From The Dancer Who Took Her Final Bow
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From The Dancer Who Took Her Final Bow

For all the dancers that had to walk away.

From The Dancer Who Took Her Final Bow
Claudia Zavala

To my love, my passion, my heart and soul,

Thank you. You have taught me so many lessons that I took for granted while I was in the studio. You taught me more about myself than I could ever find out by myself - my limits, my strengths and weaknesses, and how to fit inside my body. No matter what happens, I could never forget all of the important things I have learned in the studio.

You have given me the drive to achieve what I thought was never possible. You taught me that I cannot expect the results I dream of without initiative. Everything I do comes from within, and only I can make the changes and become the better dancer, the better person, that I want to be. At the end of the day, you elusive love, you may have escaped me and been just out of my grasp most of the time, but that taught me how to grow taller to reach for you. That feeling of self-control, determination, and elation when things did go splendidly was worth every second of frustration and hard work. I have become a stronger, better person, and you have made all the difference.

I miss the heart-to-heart talks with my teacher. Through everything, she was, and is, there for every one of us. I miss sitting among the other dancers, crowded around her while she talked about life, love, relationships, growing up, and obviously, dance. So many of my childhood and early adulthood memories come from sitting in that studio, soaking up every word. She used to tell us all sorts of stories that would make us laugh and sometimes even cry.

I miss conventions and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to test my limits. I have never sweat so much as in those sessions, but I never grew so much in one day either. The atmosphere in that room was so energetic, so willing to learn, and so fast-paced.

Never again will I wear my tap shoes, or my pointe shoes, or my jazz shoes. One might think that I wasted 12 years in the studio dancing for nothing - that all that talent and technique and work may never be used again. To those people, I tell them that dance is not something purely physical. It's an art - you must live it and feel it to produce movement from your heart and soul and that never leaves you. It makes a mark on you, and shows in your everyday life. It's in how you sit straight in your chair, you relevé to reach the top shelf, how you constantly have music running through your head. It's how you dance through life.

I will always be able to go back to the studio, but I will never be able to go back and dance every day. My heart longs to be back and laughing with my friends, to wear that leotard I so hated before I found self-confidence, even to practice a million and four relevés until my arches could no longer take it. Dance was my outlet, my reward, my love. I hope we meet again, sooner rather than later.

To the young dancers, please continue to do what you love, no matter what anyone tries to say. You are good enough, you are beautiful, and you shine.


The Dancer Who Took Her Final Bow

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