www.whyville.net Aug 9, 2009 Weekly Issue

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I've danced since I was three.

I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't go to my dance studio at least once a week. Dance competitions are the norm. The kids at my studio aren't like family, they are family. When I hear music, I find myself counting off an instinctive "5, 6, 7, 8 . . ." humming at the back of my skull. I sometimes feel more at home on the stage than in my own house.

So I guess it's safe to say that, at heart, I truly am a dancer.

I'm other things, too, of course . . . a friend, an artist, a sister . . . but if someone asked me what I am in my very soul, I'd probably say, "I'm a dancer. End of story."

Now, I'm not here to preach and tell you to find a studio of your own (although I do recommend it). I'm not going to tell you how it made me who I am today (which it did), or how many friends I've made (who are practically my siblings). That's another story.

But sometimes, life and dance really intertwine. Sometimes, dance is the only way to let out your emotions.

A while back, I was sick. Depressed, really. I didn't want to eat, everything hurt, and I didn't feel like hanging out with friends or watching my favorite T.V. shows. I dropped five pounds in a week, thought about cutting all the time, and worried my loved ones silly. I'm just glad I didn't do anything drastic.

Dance became almost a chore. I simply couldn't get those arms just right, and I didn't care; I lost focus and fell out of my turns . . . most of all, though, I couldn't smile.

Smiles were forced, almost physically painful. I've always had difficulty with fibbing, and a cheery grin felt like the biggest lie of all. How could I possibly put on a happy face when I wanted to break down and cry all the time?

My teachers and fellow dancers noticed, of course. Miss Justine's hawk-like gaze held a strange glimmer of concern. Miss Sandy, practically my second mother and the first person who ever let my cry on their shoulder, got a funny, almost maternal look on her face whenever she saw me dance. My friends would watch my half-hearted movements for a moment, searchingly, before averting their gaze. It was almost like everybody was embarrassed for me.

I never told any of them what was wrong. They never asked.

So they simply let me be, either because they were afraid to ask or didn't care. I was glad for the peace, while at home my mom would practically force me to eat something in the mornings. It was an escape. Eventually, I got better. My appetite came back. Piano lessons and dance classes became fun again. My obsession for anime was back with a vengeance. Most importantly, I started to love going to my studio again.

Sometimes, in dance, you just . . . shine. You might not be the best dancer out there, but for one week, one class, maybe just one song, everything is magic. You can practically feel people watching you, your legs are just so, and for an instant, your life is wonderful. You have not a care in the world, and for an enchanted moment, you glow. You shine.

So the other week, I went to dance, excited to see the familiar faces and hear the running jokes. I wanted to sweat my butt off, dance my heart out. I wanted to move.

And I smiled and laughed and when the music came on, everything was right. I was at peace; my instructors and friends looked at me because I was doing good, not because they were worried about me. So I let my face crack into the biggest grin in the world and I attacked my moves full-force.

And I shined.


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