Solitary Journey Emily Wilkes: a student ballerina

Emily Wilkes is a sophomore at Elon University, a private university located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Emily was classically trained at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, Illinois. As Emily ties her pointe shoes, she thinks back on all the different types of dance she has taken since she started dancing twelve years ago; ballet and pointe were always her favorite.
Growing up as a dancer meant Emily has always been busy. She rushes from school to dance rehearsal, often getting dressed in the car and quickly stretching before dance class starts. After class Emily drives straight home to finish her homework, with the little energy she has left.
“Although I was often too busy to spend time with friends or relax after school, I never minded because all I ever wanted to do was dance.” - Emily Wilkes
Emily came into college with enthusiasm, drive, and the dream of being a professional dancer. From the start, Emily struggles with the intensive program and the long hours that accompany it. Her class schedule consists of rehearsals, technique classes, additional practices after class, and Elon’s core curriculum classes.
The pressures of balancing dance and academics become emotionally and physically draining for Emily. What used to be her creative safe haven becomes a stressful inconvenience. As her workload expands, Emily’s love of dance begins to diminish, for the first time in her life.
Under the crushing pressure to keep up with her classmates in and out of the studio, Emily feels her motivation to be a professional dancer slipping. She realizes, life as a professional ballerina is no longer her dream.
Emily looses sight of what her end goal is and decides to quit dance altogether, too afraid of how her failure will be received by her peers. Emily drops out of the dance program entirely, completely cutting ties with her teachers and classmates.
Without dance, Emily’s life lacks structure and instead of feeling relief from her new-found freedom, Emily feels empty. Again, she feels trapped by her choices.
Emily longs for the feeling of escape that dance always gave her. She misses the feelings of power and tranquility that came with each step. After a month of completely giving up dance, Emily puts her pointe shoes back on and performs an old dance routine for herself.
Emily is immediately flooded with feelings of nostalgia and spends an hour going over her favorite steps and routines. After dancing, Emily stretches out her sour muscles that ache from not using them for a month.
After a single hour of practice, Emily experiences the familiar throbs of her swollen feet as she takes off her pointe shoes. Emily welcomes the pain as a reminder of when she first fell in love with pointe. In that moment, Emily realizes she cannot completely give up dance, and she decides to find a way to fit dance back into her life.
Emily enrolls in dance classes for her spring semester at Elon, declaring herself as a dance minor.
Created By
Susie Moore

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