My mom originally put me in dance due to how shy I was. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. It didn’t matter if I had known them for a long time, I just wouldn’t communicate. Preschool to me is just blurry memories of coloring by myself and wondering when I would get to go home for the day.

So when I was three years old, my mom enrolled me at Denton Dance Conservatory where I took my first dance class with Mrs. Lisa, the owner of the studio.

I remember putting on pink tights and a black leotard with a sparkly pink heart in the middle. I slipped on leather ballet shoes, and then was led into a giant room with black flooring. Wooden bars surrounded the sides of the room and pictures of girls standing on their tiptoes hung on the walls. My mom went to sit with the other parents in the observation area as I found myself in awe as the room filled with girls, with Mrs. Lisa standing in the very center.

I remember her telling us to get in a big circle and get ready to dance. On this day, I remember learning how stretch like a ballerina and gracefully run around the room. We learned how to point our feet and do a jump just like we were in Swan Lake. The day ended with a very competitive battle of freeze dance in which the winners got stickers. (Of course we all won for being just that good).

I never said a single word the entire time I was in the class. In fact, I don’t think I ever even smiled. Then I got in the car to go home and unleashed all my thoughts. I never wanted to leave, I had loved it. My mom said that she had never heard me talk so much about anything.

This first dance class changed my entire life in the best way possible.

Now, sixteen years later and I have still continued dancing. I went from dancing at that studio to becoming a member of the dance company, Denton City Contemporary Ballet, which allowed me to dance in festivals and do all sorts of performances I never would have dreamed of doing. I became exposed to various styles of dance such as contemporary, modern, jazz, and my favorite, tap.

I struggled as I got my first pair of pointe shoes. Every night I had to ice my feet due to blisters and loss of toenails. From my knees down I was bruised from working so hard. Bandaids, baby powder, and lamb's wool became regular things on my grocery list. Terms such as “toe spacers” and “foot undies” became used in my everyday vocabulary.

Then I joined my high school drill team. Leaving the dance company to becoming involved in my school dance program was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I never regretted it however, because it helped my dance knowledge expand even more. I learned how to “hook up to kick” and “guide towards the center” while I danced. Terms such as “blades” and “candlesticks” became useful in everyday conversation.

Hats and boots were now my most prized possessions in the world.

Dancing was my entire life. It consumed every part of me and gave me a sense of identity. I was no longer just the shy and quiet girl who wanted to go home every second of her day. I was a girl who danced. I was confident and proud. And better than that, I was surrounded by people just like me. Every girl I danced with loved it and cherished it just as much as I did and that was the number one thing that I will forever be grateful to dance for.

Dancing opens up your world to a community of people who are all so different and yet all share one common bond. Nothing comes close to the kinds of friendships you make while dancing together. It allows you to be surrounded with all sorts of different people who, at the end of the day, will understand just how much you love to dance because they love it too.

Dancing let me become someone who I have never been so proud to become due to surrounding me with people who too only want to dance. A good dance friend of mine once said, “to only dance with your heart” and that is something that I find myself doing every single day.