Column: Speaking through movement

‘I dance as if it’s my last time, because my body won’t be able to keep up and at some point, it will be my last.’


"At the end of the day I may walk out of the studio with bruises on my legs and pain all over my body, but it’s worth it." Courtesy of Mario Velazquez.

“Dance isn’t a sport.”

“You’re wasting your time.” 

“You’ll never make a good living out of dance.”

Oh what it’s like to be a dancer and hear people critique your passion on a regular basis.

An entire world lies behind the performances the audience witness. They only see what happens on the stage, but they’re unaware of the countless rehearsal hours and thousands of dollars a year spent on costumes, shoes, competitions and conventions just to spend a couple minutes on stage.

Dance is more than sparkly costumes and tutus. Before those are even thought of, dancers go through hours of grueling rehearsals, technique and conditioning classes. 

Not to mention the injuries which are ignored so we can continue dancing. Broken toes, dislocated knees and pulled muscles all contribute to the constant pain. They don’t see the dancers backstage attempting to KT tape their bodies so they can make it to the end of competition. 

“But to me, it’s my entire life. Those few minutes of dancing help me focus on that and only that. To forget any negative aspect of my life.” Courtesy of Mario Velazquez.

From the outside, it simply looks like movements accompanying the music. But behind every step is a purpose, a meaning only the people dancing can understand. No words can describe the feelings which go through your body when you’re dancing; it’s true euphoria.

It’s mentally and physically exhausting to keep up with dance. After walking off stage, my chest feels tight, my legs shake and I want to lie down and cry. The sorrowful expression on my face cannot be faked; a genuine pain is felt when I’m dancing a solo or a contemporary routine.

To them, it’s something as simple as practicing a little and then stepping on a stage.

To them, it’s just a hobby.

But to me, it’s my entire life. In these moments, I am lost in the movement of dance. I leave the negativity of my life behind. It’s my way of self-expression; my way of letting all my feelings out instead of keeping them bottled up.

At age 3, my mom enrolled me in dance classes, unaware of the impact it would have on my life. She wanted a way to keep her overactive child entertained. From then on, I slowly began falling in love with the sport.

As the years passed, I kept adding more and more dance classes to my schedule until I physically could not do more. I worked myself up to 20 hours a week, while attempting to balance a social life and attending school full time.

At the age of 12, my stress was through the roof. I was sleeping for less than four hours a day, I was crying because of the injuries and I reached a point where I didn’t enjoy going to dance anymore.

So I quit. I stopped going to dance for a couple months, but at the time, there was one thing I didn’t realize; the pain of not being at dance was far greater than the one I experienced because of the stress.

I forced myself to go back to dance and truly enjoy and pay attention in classes. Soak up every second and every correction my teachers gave me because that’s the only way I can grow and become better every day.

At the end of the day, I may walk out of the studio with bruises on my legs and pain all over my body, but it’s worth it.

So here I am. Thirteen years later. Still rhinestoning costumes and dancing every second I can, because sooner or later I won’t be able to.

I dance as if it’s my last time, because my body won’t be able to keep up and, at some point, it will be my last.