When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a dancer. In fact, I dreamed of finding anything I was good at physically. I played every sport in elementary school through high school, but none of them was really my “thing.” For some reason though, dancing was always in the back of my mind. Maybe it was the costumes. Perhaps it was the floaty, dreamlike feeling I got when I watched performances. Full disclosure though, I think it was just my admiration for an older cousin of mine (who was a phenomenal dancer). I wanted to be just like her: athletic, beautiful, and kind.
At three years old, my mom signed me up for a gymnastics class and a kiddie tap/ballet class. I had only one recital and then it was no more. I think my mom decided that the cost of studio time combined with driving an hour to classes far outweighed any potential I would ever have. While this sounds kind of harsh, I don’t blame her for thinking that. For one, I did miss the cue to change from the starting position (which was in a ball, on the ground) to the actual dancing part of my one and only recital I had as a child. Somewhere video evidence of this still exists. And in addition to that, I’ve always been terrified to do anything in front of crowds.
What’s funny though is that I remember swinging around a pole that was in my grandparents’ basement. I was probably no more than ten years old at the time. Of course, it was just a structural support beam, but still. That didn’t matter to me.
Then, in 2019, I danced in my first show with Aerial Dance. It sounds corny, but that day changed the trajectory of my life. I was extremely nervous – I was dancing with someone who, prior to deciding we would do our number together, I had never even met. Naturally we spent months preparing and practicing. I spent literal months worrying about this performance. Eventually though, there comes a point before a performance when you’re as ready as you’re ever going to be. Leading up to the performance I was a wreck, until the moment I stepped on the stage.
And then something happened. It all disappeared. All the fear and the nerves and the stomach churning just disappeared. After our number, I spent the rest of the show sobbing (to the point where my false eyelashes all but disintegrated). Not because I screwed up or choked and ran off stage, but because I was so proud. Until then I had never felt like that in my whole entire life. From then on I was hooked.
Being a student at Aerial Dance has given me so much. Confidence, social time, body positivity, and a hobby are all on the list, but there’s more. I now can say, with pride, something that I wanted to be able to say for my whole life: I am a dancer.