Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
As a five year old, ballet was my favorite thing in the world. I would stay at the dance studio until 8 p.m. despite my bedtime being 7:00. I would use green and pink fabric paint to customize the dance bag my mother embroidered my name on after school. At home, I would practice opening and closing my feet like a book, as my teachers would say, to work on my turn out. As a child, I had already learned what it was like to fall in love.
Two years ago, my dance studio closed down and I had to switch to another one. The studio I switched to is completely different than the one I grew up at: this one is competition-based, not love based. Teachers expected more of their students. The students expected more of their teachers. I felt like I was thrown into a middle of a bull fight to be the best, and was completely thrown for a loop.
December 15, 2016. Studio seven. Sleeping Beauty soloist auditions. I am second to last in line and tense on the side of the black rectangular room. There are shades over the windows, curtains over the mirrors. I feel the curtains on the side of my arm as I stick close to the wall. I am here because I want the role of Lilac Fairy in the spring ballet. I watch as the ballerinas who stand before me in line perform a section of the Lilac’s part one by one. These are beautiful dancers. Each of them well rounded in all types of dance and on competitive teams. All of them fluid. All of them confident and stylistic in their movement. All of them more experienced than me and all of them intimidating.
A year ago at this time, I would have laughed at the notion that I had any chance at earning soloist role at my dance studio. I lacked the certainty in my movements good dancers have and the ability to move on if I messed up a piece of choreography. I was awestruck at the dance ability of my peers, fifteen, and anything but ready to go on stage.
Or so I let myself believe. May 13th, 2016. LifeAustin Church. Recital day. On this day, I performed on stage for the first time in over a year and was reminded why I began dancing as a child. I was so surprised when I walked on stage as gracefully as I did and even more surprised when the smile my teachers demanded me to have, came naturally. Though the red and blue lights on stage illuminated all five dancers, it felt as though they were just for me. Oh, I thought, I like this.
Soloist results were posted the following week of December. I looked at the fairy list and my heart sank, for I didn’t see my name. I reread the list and then saw it– but, not under Lilac Fairy. Instead, it was typed under “Carabosse.” I had also auditioned for his role, so I wasn’t thrown into a character I knew nothing about, but I was definitely disappointed. I was confused, too, because Carabosse is the evil and revenge seeking ex-fairy. Her part consists of dancing and acting, which I was completely unprepared for. I thought: this can’t be me!
But I embraced the role. I decided that despite my lack of certitude and evil grace that any Carabosse has, I would be the best Carabosse. After my recital in May 2016, when I rediscovered my love of performance, I decided that I would take on anything. I worked and worked and worked even harder in every rehearsal. At home, I practiced raising my eyebrow to look evil in my bedroom mirror, as corny as it made me feel. As the other fairies rehearsed, I worked on my jumps in attitude that I struggled with at the side of the rectangular room. I worked to the best of my ability to be the best.
Because I got this role, I have come to learn a few things. I have realized that dance is less about perfection and more about passion. And that this idea can be applied to pretty much everything, except for perhaps performing a surgery. Because I had to be so confident on stage, I have learned to also be more confident in my day to day. Since my May recital and role in Sleeping Beauty, I have become more willing to jump into things I am not positive I will get. Growing up, I was told: “if you dream it you can achieve it.” But until this year, I have merely heard the cliche saying, not understood it. Now I look forward to opportunities that challenge me instead of telling myself I am not up to them.