The Dancer in me

I started dancing as soon as I could walk. I was always spinning and jumping around the hallways. When I was about 2 a family friend put me in my first dance class... Well, that was the start. When I was about 3 I was in my very first ballet, Cinderella. The leading role of the pumpkin that sat on staged and watched. Haha. From there I started doing the recitals every couple of months. Then came the nutcracker! Wow did I do that ballet a LOT!

I did a few other shows with Alabama Ballet before I decided I wanted to go to Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) for Dance, this was around 3rd grade. ASFA was a public school (7th -12th grade) where you had to audition to get into your specific specialty. We had 6; Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts, Music, Creative Writing and Math & Science. Auditions were in 3 steps and brought in kids from all over the world. First, you had to send in a resume and standard dance photos. Then you had a formal dance audition and finally, you had an interview. Wow was I so nervous this whole time! I remember one day in 6th grade my parents came to my school and pulled me out. I swore I was in trouble and didn't want to go out of the class to see them. Once I finally went to talk to them they handed me a letter. I opened to find out I was 1 of 3 girls to be accepted for my 7th-grade year. Now, this school was small, the dance department maybe has 60 kids in it. It was nice to have the teachers know us really well and get support when we needed it. ASFA was very strict - you had to keep certain grades in your academics as well as your specialty. Which kept us moving and grooving each day because slacking wasn't an option.

My schedule was packed full. I lived about 45 mins away from school if there was no traffic. If there was, it could take me an hour sometime almost 2 hours to get to school... So I would wake up about 6 am and leave the house around 615am, school started at 7:45 am. We started the day by having all our academic classes and then around 1 pm, our specialty classes would start. We had 2, hour and a half classes a day, either Ballet, Pointe, Modern, African, or Jazz. After classes, we would have rehearsals until about 7 pm. Then I still had to get home, do my homework, do my chores, say hi to my family, eat and sleep. Then wake up and repeat. Once the shows were close we would also have 10am-2pm Saturday rehearsals.

As soon as I turned 16 and get my drivers license, I did! It absolutely helped the family to not have to make those long drives every day and I could pick up groceries on the way home. That extra time driving alone was amazing. It was my "me time". Which I needed for sure, most of the time I was blasting music and dancing around. Like I wasn't already dancing enough. I loved driving that little Mazda truck. It was an old construction truck, so when I reversed it made that loud *BEEP BEEP BEEP* sound. There was a button in the bed that would turn it off. But of course, my friends would always switch it on. It also made backing out of parking spots quite funny to watch everyone's reaction.

One of the main things that kept me going each day at ASFA was in our senior year, you had to choreograph a piece. I had my eye on it from the beginning of my ASFA journey. I thought it was so cool that we got put working with our friends, experience creating content, pick our music, put it on a stage, pick our costumes and our lights, then we people came to see it. Every year leading up it was the most intense audition to get cast in these shows. We all worked so hard to make them amazing. Then my senior year came around. It hit me... I had to pick and decide all these different things. It is a bit different being the, not the performer. So rehearsals got moving along. I had a bigger cast than most - 8 dancers. I don't remember the exact concept but it was based around you not having to fit into anyone's box - you can be whomever you want. So I had 2 male dancers, 2 dancers on pointe, 2 modern dancers and 2 other dancers who moved back and forth between modern and ballet movement. As the piece went on the ballet and modern movement started to become similar as the dancers realized they can all do movement together. It was so much fun watching the thoughts in my head come alive on stage. About 2 weeks before the show, one of my male dancers injured his shoulder. We had a lot to change and fast. It really shows you how dancers can come together and use their brains! It ended up being such an incredible experience and I still have flashbacks to the rehearsal process where I just start laughing.

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