I talk a lot about my writing on here (I’m mean… I want to grow up someday and become a writer or do something with writing and media, so I guess it makes sense), but I’ve never really shared about dance. My first love ever. The way I first learned how to put my heart on display. My team.
So here it is.
I grew up dancing. It was something my sister did, and I don’t even think I asked to sign up for it—my mom just threw me in there. I’m glad she did.
Dance was sort of just an activity for me until I was in sixth or seventh grade—that’s when the gross, intense love affair began. I poured myself over YouTube videos with amazing dancers, I danced in my yard and in the teeny tiny section of tile floor in my living room, I saw dances in my head as I listened to music. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing moves and started being moved.
And then I went to college, and started on this dance team that was nothing but DII Open eighth place at NDA nationals. We didn’t really have a ton of skills and we didn’t really have a ton of technique. But we had a lot of heart—we had a lot of girls who weren’t just doing moves, but being moved. At the end of that first year we were second place.
We became the kind of team that went to the gym together, that could run an eight-minute mile and had lines from muscle definition down the sides of our legs. We became the kind of team that never stopped pushing and that could do a lot of pirouettes and that had really high leaps. But maybe we’d lost our heart. I think somewhere on our journey that second year we started just doing moves again, and things started to unravel and I started to fall out of love.
At the end of that year our coach gave up. He left the school, he left (what was left of) us all alone with our hands shaking and our eyes closed and our stomachs in knots because we didn’t know how to lead a team alone. And so we stopped moving altogether.
This final year new people have joined us, and we’ve started moving again. People have come back to us. And we’ve learned that if we get knocked down the only thing that keeps us there is if we stop moving.
My team got the choreography for our nationals routine this weekend. For anyone who doesn’t compete at the national level in college (dance or cheer), I can tell you this: choreography is like trying to hold yourself up when just the tips of your fingers are gripping the ledge. What makes it is if you believe the tips of your fingers are enough.
A few counts of eight into the dance. Our formation changes. My favorite line of the song is coming, and I look to my right and to my left.
The three girls I started this journey with.
And then it hit me.
And it hit them, too. I could feel my tears coming. Sophie started crying. Michaela’s eyes were red. Ericka was looking between us all.
I’m so thankful for them all, because this year I’m not doing moves—I’m being moved.