1700 seats, 3 teachers, 2 weeks, 1 unforgettable performance.
As I am sure most people know, I am a ballet dancer. I dance at the Grand Rapids Ballet School almost 20 hours (sometimes more) per week. Most of my Friday nights are spent rehearsing for ballet performances and Saturdays are the days I reserve for more classes and more rehearsals.
This past weekend, I was a part of something magical, and something that brought perspective and clarity into my life; I performed Peter Pan at the Frauenthal Theatre in Muskegon.
Someone once told me that success and happiness are not a destination, but a journey. She said that success isn’t something that can be cumulated into one single moment. Success is an accomplishment throughout a multitude of challenges and dedication. But for this weekend, I would have to disagree. I felt all of my success cumulated into one final moment, one final bow, in front of one full audience. This weekend, I experienced something full of such clarity and something that I wish everyone, once in their life, had a chance to feel: true, pure, absolute happiness.
You could say my Saturday morning started out like every other. I woke up at 9:00 AM and went to the studio for a 10:00 AM class. After class, we loaded the bus and began driving to Muskegon. The ride was full of laughter and for most, there weren’t any signs of nerves or anxiety. Upon arriving at the theater, the next few hours were spent full of intense preparation and determination.
About an hour before the show started, I was shown to my dressing room. It was small, filled with bright and twinkling lights, and titled “The Star Dressing Room.” Over the next hour, I braided my hair, put on makeup, and went backstage to prepare.
From that first second I stepped onstage, I felt a sense of pride and tranquility. I don’t think that there is any amount of preparation that can truly capture the essence of performing live onstage. My performance was anything but flawless, but once I came off the stage, I don’t think there was a single thing that could have brought me down.
All the happiness collected from throughout the performance was cumulated at my final bow. Running out onto the stage, with an audience bursting with applause, and beams of light glimmering across the stage, I couldn’t help but smile. My heart was happy and I felt the heat of excitement fill my body like the way scorching hot fire brings warmth on a freezing, snowy day.
And in that exact moment, I was the happiest I have ever been. In that exact moment, everything seemed to be put into perspective; and in that exact moment, I realized that no matter what people say, success can be a destination. As the curtain closed on a cast of jubilant dancers, with the audience praising “Bravo,” it was hard to see how life could get much better than that.
For as long as I can remember, my ultimate dream has been to become a professional ballerina. I have been constantly told that in order to achieve my dream, it takes long hours of practice and hardship. Throughout our entire lives, we work towards that one moment of success, that one moment of triumph and accomplishment. This is one of the reasons I love ballet. Each and every day brings a new destination to work for, and once you reach that particular moment, you find something new to work on. For that reason, I don’t agree that life is a journey and not a destination; because, I love what I do and I love finding new goals to strive toward. I love finding new destinations to conquer and overcome.
This weekend I came to the realization that this is why I do what I do. This is why I spend the long hours working on all of the same things. This is why I dance. I dance to find that one moment of unadulterated happiness and to feel the warmth of pride inside my chest. I dance to conquer each destination and because I love it more than anything in the entire world.