Although the challenge that I selected said that I was to write about my first love and my first kiss, I think that it getting a little too personal. The relationships that I have had did not only belong to me, but to my exes as well. I would prefer to leave other’s personal lives out of this.
I however put some thought into what other types of love there are. Love is not always towards another human, but a passion or activity. For anyone who knew me growing up could attest that my first love was with dance.
Over my 8 years in classes I did ballet consistently but dabbled in hip hop, lyrical, modern, jazz and tap. I ate, slept, and breathed dance.
I was in the 3rd grade when I started my first ballet class. I have poor feet and weak ankles so my mom thought that ballet would help strengthen them. What she didn’t bargain for was that I would get hooked on the structure & discipline of ballet. I loved holding the barre in my hand, working my way through the different positions and learning how to be elegant and graceful.
Dance was not just an after school activity for me. My Heritage Fair projects were about Karen Kain, I would raid the discount bins at the movie store for musicals and I researched point shoes in my free time.
As I became a teenager, dance became my escape. I was never the best in my class but I never missed a class and could often be found after the studio closed, practicing on my own.
None the less I continued to be second rate. As my frustration grew, so did my determination. I would push myself further and further. Still, when competition season would role around I would go home with my bronze medals (based on score, not on placing). I kept telling myself those lines that we are fed over and over again: practice makes perfect; winners never quit and quitter never win; hard work always pays off…
Unfortunately, one day while doing simple jumps my knee gave out and I had to take a break while it healed. The doctor told me I had an underdeveloped muscle that held on to my knee cap and that if I were to ever go on point shoes, I would not be able to dance again. My dreams were shattered.
As my friends went on point, I sat on the sidelines. Unfortunately the syllabus we were using only allows you to go so far without being on point. I started repeating the same level, jealous of what their bodies were capable of. It was heartbreaking for me.
Later on that dance season I found out that I would be moving away. I knew that in the city, to dance in the level were I was stuck, I would be dancing with girls much younger than me. I made the decision to hang up my shoes, but didn’t tell anyone yet.
During my last set of competitions, I stopped trying and just went through the motions. To my surprise my solo brought me platinum medals and awards for Most Promising Dancer. I remember coming off stage afterwards and one of my fellow dancers who almost always won the top prizes was more excited for me than for her own medal. I burst into tears… tear of happiness for finally accomplishing what I had wanted for years, tears of sadness because it took giving up to achieve it and tears of anger for knowing that it didn’t change the fact that I would never be able to excel beyond that.
Now, almost 9 years since then, I sometimes think I should break out my tap shoes and join an adult class. Maybe one day I will but I have a few other things on the go right now to focus on instead.
Passion is a funny thing, it can push us to achieve great things but it may also be our undoing. I gave everything I had at the time into that passion and even though it brought a lot of mixed emotions, I am glad that I went through it. Now when things are tough, I think about the broken toe, the damaged knee, the difficult steps and how I managed to keep going despite all those things. Yes, I was not the best but that is ok. Being the best probably would have made it less of a passion for me, I would have had less to strive for and less to gain.