The moment I knew I was a dancer

This week I was challenged to think about a major "aha! moment" in my life as a dancer and an artist. The first thing that came to my mind was the moment I truly knew and internalized that I was a dancer and that I could dance well. I wish I could say that moment hit me at my very first recital, as I began sewing the ribbons on my inaugural pair of pointe shoes, or even when I taught my first ballet class. But, unfortunately, that moment was to come many years later.

From a very young age I knew it wasn't just a matter of wanting to dance but the fact that I had to dance. I was born with the desire to dance. It is a part of my soul and ingrained in my DNA. And for a very introverted and timid young girl, ballet lessons provided the perfect outlet for expression and building personal discipline.

Soon, however, it became painfully apparent that my DNA had left out what I thought was one very important piece of the puzzle: the perfect ballerina's bone structure. No one even needed to tell me. It was just obvious that the other girls had teeny bone structures and I did not. They were taken aside to meet with the head of the ballet company to discuss lead parts and special classes. All the while I danced the same part year after year. It never stopped me from dancing, mind you, but I had begun to believe that because my body would never be ideal, my technique would never be ideal, either. I would pretend I was Suzanne Farrell in class to take my mind off being “different.” I also avoided looking at myself in the studio mirrors except when absolutely necessary. Watching videos of my performances was out of the question.

As my teens progressed, I was asked to be assistant teacher of the preschool ballet class and then suddenly I was in charge of my own class of elementary age girls. That all my hard work had resulted in this honor had not clicked even then. I only knew from my mentors that my work in class was "clean" (this I thought was said to less than ideal dancers to add some variety to the criticism) and that I was paying for some of my tuition by taking over the lower level technique class. (And I really enjoyed teaching those sweet girls who were instrumental in my decision to teach for all these years afterward)

It wasn’t until my Freshman year of college, however, that I finally came into my own. My roommate and I-both dance majors-had been chosen by another student to perform her choreography in a showcase on campus. The piece was contemporary and required bare feet-which was entirely out of my element. For some reason, though, this person seemed to think I could handle the challenge and the rehearsals continued.

A week before the showcase the choreographer had the horrifying idea to videotape the rehearsal so we could watch ourselves and do a little polishing. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I wanted to do the best possible job I could with someone else’s choreography.

The dreaded moment arrived as we huddled around the little TV in a dorm room to watch what I was sure would be in the top ten of the most embarrassing moments of my life. But all I could do was stare in shock as the girl who looked just like me danced in my signature black ballet skirt. All the arm placements were not just correct, they stretched and breathed with the music. The crisp turns sent the ballet skirt into a rippling disk at her waist and her feet were even pointed at the appropriate times. She was pretty good!

There must have been a strange look on my face because at some point my roommate nudged me in the ribs. “I can dance,” I said before I could stop myself. The other girls in the room all turned to me with expressions on their faces that clearly stated they thought I had lost my mind. The choreographer had some sarcastic response to the equivalent of "duh" and she told us to watch the recording again. This time, however, I saw myself through new eyes because then and there I knew I was truly a dancer and that I was where I needed to be.

This is not to say there were not other disappointments or doubts along the way-there always are in life-but I continued to look back at that instance as confirmation to keep dancing and to keep growing... To dance hard and dream big.

What was an "aha! moment" for you as a dancer, artist, human being?




Follow by Email

Total Pageviews

Jenn's books

Mansfield Park
An Assembly Such as This
Eight Cousins
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Little House in the Big Woods
A Little Princess
The Captive
On the Night of the Seventh Moon
The India Fan
Mistress of Mellyn
The Hiding Place
Anne of Green Gables
The Apothecary's Daughter
Redeeming Love
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Diary of a Young Girl
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I Know What You're Thinking: Using the Four Codes of Reading People to Improve Your Life
A Room with a View
Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon

Jenn's favorite books »


5 Things (382) Christmas (154) music (137) Recipe (134) Advent calendar (125) Fun Things (95) ballet (82) films (66) dance (65) books (57) podcast (50) Thanksgiving (34) 30 Christmas Films (30) 30 days of thankfulness (30) book review (25) musings (25) chocolate (22) TV shows (21) Netflix (20) crafts (20) tried it Tuesday (17) YouTube (15) What I Learned (14) Jane Austen (13) recipes (13) DIY (12) Guest Blogger (12) good news (12) question of the week (10) photography (9) Cabin Fever (7) Jimmy Fallon (7) Movie Monday (7) Easter (6) The Tonight Show (6) art (6) beauty (6) music monday (6) product reviews (6) DWTS (5) Fathers Day (5) Instagram (5) poetry (5) writing (5) Blogging Ballet (4) Chanukah (4) Influenster (4) Photo-Hunt (4) Rob Reiner (4) The Masked Singer (4) The Torn Veil (4) bollywood (4) tea (4) Balloon Fiesta (3) Coronavirus (3) Creative Writing Wednesday (3) Doris Day (3) Halloween (3) Quizzes (3) giveaways (3) just ask jenn (3) lists (3) opinion (3) 30 Rock (2) Agatha Christie (2) Andrea Bocelli (2) Fred Astaire (2) Frosty Vox Box (2) Hulu (2) NaNoWriMo (2) National Novel Writing Month (2) New Year (2) SNL (2) SYTYCD (2) Soundcloud (2) Stranger Things (2) The Piano Guys (2) Valentine's Day (2) book lover (2) creativity (2) shopping (2) thoughts (2) 5 Recipes (1) 9/11 (1) 99% Invisible (1) Alec Baldwin (1) Audrey Hepburn (1) Audrey Meadows (1) Ballet in Cinema (1) Becky Melby (1) COVID-19 (1) Cary Grant (1) Charlotte Bronte (1) Crossword Puzzle (1) Dateline NBC (1) Down the Rabbit Hole (1) Dr. Phil (1) Edith Wharton (1) Eurovision (1) For King & Country (1) Gig Young (1) Good Friday (1) Gospel for Asia (1) Gregory Peck (1) Hanukkah (1) Hidden Brain (1) Howard Keel (1) Idina Menzel (1) Independence Day (1) InfluensterApp (1) Jenifer Ringer (1) Jerry Seinfeld (1) Jim Carrey (1) Korean Dramas (1) Leap Day (1) Lie to Me (1) Louisa May Alcott (1) March Madness (1) Marie Taglioni (1) Maya Plisetskaya (1) Mother's Day (1) My Big Fat Revenge (1) NASA (1) NFL (1) Nat King Cole (1) New Kids on the Block (1) Olympics (1) Once Upon a Time (1) Opera (1) Oregon Zoo (1) Pilates (1) Pillow Talk (1) Queen Latifah (1) Rachel McAdams (1) Recap the Week (1) Rock Hudson (1) Scotland (1) Serial (1) Shark Tank (1) Super Bowl (1) Suzanne Farrell (1) Tea Leoni (1) That Touch of Mink (1) The Muppets (1) The Nutcracker (1) The Princess Bride (1) This American Life (1) TikTok (1) Toby Mac (1) Tony Randall (1) Unorthodox (1) Unsolved Mysteries (1) Vox Box (1) Will Ferrell (1) World AIDS Day (1) baseball (1) blogs (1) choreography (1) chronic illness (1) dance major (1) dating (1) devotional (1) domestic violence (1) etsy store (1) (1) games (1) musicals (1) quotes (1) top 10 (1)

Contact Form


Email *

Message *