This I Believe

Natalie - Salt Lake City, Utah
Entered on December 28, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity

This, I believe

My belief is that dance is the gift that keeps on giving! This belief originated in the lush, green and grand Emerald Isle, also the birth place of Leprechauns, St. Patrick, Guinness, and of course, Irish Dance. My belief was the belief of many before me and I am simply keeping this timeless tradition, rich in culture, thriving. Dance has taught me more lessons then I ever thought I could learn and taken me places I never dreamt of going.

The whole notion of Irish Dance started when my Grandpa, Irish born and raised, suggested the idea to me. The concept of step dance was very foreign but I decided it was worth a shot. The next thing I knew I was at my first lesson. I started dance 8 years ago as a scrawny and timid 7 year old with tweety-bird shorts, braided pig-tails, and dorky glasses. Now, I am a toned, disciplined, and aggressive championship dancer…with tweety-bird shorts and dorky glasses.

When I tell people I’m an Irish Dancer I’m usually replied with the frequently presented comparison “Do you mean like Riverdance?” followed by the dropped jaw stare of wonderment, as I like to call it. I just reply “ Yes. Exactly like Riverdance.” But in fact, its much more then what Michael Flatley makes it out to be. It takes practice, confidence, determination, discipline, and teamwork. It takes full days of totally immersing yourself in dance. Then, the next morning getting out of bed and having every bone from the waist down pop so loud it could be mistaken for gun fire! Don’t get me wrong, it has its up sides too. Having that indescribable feeling of satisfaction when you master a new step. Or, walking away from a competition with handfuls of trophies and medals and a “job well done” from my toughest critic, myself.

But, the greatest reward I can get in dance comes from sharing my dancing with others. I’ve performed for crowds of thousands of people in large convention centers who are in awe of the fancy footwork; and for 15 senior citizens in a retirement home who cant wait to stop me on the way back to their rooms to tell me about when they were young and would partake in their cultures native dances. The highest level of gratification I can receive is knowing I cheered someone up or helped a person remember fondly of their past times. There is no greater gift in the world for me to receive, and all I have to do to give a gift, is do what I live for.

Dance has made me strong, confident, and given me a life long talent. My goal is be a positive influence for younger dancers who look up to me, and to take the qualities that I’ve learned through my experiences and apply them to the rest of my life. But most of all, to share my talent with others, and hope dance, the gift that keeps on giving, will affect someone the way it has affected me.