After snatching a glimpse of the tinted audience, my heart sunk into a pot of boiling soup, as I did not yet fathom the intensity of the situation.
I continuously breathed in and out, longing for my muscles to relax and my mind to be set in ease; but I still could not grasp the realization that it was time to get the show on the road.
From the corner of my eyes, I noticed my teammates squealing with joviality and instantly was perplexed by their lack of anxiety and apprehension. Jealous and still bewildered, unsettling thoughts began to hustle through my head, helplessly whizzing from side to side, positioning me in a more uncomfortable state than before. Why am I the only person to feel such denouncing emotions? What if I mess up the choreography and ruin the chances of winning for my whole team?
As improbable as it may have sounded, I felt like I was going to be sick. Desperate for some reassurance and confidence, I shut my eyes and traveled back nine years.
When my mother suggested to me to try out dancing, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested, as all the minds of seven year-olds would typically be. Knowing that I would be reluctant to cooperate, she convincingly explained to me that I always had a knack for dance when I was younger and wondered why I never continued that natural talent. She added that when I was a toddler I always used to jump up and down and move my tiny hips to the beats of songs; it was saddening for her to let my supposed caliber loose. To avoid hearing any more unimaginable anecdotes of my childhood fancies, I listened to my mother’s advice and agreed to try out for dance lessons.
Immediately she began to call dance teachers from all over the Bay Area, determined to find the perfect one so that I could have a wonderful dance experience. Almost a week or two later, my mother received a phone call from a dance teacher from Dublin, and became ecstatic that there was an available spot for me. Being the oblivious girl I was, I did not have any fascinated appeal to the opening class and kept an indifferent approach. Little did I know that this one phone call was what steered my life into another direction.
Considering a talent that one never thought of having the potential of pursuing was impossible for me to understand, making it even more difficult to appear as though I wanted to be present at class. Struggling to think of any possible way to refrain me from attending, I was left to maintain a friendly demeanor for the sake of my mom.
“Welcome students to our first class for this session!” my dance teacher exclaimed once all the girls of my team settled in the room. The other girls sat with their moms with faces filled with excitement. And there was me, the complete contrary.
“Do I really have to?” I whispered to my mother, secretly pleading for a no. As expected, she turned down my request.
The choreography was not too difficult, so I was fortunate enough to not jumble up the first few steps. Move after move, position after position, the dance eventually grew to be three minutes long. Just as I began to believe that this dance may not be mediocre after all, I realized that I was practicing the steps backwards for the first one minute. Astonished that no one had caught me after being in the classes for about five weeks, I was on the verge of quitting. I went up to my dance teacher with shame and explained how sorry I was for my blunders, but she brushed it off with a smirk and told me to not fret upon it.
“It was a silly mistake, so don’t get so worked up! This doesn’t mean you can give up on dance. You should learn from your mistakes and move on,” she said with a soothing tone, instantly making my disappointment turn into an eye-opener.
Several months passed and my annual dance competition was just around the corner. Although there were a few more seconds left to learn from the song, I felt confident that I would succeed on stage. I wasn’t sure how, but I had increased my respect and love for dance within those months of mastering the strenuous routines and formations of the choreography. Chuckling at the uproarious fact that I had started off with practicing the steps backwards, I knew that I had accomplished a lot more than what I previously assumed.
At the last dance practice before the show, my dance teacher sat all of us down and spoke to us with a cherished voice, “Now kids, tomorrow is the competition. All of us have worked so hard, perfecting each and every move. You have developed such a pleasing friendship with each individual and I am so proud of everyone. Tomorrow I don’t want to see any careless actions because I know that you all have learned the steps well.” My teammates and I subconsciously nodded our heads, hinting no insincerity whatsoever. No more faults and slipshod mistakes; it was go time.
“One more thing,” she paused, a charming smile gradually forming. “When you dance on the stage and the fluorescent lights are beaming on your dazzling faces, remember how far you’ve come and the number of sacrifices you’ve made to fulfill your goals. Dance is a passion for all of you- embrace this passion; express this passion; feel this passion. Let your soul take over your body with a powerful force, and never hold back.”
On the performance day, we danced our best. We also had the greatest time of our life, as happiness beamed through our faces and established an irreplaceable ambiance of bliss and resilience.
What felt like a few seconds of closure, actually was a million years of dilly-dallying. I opened my eyes to my teammates eyeing me intently, puzzled why I stood there like an aimless wanderer, not knowing what to do.
It was two minutes until it was time to perform on stage and I attempted to release all my taut nerves by distending my arms and legs, prepping myself for the spotlight. Turning toward my dance teacher, I looked into her eyes with admiration; her glistening soft brown pearls impeccably matched her radiant smile. For nine years she had taught me perseverance, diligence, and determination.
Her criticism was never to intentionally harm me, but to improve my stamina and dance skills. By dancing and performing all her life, her dream of managing a dance company of her own was ultimately reached and without a doubt, she achieved such respectability. Although I still had butterflies in my stomach, I didn’t feel any more concern as I reconciled myself and thought of the wise words my dance teacher once told me and my group nine years ago. There was nothing to feel nervous about, there was nothing to feel confined by, there was nothing to feel insecure about. It was finally time to free the rousing zest inside my body and let the world recognize the undying love and encouraging passion I possess for dance.