Prompt: Something that you miss.
At the Barre: Here I Am Home
At the tender age of seven, when I realized that gymnastics was not my forte, I started taking ballet lessons and fell in love. My friend Katie and I would go a few times a week. My first role was an angel (also alongside Katie) in The Nutcracker. I was in heaven (haha, puns). I continued taking lessons after we moved to Oklahoma, this time at Sherri’s Dance Center. Because of the way that the classes were structured, I also added tap, jazz, and modern dance into the mix. I had to simultaneously take the class in my age group, and the one below my age, as well as practice at home, so that I could catch up with other girls my age, whom had been taking all of the classes since they were three or four. Eventually, I was able to move up to my actual age group.
When I was about nine or ten years old, my family visited New York, and I got to see the New York City Ballet perform.
I wanted to be Darci Kistler.
When I was eleven, girls in my class started to get pointe shoes. Since my dad is an orthopedic surgeon (bone doctor), he and my mom wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going on pointe too quickly, as I already had enough foot problems as it was. Much to my disappointment, a round of x-rays and a specialist later, my parents decided to make me wait at least another year before getting my beloved pointe shoes. I was the only girl in the class without them. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my heart was completely broken, and it certainly didn’t help that some of my “friends” in class would rub in the fact that I was without pointe shoes.
After struggling through a year of what felt like torture and countless crying fests, I went to the specialist again two months before my twelfth birthday. This time when I left the office in tears, it was from happiness. My mom to me to a dance store, and we bought my first pair of pointe shoes.
Immediately, I wanted to catch up so that I could hold my own in class against girls who had been on pointe for a year. I scheduled some private lessons two weeks before Nutcracker auditions. Since it would be my first time to be able to audition for the coveted role of “Clara,” I wanted to be able to do my best, even though in my heart I knew I didn’t stand a chance.
Auditions came and went in a blur. Then, up went the cast list. Before I even arrived at the studio to check it, someone called my mom to congratulate me: I had gotten Clara! That small moment of hearing the news was and still is one of my favorite memories.
The next three months were some of the most grueling, heartbreaking, and beautiful months of my life. I worked constantly, rehearsing at the studio and at home for several hours a day. Of course, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. I remember having one particularly awful breakdown, freaking out thinking that there was no way that I could ever perform the role well, that there had been a mistake… etc. It was a little “Black Swan – esque,” although not quite as psychotic.
Some of the other dancers were particularly cruel, talking behind my back while I was within earshot, trying to get me to mess up the moves… but I worked through it.
When I finally performed, it was one of the best experiences of my life! All the hard work and rough times melted from my mind. It was truly magical. I will never forget it.
I continued dancing until I graduated high school. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to dance several other fun roles, including countless different parts in The Nutcracker and in The Sapphire Fairy in our studio’s Sleeping Beauty.
Since I have stopped dancing, I have missed it greatly. It was so much hard work, but so thoroughly enjoyable. I will never forget all of my wonderful experiences in the world of ballet.