Building Dreams, Climbing Mountains

There’s an old saying, “A dream is just a distant reality.” One thing I’ve learned in my training to becoming a professional dancer is that when we summon the courage to challenge ourselves, we can take our dreams just a little closer to that reality.

It’s easy to have a dream, but not everyone has the audacity to take that extra step to achieve it. People often draw back before even taking the first step, daunted by the unknown. After all, that one step could send you plunging into terrifying depths, or soaring to conquer mountains. In the moment before that first step, you don’t really know what you will find.

Six years ago, I found myself at a crossroad and I took my first steps on the path of dance. I can’t say I have conquered the mountain yet, but I’m sure I haven’t fallen off any cliffs. I don’t know if I’ll reach the highest summit, or even if I’ll ever find that peak, but I’ve gained so much, come so far.

For what it’s worth, my mother likes to think I’ve covered many mountains already. “Before you started dancing, you would trip over your own feet,” she says. “Now, you can do flips at the drop of a hat!” Fair enough.

For me, the most treacherous mountain to conquer was the aerial somersault. While my classmates made lightning progress, I could only stare as the instructor demonstrated, thinking, “Do I lift my right leg or my left leg first? How does he get his feet above his head without crashing to the floor? Why don’t his hands touch the ground?” Even when I managed to answer the questions muddling my head, my body had trouble translating understanding into action. I’d tell my right leg to kick first, but my left leg would be first to respond.

I will never forget my first successful aerial somersault. It was a Sunday afternoon. I had strewn several blue exercise mats across the battered floor of the dance studio. The last rays of sun glinted off the shiny duct tape (and sweat) that covered the rips in the mats. After hours of throwing myself on the floor, “give up” was the one coherent thought floating in the puddle that was my brain. I glowered at the black, sticky, sweaty squares of foam and asked myself, “Am I really going to give up like this?”

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