Walking slowly through the bustling, yet monotone hallways of what is supposed to be an eclectic college environment, I feel distant from the sea of students who surround me. I don’t belong in their cliques and I have nothing to offer in their conversations; I am alone. I don’t consider myself depressed or socially awkward, but ever since I became a small fish in this great pond, I have had an empty feeling. This drawback of becoming more comfortable stems from the absence of dance in my life.
I have spent the majority of my life pursuing the art of jazz dance. When I first started dancing, at around 4 years old, I was enrolled in a variety of classes to see which style best suited me. I enjoyed the structure and precision of ballet, and the constant movement paired with the clicking sound of tap, but I truly appreciated the freedom that came along with the jazz style. I was instantly attracted to the Broadway, flashy feel of jazz. Over the years, however, my parents kept me enrolled in ballet courses in order to maintain a strong technical foundation. I feel that this technique has aided in my leaps, turns, and flexibility. I know that my powerful and sharp movements in jazz are greatly supported by my firm background in ballet technique. Nevertheless, I have realized that I took much more from my weekly classes than purely good technique and performing experience.
Being enrolled in several jazz classes provided me with a security blanket. Outside of school, I had found something that made me feel comfortable and needed. Although we weren’t a traditional sports team, my fellow dancers and I depended on each other and truly fed off of each other’s strengths. Unlike sitting in a tiresome political science class, dance class made me feel energized. I know now that I was always learning without even knowing it; I actually looked forward to going to class. For fourteen years, I went to the same dance studio, saw the same instructors, and rehearsed with the same dancers. The certainty of having this getaway multiple times a week allowed me to branch out from my peers at school. Instead of having academia to rely on, I had something special in common with the people at my studio. I liked being accepted by people who I deemed talented, and for my whole life, this is where I was most comfortable. I developed both as a dancer and as a individual through my years at The Modesto Dance Academy.
In our bustling, competing world that always seems to be centered on the economy, politics, and reputation, reverting back to the body and dance is the way I learned to keep sane. I know that in the year since I have stopped rehearsing jazz, I have felt unbalanced and unconfident. My college experience has been incomplete and somewhat empty without my jazz security blanket. I believe that jazz dance is a powerful performing art that allows us to have control on and off the stage.