I bent down to tie the fraying ribbons of my pointe shoes, hands moving from habit due to years of ballet. As I straightened up, Tchaikovsky’s opening plays in the background, and another rehearsal begins.
High school arrived in August 2017, and along with it, a whole new level of stress and pressures.
Thinking about college, the future, and what would look good on my resume became the majority of my thoughts during the day. Getting high grades, which had come easily to me before, began to pose challenges. Along with academic struggles, keeping up in ballet classes had become a new difficulty. The strict movements of this dance form seemed to only compound the harsh demands of high school.
So, at the insistence of my friends and instructors, along with my curiosity, I signed up for a Contemporary class held at my studio the next week.
After receiving an unsatisfactory grade on a history test during the school day, I stepped into the dance studio with a more-than-average amount of stress weighing on my shoulders.
Class began, and after warm-ups, the instructors started to teach fluid and loose choreography to us. The emphasis on versatility and improvisation was foreign to my structured knowledge of ballet.
Sure, I had known of the existence of contemporary dance, but attempting the choreography was something entirely new. It was strange, this lack of restrictions on my movements.
The chords and melodies ringing through the room seemed to guide my limbs, lifting and stretching in endless ways. I left class with new knowledge and a yearning for more.
Dance became an escape route from the endless path of stress and school. It was strange, how the stress from countless deadlines could be stopped with a single routine. The forgotten algebra homework and halfway-finished history essay lay carelessly on the kitchen table as I let my body run free with the music. No longer was I constrained to dancing to orchestral music, I could now choose from pop songs to electronic, to anything.
The freedom and fluidity of this art allowed my mental relaxation from the various pressures I experienced. I left the unforgiving and harsh demands of high school and extracurriculars.
As weeks and months passed, the pure exhilarating passion stemming from this art began to improve other aspects of my life: mental health, energy, friendships. I started thinking more about how to better my health and relationships with others.
However, this is not to say that I quit ballet. I continued to love and dance both art forms and found ways to enjoy them in different ways. Ballet brought a sense of stability through its strict and structured movements.
Contemporary dance became a way to express myself and my struggles through the art of movement.
Along this journey, I have discovered that passion is something one may never find in a lifetime, but, if found, should be cherished for a lifetime.