Mandi Weitz - Grade 8, Ascension School
A Challenging Passion
My knees bend, then straighten as my head reaches for the ceiling and my feet dig into the floor. The music surges through me. My muscles ache, and I long to rest, but I take a deep breath and continue. I love dancing, but it does take some work - physically and emotionally, and this past year, as I advanced in ballet, this really challenged me. For the past four years, I have taken classes at Dayton Ballet, and this past year, I moved up to level IV. While I was excited to be moving up to the second-highest level, I was also nervous. Most of my friends were staying in level III, and I would be taking a more challenging class. When the first day came, my worries were confirmed. Without knowing anyone, I was extremely lonely and uncomfortable. In addition, most of the combinations were a lot harder, and many of the girls were much better than me. When it came time to put on our pointe shoes, I was completely humiliated. Since this was basically my first year dancing en pointe, I could hardly do any of these advanced steps. When the class was over, I was completely discouraged. Feeling I just wasn't ready, I wanted to give up. However, I knew that I'd never get better if I didn't keep trying. My love for dance kept me going. Watching the other girls and dreaming of how good I could be motivated me even more. So with a mental pep talk and support from my family, I began to enjoy the challenge. Within a few months, I was dancing alongside everyone else. Although this was a huge accomplishment, I had another problem besides the difficulty of the class: time. Moving up in ballet took a lot of commitment, especially since I'd been accepted into the Junior Company. I now had to take at least three classes each week, which was six hours! That meant I had to miss out on several sports and clubs. Then there was always the large load of homework each night. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist, but between dance, homework, and other activities, I was up past midnight on more than several occasions. Even now, as I stick a band-aid on a blistered toe or finish up a worksheet when it's well past bedtime, I sometimes wonder if it's really worth it. But when I'm dancing, I know in my heart that it is. It's now a new year, and as I look back, I'm glad I stayed positive and stuck with it. I'm now a lot stronger and more confident in myself and my dancing. Through this experience, I also realized how much I love to dance. It is and will always be a part of me, even if I don't continue it in the years to come. I now believe when you come across a challenge, you shouldn't give up. It may take you places you never expected to go.