Just Dance

So, in my craziness of moving & cleaning, I came across my college admissions essay that I used to apply (and get in to) UIC. Talk about nostalgia. Also, I can’t believe I compared dance to crack…

Time to get back into classes…


 

Dance is for me, what crack is to a crack addict: my addiction. It’s an addiction fed through hours of studio rehearsal, followed by obsessive practice at home and wherever possible. What I’ve been doing in dance class, I’ve found a way to carry on to every aspect of my life. Although this can be an annoyance sometimes, when you’re writing a paper for English and you keep spelling “point” with an “e” at the end.

Dance follows me to school, to work, to the mall. I carry myself the way I do because of ballet class. Slouching is not allowed in ballet, you dance with your back straight, shoulders back, chin up. I can’t help it, but that’s how I walk…even though I know sometimes it can come off as a little conceited or intimidating. I don’t know how random people perceive me in the hallway at school by the way I walk, but even if they think I’m mean or unapproachable, it doesn’t really matter to me. I walk this way because I dance, and I’m honestly incredibly proud of that. Another thing is that because I’ve been performing since I was four years old, speaking, or doing anything in front of an audience has never been a problem for me. Thanks to dance, it’s become a second nature; along with something I actually enjoy doing. That’s a plus, considering all the oral reports we end up giving in school. I like that it’s not a big deal for me to get up here and talk to you guys about dance, or anything else, for that matter. It sure makes English class a little easier.

Besides just using skills from dance, I can honestly say I need dance to survive. Besides it being something I enjoy doing, dance also keeps me…how should I put it…sane? It’s true! When I’m stressed, mad, sad, happy – you name it – I dance; especially when I’m stressed. Let’s say I had a bad day at school. Teachers were mean, tests were bad, and it seemed like the educational system was just out to get me. I would come home, turn on some music and dance around the living room. The music I choose reflects my mood and as I dance, I feel myself calming down. I have an entire playlist on my iPod dedicated to dance. When something really good happens, or I’m just feeling really happy for some reason, I choose a song like “Let it Be,” by the Beatles, because I had a dance to it last year and performing it never failed to make me happy. I have to dance when I’m upset, there’s no other way for me to calm myself. I can’t sit still. That’s when I’ll dance to acoustic Paramore, “Almost Lover,” by A Fine Frenzy, and Evanescence.

If I’m not at home or in the studio and I’m suddenly overcome with the need to dance I just start dancing. I can’t help it. It’s nothing elaborate, like performing a whole dance in the middle of the school hallway, usually some sort of combination, or short dance, from class. Sometimes, if I’m out in public, people look at me funny. If I’m with my friends, it’s no big deal – they’re used to it – but the patrons of the Bolingbrook Promenade aren’t accustomed to seeing teenage girls spontaneously burst out in dance. One time, I was at the grocery store after ballet class, still wearing my leotard and tights, and I just felt the need to leap and tour-jeté down the aisles. Needless to say, the people who worked there thought I was psychotic, and maybe I am! Like I said, dance is my addiction. Perhaps I need therapy.

When I started dancing, I wasn’t even four years old yet. My neighbors introduced my mom to this studio – the Center for Dance – which is where my mom initially enrolled me in my first pre-ballet class. It’s kind of funny that thirteen years later, I still dance there. It’s almost become my “home away from home” – I know the teachers, the students and even some of the parents – I look forward to going to the studio more than I look forward to going to my own home, sometimes.

I remember my first dance recital, vaguely, of course. My memory isn’t quite that good. What I remember is being out on stage, the only one in my class of three girls who didn’t have intense stage fright. I remember the pastel tutu’s I wore with the sequence on the leotard. I’ll never forget that we danced to “It’s a Small World,” because that’s one song that has a way of staying in your brain. I sang it at the top of my lungs, as we were instructed to do while I did my pliés and tondues. It was then I knew that dance was going to be something I’d always be doing, something that I would always need in my life because, well, I just felt so natural being on stage. I was “free,” in a sense, and I loved every minute of it. Even at a young age, I loved the recognition I got from the audience when I finished a performance. The finale after the final act is always something to look forward to, when everyone in the company gets their moment in the spotlight, followed by group bows, just unifying each dancer. It’s a feeling I can’t explain, but something I’ve always loved.

I haven’t always been addicted to dance. I have, in the past, been in other activities. But when they failed me, dance was always faithfully by my side. For instance, I used to be a cheerleader, in addition to dance. I cheered for five years with the Downers Grove Panthers. Those were some interesting times, cheerleading came easy for me with my dance background (again, I use dance in so many different places in my life), but if I ever had an extra cheerleading practice at the same time as dance rehearsal, I’d end up at the dance studio. I guess dance has just always been more important to me. Cheerleading was never as fun or as rewarding for me as dance was, either. It’s not like I did a cheer when I was feeling happy, or anything. Okay, maybe I do…but not in the same way I dance.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to play other sports – I’ve played basketball, softball and soccer – I just have never been any good at any of them. In gym class, I’m the pathetic one who no one passes the ball to, but to be perfectly honest, getting hit in the head with a softball doesn’t really appeal to me. Neither does tripping over a soccer ball, which I’m bound to do. Give me a tutu and ballet shoes and I’m graceful, but put me on a soccer field and I’m a spaz. So, sure, I’ve tried other sports, but it’s only solidified the fact that dance is my passion, my life, and all that I know. It’s the only thing I’m good at, but more importantly, it’s the only thing I’ve ever truly loved to do.

The point is, I cannot live without dance. Dance isn’t just a sport, an art or a past time for me, it’s a way of life. Is it so insane to say I need dance to function? Even if it’s only random dancing down the aisles of the grocery store, I need to be doing it or I fear I might go insane. I get angry when I miss dance class for any reason, even something like being sick! I can’t help it, but even when I’m too weak to dance because of an illness, I just want to be at the studio, dancing. Sometimes, I think people don’t quite get why I love to dance so much. Why would I want to wear pointe shoes and have my toes bleed? Well, I’m not really sure. I love how it looks, I think it’s beautiful. And besides that, it’s fun for me. But you know what? When you’re addicted to something, sometimes you can’t explain quite why you do it. It could be killing you, or in my case, killing my feet, but you do it anyways because of that feeling you get. Dance: I want it, I need it, I love it.  

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