Dance By Shannon Mullaney

When I was 3 years old, I wanted to be a dancer in a pink fluffy tutu. I begged for my mother to get me lessons, so I started dancing at age 4. I took a dance class every Tuesday, once a week.

That situation is not unusual. Almost I every girl I know has taken dance lessons at least once in their life, but very few end up sticking with it.

At age 5, I danced in my first real performance. My whole family came to watch, and I had an all-white costume with a flower crown. I loved the lights and the make up and the audience. I never had stage fright.

As I got older, I danced more and more often. I was committing myself to dance, but do to that, I had to give up certain freedoms.

There are the small things that dancers just can't do. They can't cut their hair short because they have to wear it up in a bun for class. They can’t dye your hair either because it’s unprofessional, not that I’d really want to, but if I did want to, I couldn't.

Specifically at my studio, my dance teacher doesn’t let any of her dancers ski because it hurts your knees and encourages bad turnout. I really like skiing, so I do it anyway, but I can only do it in moderation because I’m always at dance.

The biggest sacrifice was my time. I spent all of my time at the studio. 9 out of 10 times my friends would invite me to do something, I would have to say, “No, sorry, I have dance.” I missed family events. I had no free time period. I would do my homework, eat dinner, and go to dance. Every day, same thing. Except Saturdays, because I usually had Saturdays off.

When I got into middle school, I began doing a lot of performances all over the state. My dance teacher would regularly ask me, “Can you do an event next Wednesday? There’s an event this week, can you dance at it?” I liked doing them, and I don’t remember ever saying no. Some were in support of good causes, like patients and survivors of Breast cancer, Alzheimer's, and other sicknesses. I also did assembles at elementary schools all over RI. I danced at coffee hours, nursing homes, malls, country clubs, hotels, and places all over Providence, indoors and out. You name it, I’ve probably danced there.

Because of those performances, I missed school constantly. I was absent so many times in both 6th and 7th grade that the school kept sending letters to my house requesting a meeting with my parents regarding their concern about my unexcused absences and my grades. My parents would’ve never let me miss all those school days if it was causing my grades to fall. I was still maintaining high honors despite my absences, so my parents ignored the letters.

I didn’t realize the full extent of how much I was giving up for dance because I had grown up dancing. I never really knew life without it, so it was normal to me.

Around October of this year, 8th grade, I injured my foot. I was in a boot for 10 weeks. In that time, I saw my life from a different perspective. I still went to the studio for 4 hours on Fridays and Sundays to watch and learn choreography, but the rest of my time was clear. I actually had free time for once. I didn’t have to always rush around, and I had time to hang out with my friends.

As nice as those 10 weeks were, I wouldn't quit dance for anything. Even though I have to sacrifice a lot to dance, I love doing it and I’m gaining so much from it, so it’s always going to be worth it in the end. To take, you have to give.

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shannon

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