I hold dance near and dear to my heart. Ever since I put on my first pair of ballet slippers at the age of two, my mother said I was invincible. And I believed her.
Classical ballet jetés to the top of my list of favorite genres of dancing. The awe of wearing a glittery tutu and satin pink pointe shoes resembles everything I wanted to be when I grew up. While many dancers today set their sights on the choreography of commercial dancers like Willdabeast Adams, I keep mine on the fouettes that signify the strength and beauty of the Sugar Plum.
The barre gives me a safe haven. Rather than sitting at home like a couch potato, the barre serves as my go-to stress reliever because there’s nothing better than slipping on tights and leotard and feeling the marley beneath my feet. I lose all sense of what’s happening in the “real world” at the barre. Not to mention I get my daily workout in. So long smelly gym.
But there came a time when I decided to get serious about my training. I went to a performing arts high school where I majored in dance. My ballet teacher told me that I mustn’t waste my God-given talents and that I needed to work harder. I put all my effort into dancing as much as I could—senior choreography, 14-plus hours in the studio and weight training to balance my body out.
I made sure to become the well-rounded dancer that colleges look for. But by senior year, I knew that I wanted to concentrate on my ballet repertoire. I added on another 10 hours of training to my rehearsal schedule on top of more choreography at a ballet conservatory near my house. The feeling of invincibility kept me chasé-ing through life. I felt like the world was at my feet, until I landed on the ground with an injury that cost me my dreams of tulle and pink ribbons.
I tore my meniscus and Posterior Cruciate Ligament in a dance competition. After being taken off the floor by a paramedic, I sobbed as much as I did when Angel died in RENT. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I placed my identity in dance. If I wasn’t a dancer, who was I? After months of rehabilitation, a rejection letter and a bout of depression, I knew my odds of becoming a professional dancer had exited stage right.
Today, I still have dark moments where I regret the decision to discontinue my career as a dancer. But I’m thankful to have been able to transform my artistry into writing. My new form of expression. I also dance for my university’s dance team and feel grateful enough to have spent time dancing for a NBA-D League team where I traveled overseas to China for a month. They say not to give up your dreams and while that’s true, you can still transform your dreams into something better. Although dance feels like an emotional roller coaster, it’s a ride I don’t think I’ll ever get off.