent of hairspray and glitter. As the clock ticked faster and faster, I rushed to put my favorite cherry red lipstick on my nervous lips, as my heart thumping harder and harder as I walked behind stage to put on my warn out ballet shoes. My body scolded me for not stretching sooner, the darkness calming my anxiety as I frantically ran through my routine over and over in my head, fluffing my tutu one last time before gracefully running on stage. The blinding lights illuminate the stage, and the music starts to play. I began dancing without even thinking about it. Glancing at the facial expressions of the proud audience before me, I found they seemed amazed, holding my breath as I prepared for my fouette sequence, the feeling of accomplishment and relief running through my body as I nailed my turns. From the smiles across my fellow dancers, they nailed them too. Running off stage, out of breath and leaving the audience with high expectations are the grandest acts ever. This is the moment I realized all the pain, sweat and tears were truly worth it.

I walked back to the dressing room, questioning myself if I could ever give this up, especially all the hard work these past fourteen years with the memories, and friendships. Why keep asking when I already know the answer?

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