Ten Years of Effort

Dance was a big part of my childhood. I started when I was sixteen months old and ended when I was eleven.

My first recital started by meeting Ms. Jen, who I didn’t know. I had to take a stranger’s hand and go on stage to dance. I was scared, so I didn’t dance. I stood there for the whole dance, not moving. I failed that year, mostly because I was younger and I started the year late.

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But for the other nine years, I did pretty well. The last year or so is where I stopped improving. I could keep up; therefore, I stopped thinking. When I stopped thinking, I started getting sloppy. I forgot that one silly turn every time. Dance taught me to give everything my best effort, even at times when I didn’t want to.

Dance started off with me in a bumble bee costume. Since I started late in the year and didn’t do anything during recital, I had to start again. My second year, I was a rooster. I remember finishing the end of the dance. My third year was my favorite costume, as it was purple and had a little tutu.

I danced to a cutesy song called “Baby Face” for tap and “Petite Ballerinas” for, guess what, ballet. At this age, we got to wear the special tiaras for ballet. I only remember getting my fifth year award, but not the dances for 2002. I got to join the competition team for my sixth year. I did “Take a Little One Step,” like my sister did (although she remembers the dance even now, twelve years later). I wore a black and white polka dotted costume with a painful hat.

For tap, I did “Saturday Night Fish Fry.” Ballet was “Faust Waltz”, and jazz was “Rock Around the Clock.” That was the only year that I liked jazz. For my second year, I did “Happy Feet” in competition. I remember my mother making the hat, which looked a bit spider-like, and I wore it to dinner that night.

My sister was humiliated, as we were in a nice restaurant. For my third competition year, my eighth year dancing, I did “Swing Brothers Swing.” I also did a production dance for competition, which was “Come Follow the Band.” Everyone, except one younger girl and the teachers (because they didn’t have to wear it on stage), passionately disliked the costumes. They were velvet, which on a hot stage while dancing, is torture and they made us look like toy soldiers.

For nationals that year, we were in Daytona, Florida. We had to practice outside once, and I fainted. For jazz, I did a dance called “Drama Queens” and hated it. Tap was “Itty Bitty Pretty One” and ballet was “Coppelia Waltz.” For my ninth year, competition was “The Real American Folk Song,” and the first step I couldn’t get. Ballet was “Dance of the Rose Maiden” and tap was “Some Days You Gotta Dance.

” That was my last year of competition. When I got my tenth year award, I just did a regular tap dance to “Pineapple Rag.” The costume was a short, sequined blue dress that was uncomfortable and not flattering, at all. By maybe the seventh year, I stopped learning. It wasn’t my teacher’s fault.

I didn’t improve like everyone else, but I was still with everyone else. For competition dances, which are more complex, I just couldn’t do parts of them. The turn at the end of “Swing Brothers Swing” wasn’t that hard. Everything else before it went so fast that I had to skip the turn to catch up. Then it became a habit to not do the turn.

I had to practice, which I hadn’t done before. Since I had to work a lot harder, but wasn’t getting any better, I stopped enjoying it. “The Real American Folk Song” started off really fast, and the steps were so similar that I just had to make it up to look like what was supposed to happen. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to get my tenth year trophy, which I still have, so I just did a normal tap class for my last year. I did ten years of dance, and I wouldn’t take back a moment of it for anything else (except maybe butterscotch ice cream).

When I quit, it wasn’t a bad thing. I didn’t have to tell my teacher. I told my mother, who had been expecting it, I think. My parents had caught on that I wasn’t doing as well, and I had stopped trying. I didn’t have many good friends at dance with me, so there wasn’t anyone to tell. I remember telling a few girls, and they just said generic things to make them sound like they cared.

It was kind, but I had already made up my mind. I remember my sister being a bit upset that I wouldn’t dance with her anymore. I learned a lot in my ten years of dance. My mother says I learned about teamwork. I should say I agree, but by the end, I don’t think I was part of the team.

I also should say I agree when she says I learned responsibility by means of teamwork. I got attendance medals for all the years except the last, which is weird considering I’m late and sick quite often. Luckily, I got to experience a few great things. I got to travel a lot. I went to Disney World twice. Our family travelled to Las Vegas, where my sister danced. We got to go to North Carolina often. My favorite place was Charleston, South Carolina. We went there for nationals, and stayed for a week after in a rented beach house. My mother’s parents came and stayed with us too.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about going back to dance, just one simple tap class. I guess I still love it even if I’m not there.