I stumbled into the world of dance when I was five years old. I had the attention span of a gnat and the coordination of a baby deer. My main concern was running around the studio with the other girls in my class and attempting to make them lose their focus so they'd play with me. I was awful, but I was five. When you are five, awful is still cute.

My first performance came around, and I basked in all of the attention it got me. I remember my cousin helping me tie my hair up in a bun and having a million pictures taken of me, beaming in my green tutu. Being a non competitive studio, we were all there just to have fun; and that's exactly what we did. My class got up on stage and was greeted with a chorus of "awww's." I danced, I was awful, I was cute, I was shrouded in bright lights and applause, and it was then that I realized the extent of my love for performing.

I returned to class the following year and I was a little less awful. The next year, I was even less awful than that! My skill set grew, my attention span grew, and my love of performance grew. I went on to branch out into theatrical and musical performance and my stage presence and love of the limelight can always be attributed to that first time I walked on stage. Through dancing, I grew a lot as a person; but maybe grew isn't the right word. I am still growing. There will always be room for me to grow.

And the things I love about dancing branch far beyond my growth.

Being a dancer has helped with my coordination, flexibility, health,and even memory. The physical and mental benefits to being a dancer have made me a better, stronger person. I find myself thinking more now than ever about where I would be today without my foundations in dance. Would I still have a short attention span and poor memory? Would I still be a klutz with terrible posture? Would I have grown even half as much? Chances are, I would be a completely different person if I had never started dancing.

But the benefits of dancing also branch far before my growth.

Back to the beginning, specifically. Back to the roots of my awful five-year-old self wanting only to make friends. Back to the friends I successfully made, the friends I now call my family. Along with all of the positive attributes of the dancing itself is the constant love, support, positivity, laughter, advice, and friendship that radiates from my dance family every time I see them. We are there for each other through everything, we can talk about anything, and we have the ultimate Secret Santa parties. There are no people in my life that could compare to the people I've met through dancing, and I wouldn't trade them for the world.