My fluid movements allowed for no mistakes. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were going to watch my every move. Dance with your heart. I muttered these words under my breath. This was a pivotal time in my life. I had waited for this moment all season. I wanted to execute each move perfectly, to dance my heart out, not only because of the crowd, but because of something greater which linked my heart to this dance.
During my sophomore year at Hotchkiss High School, I joined the Hotchkiss Varsity Dance Team. My dance experience, up to this point, was non-existent, but I was confident in my abilities of becoming a dancer. My love for dance was enough to feel self-assured. Our dance coach, Stephanie Neff, informed us at the beginning of our season that she had lost someone important to breast cancer. As a commemoration to her beloved friend, she wanted to dedicate and choreograph our state dance routine to raise awareness for breast cancer. Little did my teammates and I know, this routine would mean much more to us.
Our dance season progressed quickly before my eyes. The team immediately became close with each other, and we ended up feeling like a family. Before we knew it, we were leaving in the old beat up school van from our small town of Hotchkiss for the big city of Denver.
The Colorado State Dance Championship occurs every December at the Denver Coliseum. Our team arrived with a strong desire to inspire people, not just win a trophy. I was all about this mission until we arrived at the warm-up area and my stomach turned into knots. Then I peeked into the performance arena of the Coliseum, and my mouth fell to the floor. Not only did the vastness of the arena frighten me, but the number of people waiting and watching from floor to ceiling was enough to make my courage melt away. Warming up for the routine was a complete blur. The clock became my enemy as I watched the hands tick tick tick towards the time, closer and closer to the very moment I had waited for.
The announcer over the P.A. system blurted out, “If you could direct your attention to the dance floor, the Hotchkiss High School Varsity Dance Team will perform next.” It was here; the precise second when we walk onto the hard wooden floor. Oh No! I forgot the routine. Breathe. Just breathe. We were in position, and BOOM, the music started and my body took me where my mind would not. I hit every move exactly with no error. The music ended and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I felt liberated; the dance had ended, and the roaring of the crowd was payment for all of our hard work.
We took third place at State that year. The number meant nothing to me because in my mind we had won first place. We stole the hearts of many and proved that we could influence a crowd of thousands. It is true, “Never doubt that a small group can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
I became a true dancer and proved something to myself that day. I had moved...