When I was in the fourth grade, the bright idea came to my head that I would somehow perform in the elementary school talent show. All my friends attended dance classes, and would swirl and twirl in their beautiful tutus. Growing up, my family didn't have enough money for my dance classes, but I had reruns of Dancing With the Stars, and that was enough for me. My uncoordinated soul dreamt of attending Julliard, and becoming one of the great dancers my young self idolized.
The week before auditions came, and I began to master my dance. Instead of choosing one type of dance, I made a mixtape of different songs, where I would dance according to the style. There was the tango, in which I danced to "Dance With Me" by Drew Seeley (made famous by Cheetah Girls 2). Then the hip-hop, which I embarrassingly admit was from "Promiscuous Girl" by Nelly (could you imagine a 9-year-old dancing to Nelly?!). After doing ballet to Beethoven's "Fur Elise" and a lyrical to "Only Hope" from A Walk to Remember, I would finally feel like I was a real dancer.
The day of the auditions came, faster than expected. My young self was filled to the brim with anxiousness. I couldn't wait for the chance to share my hard work with the talent show judges, in hopes of making it to the show. I didn't have any dance shoes, so I wore my sister's old ballet flats and a navy blue dress that made me feel like a star.
As I began the dance, I was all smiles. The nervous disappeared, and I was ready to do what I loved. However, as I twisted and turned into an infinite abundance of joy, I noticed that the judges were laughing. Did the song say something funny? I didn't understand until later, when one of my dancer friends explained that I didn't have any sense of lines or symmetry in my arabesques.
Still, I was hopeful. The following week, cast decisions were made. All of my dancer friends rejoiced seeing their name on the coveted list. I scanned and scanned for the last name "Schemmer," but there was none. I didn't make it.
I was crushed, and from that moment on, I stopped dancing. My first taste of failure scared me so badly that I used it as an excuse to hide from getting better, being stronger and becoming a better dancer.
And you know what? I wish I never stopped dancing. I don't care if I was good, or if I was just as terrible as my young self dancing and prancing in a teacher's room. Whether I got into Julliard or Riverside Community College, it wouldn't matter to me.
I wasn't dancing to be famous one day, though the idea of fame was a great incentive. I didn't even dance to impress my friends or family. I danced because I was happy, and it was my personal way of expressing my feelings, thoughts and emotions. I knew I wasn't professional, that my lines were off and that I probably wouldn't make it to the New York City Rockettes. But I saw the television shows, my friends' dance recitals and the parades of beautiful dancers dancing out of joy, and I wanted it.
I'm 17 now, and it's been years since I even thought about my dancing dreams. Somewhere in the midst of fairytale and reality, I grew up. My "ballet shoes" were thrown away, and my tutus were stored in the abyss of my closet. I stopped stalking the Julliard website, knowing that my dream had changed.
Yet, when all is still and quiet, I feel the lost part of myself itching to pirouette around the house like in the days of my youth. My imagination reminds me of my childhood dance heroes, and for a moment, I'm taken out of this sleepy small town and into Radio City Music Hall for my debut performance.
And this time, I won't stop.