I’ve been watching her dance for thirteen years. I’ve seen her grow from a tiny cherub whose only job was to jump in time while spreading her arms into a tall, graceful beauty who performs leaps and turns that hurt my feet just to watch. A few weeks ago, we attended her last dance. She is graduating and will move on.
From the start, she loved every bit of it: the costumes, the pageantry, the art. Somewhere down the line, it got harder. She learned that perfection requires rehearsal, effort, and repetition. Over and over again they worked until pieces were performance ready. Still she loved it.
Two days a week turned into four and sometimes five. She developed muscle, then willpower to curb her diet. She fought through injuries and the pain that comes from stress and over-use. She fought to become the best dancer she could be. She became a dancer.
In times of joy, in times of grief, in times of unabashed celebration, uncertainty or pain, what does a dancer do? A dancer dances.
In losing her little sister to cancer, she proved the importance of dance. She danced through her grief. Dance became her outlet, her solace, and her comfort. She choreographed and dedicated dances to her – pushing through with silent, beautiful art.
I’ve seen her get parts she wanted and watched her handle the disappointment of losing with grace.
At her last recital, she was featured along with the other two graduating seniors in several numbers. They’ve grown up together… become best friends. I believe one of my favorite things, however, was watching her with the baby dancers she now teaches. How incredible that she is now able to pass on her passion to little girls who might perform their last dance thirteen years hence.
In the end, the three danced together as they said goodbye – beautifully mourning the end, yet rejoicing for the years together, and pointing toward the bright futures ahead. The last dance.
But a week later they were asked to repeat their final dance in a church service where it became an offering to the God who created dance. It was lovely to behold with the dark wooden beams above and the stained glass behind them. I went thinking we were lucky to get a bonus performance – a second last dance. But as I watched through tears, it dawned on me that even this isn’t the last dance… because a dancer always dances. Through it all, a dancer dances.
She will graduate high school with honors and has decided to put college on hold to focus on dance. I don’t know how I would have felt about that a few years ago. Maybe I would have thought school too important to delay. But experience has taught me that to follow a passion is far more important what this world says one should do. She has found what she loves at seventeen years old and I envy her that.
This girl of mine… she is a dancer.
And in the end, a dancer dances.