I'm from an island all made up of grass, my great grandfather was part of its past. Irish music and dancing all through the streets, people nodding and stomping to the beat. The people who live there are freckled and blond, when I am there I feel a tight bond. Togetherness, that's where I'm from, where people are proud to be one.
My great grandpa's old house; from when we visited Ireland this summer.
‘Gift of God’ and ‘strong fighter.’ Madison. Like stepping out of a warm building into a world of brisk breeze. Strong but gentle. Loud but quiet. Like a short story that you're interested in at the beginning but get bored of at the end. A knife that isn't quite sharp enough to cut through your apple; a sloppy train conductor who doesn't slow down before he stops. A giant name for a tiny person. Madison. Oxymoron. So, Maddie.
My sisters, Darcy and Hayley, and me on our way to NYC.
Lori’s. The place I grew up in. The backyard with the swings and the octopus and the slide. The playroom inside with the fake kitchens and fake pie. The construction paper littered all through the house. Cheerios being brought to the little baby’s mouths. Leaving this place and all the toys and kids. Sippy cups with their colorful lids.
So I'll move on to middle school, no longer with this babysitter, this woman who devotes her whole life to making others’ better. I will see new places. Teachers, students, and other faces.
Goodbye, Lori, see you soon. So now I'm off. Vroom, vroom.
From left to right: Matthew Friedman, me, and Caroline Revich in Lori's living room!
My full name is Madison Elizabeth Tyler. I live in White Plains, New York, with my mom, dad, sister, and dog. I am fourteen years old. I have a bookcase in my room, but instead of being full of books, it's full of dance shoes. I used to not be able to do a plié, now I can do a grande jété. I used to be inflexible, now I am flexible. I used to be shy, now I am confident. It is true that I love to dance. It is true that I do not like to be bad at something that I love. I like to be sure of myself. Do you know what I mean? I like to do what the dance teacher tells me, and attempt to execute it perfectly, as ballerinas do. My story starts long before I entered ninth grade at Mamaroneck High School. February of 2016, I left my comfort zone and started in a new ballet class. Harder dance moves, new teacher, and new friends. But, I wanted to do it for how big my passion is for this art form. No matter how challenging it would be.
My first pointe shoe fitting.
The strong tree sprouting through the concrete of a massive city. The place I hope to dance for when I'm older; America's official ballet company. Drawing me in; leading me to heaven on earth. Filled with angels; all the people I love, leaping through the air with their bright wings fluttering gracefully behind them.
At the ABT audition this February.
“So, we got an email today…” my mom says.
“Oh jeez, is that good or bad?” I ask.
“It's good, it's good,” she says mysteriously, grabbing her computer from the counter and logging on.
“Can you tell me?” I plead.
“Maybe you should read it, first,” my mom encourages. I slide the laptop across the table to where I'm sitting.
After I read it, I'm in shock. “Wait, what?!” I exclaim. “ABT wants me to come to their NYC intensive this summer?!”
The American Ballet Theater is one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the US. I had auditioned about three weeks before, and had only gotten into their Texas location for the summer intensive. This email was informing me that a spot had opened up in their New York City summer intensive, and they wanted to know if I was interested in attending.
“So you want to go?” my mom asks.
“Uhhh… YEAH!” I scream. I can't contain my excitement.
I can't wait for this summer.
ENCYCLOPEDIA - Letter M
Mascara. When I was younger up until now, everyone would always ask me if I was wearing mascara. The answer is no. I rarely wear makeup, unless I have a dance performance. It's kind of weird though, because no one else in my family has the long, curly lashes that I have. Where did I get them from? We may never know.
On the beach in Cape Cod, August 2008 (still got those lashes!)
Misty Copeland. She is one of my biggest idols. She is the first African American principal dancer at ABT. Her memoir was one of the only books I've actually been interested in. She is a strong, dedicated, hard working woman who gets what she wants no matter how hard she has to fight for it, and I respect her greatly for that.
Mom. Does this one even need an explanation?
Music. Without music, my life would be so different. I listen to music in the shower, I listen to music in the car, and music is a neccessity for dance classes and rehearsals. Music has helped to shape my life.
How do the pieces capture you and your story?
All the pieces in this multi-genre narrative show the things that are important to me. My heritage, my past, and of course, dance. My life has many parts, and this project is all of those in a nutshell. I chose stories that show my biggest accomplishments, favorite moments, milestones, and memories.
How do the pieces relate to one another?
Building off of my accomplishments, all my life, I have had special people to help me achieve these great things and piece together my life. Starting with my great grandfather leaving Ireland, all these important people helped to shape who I am. Lori, my family, and my dance teachers (who aren't mentioned in this project but have greatly impacted my life) all have created great memories that I would not trade for anything else. All these stories relate to each other because they talk about the people who have helped me grow and live my life to the fullest.
What did they help you understand about yourself, your life, and/or the world around you?
These short excerpts of my life helped me to realize that I am fortunate to have people that support me in everything I do. For example, my mom and family helped me with the ABT audition and making the right decision about whether or not to go. Lori also supported me and my family and many family friends throughout my childhood and is still a prominent figure in my life. These stories made me notice that people in the world around me are more generous and caring than they may seem.