My name is Annie. I am a dancer. There are lots of reasons why I dance, and I’d probably bore you if I listed them all, so here are just a couple. Dancing is one of the greatest forms of self-expression. There isn’t an emotion that you can’t show while dancing. Dancing is my therapy - it soothes me. There have been many times where I’ve needed to feel better and to feel happy, and the only way that it was possible was to lose myself in dance. My brother was diagnosed with cancer on August 28th, 2015. I’ve never needed to dance more than I did during that time in my life. It wasn’t just about physically doing dance. It was about all the support I had during that time from my studio friends and teachers. I have probably never been more emotional then when my family was going through that, but when I was at the dance studio, I was okay. Dance helped me forget our problems for a while. My dance studio is my home and my dance friends are my second family and a dancer is who I am. It is my identity.
I don’t just dance because I want to, but because I need to. Dance is like the air I breathe and without it, I think I would suffocate. I love it so much. I can’t imagine being happy without moving to music. I can’t even imagine a day without it. Even when I am not at the studio, I find myself dancing in my room or down the hallway. I even choreograph dances in my head when I am listening to music in the car. Dance has truly become part of who I am and the thought of giving it up hurts so much. Sometimes, I feel like I started dance a little late in the game (third grade instead of preschool). Sometimes I feel like I have a disadvantage because I wasn’t born with natural dancer technique or dancer’s legs, but it is still who I am. I have learned to accept it and work harder, sort of embrace it. Some lessons I’ve learned since I started at the studio are that the only dancer I need to be better than is myself, and sometimes, it’s okay to let go and be myself. That is hard for me. I feel self-conscious a lot. I am working on it and really trying hard to stop being so critical of myself because I know I am my own worst critic.
I have recently discovered I have an injury in my back. I have to make a choice to either give up dance or keep dancing through the pain. Either choice is awful. Some people say that it’s okay or even a good idea to take some time off, and when it hurts so bad all the time, I feel like giving up is my only option. But that makes me feel very sad and alone. I don’t want to let my dance team down and I would miss them so much. I think I’d die if I gave it up. I’d lose everything because dance really is my everything. Especially ballet. Before I started ballet, I thought “Oh, I’d never like that. Ballet is only for girly girls who wear tutus and love the color pink.” But ballet just so happens to be my favorite part about dance. It’s the greatest class – it makes me feel strong and graceful and beautiful, even on a bad day.
There is a quote that I love and I’m going to break it down for you. It starts off by saying “Sometimes I hurt because I dance…” To me, this means that dance is hard work and I am going to get aches and pains and that’s okay because it will make me stronger. It means you can get seriously injured, so be careful. It also means that when you dance, sometimes you can bring out an emotion that you didn’t know was there like sadness or love. The next part is “…other times I dance because I hurt…” I relate to this because I have suffered through injuries and emotional battles. More than you would think a 13 year old girl would. When you are able to dance through the pain, it can make you stronger. If it is emotional pain, sometimes the best way, the only way,to get through it is to dance and let it go for a bit. The last part is, “…either way, dancing fixes it all.” No matter what battle I’m facing, whether it’s physical or emotional, dance is really the only thing that makes it okay. I dance because it completes me.
Annie is a member of St. Augustine Dance Academy Performance Company. She dances 7+ hours every week in ballet, tap, jazz and technique. Annie is also a teaching assistant for PreBallet students. When you need a listening ear or compassion, she's your girl!