Monday, June 21, 2010

by me, beside me.

Recital 2005: 'Last Dance.'

Five years ago, I was at my dancing peak. I had classes at least three days a week, though that number grew as we approached summer, our competitions and our recital. I remember sitting in our studio and finding a friendship with a 13-year-old girl. Because a lot of the girls in my class went to high school together, sometimes it was hard being the girl from private school. Dance class became social hour and all the day’s drama was dished. I loved these girls, there’s no doubt about it; occasionally, though, I felt left out.

Julianne, Shirley and I, rehearsals for Recital 2005.

I befriended that 13-year-old, Julianne, for many reasons. Not only were we out of the high school drama loop, but we were both passionate about dance. We took stretching seriously, worked on parts of the dance we hadn’t perfected yet, and learned choreography quickly. She was obviously amazing; being the youngest in the group by at least three years, she out-danced a good number of them.

Dress rehearsal for Proud Mary.

Five years ago, after late-night rehearsals and our final show day passed, I had a conversation with Julianne, discussing her future. A huge decision weighed on her shoulders on whether or not she should continue at our dance school, the one she had been with for at least five or six years. We talked about many things – how it would affect our dance ‘family’ and what she was truly looking for – and a decision was made.

Julianne ended up switching schools, and as much as it hurt to see her leave the ‘family,’ I knew it was best for her. She grew in leaps and bounds, something I observed through Facebook videos and performances at the local street fair. Every time I saw her, she became even more amazing and inspiring. I was like a proud older sister watching her flourish the way she did.

Last weekend, I attended her final recital. Just like during my ‘graduation’ recital, she danced in routine after routine, and she stole the show every time. Her face was lit up with a bright smile or whatever emotion was needed. You could tell she was having the time of her life. When it came time for her solo, she was incredible beyond my expectation. I found myself unable to stop tears from springing to my eyes because I was so amazed and proud. It really sunk in that this wasn’t little Julianne from five years ago, but a more mature and seasoned dancer. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

After her graduate recital.

Five years seems to have flown by ridiculously fast- it was only that long ago that I stood on stage, across from this girl in a pair of pointe shoes and a shiny copper costume. And even then, I knew in my heart that she would be something great.

Recital 2005: 'Troy.' We're both in front.