We could sense that all of the lasts were getting to her. She would be leaving the safe space of high school. She had been in school with some of the other kids since second grade. She would also be leaving behind the escape zone of the dance studio. In the studio she can block everything out and just dance. It’s a difficult adjustment and it weighed on her.
We have been going to the studio’s Christmas show every December and every year-end Recital in June since 2006. It has been a joy to watch her dance all these years. As a six-year-old Jessica was like most six-year-olds, tentative about dancing in front of the audience. She and the other dancers very carefully performed their steps. Those dances were cute to watch. Jessica worked this year at the studio teaching dance to the little ones.
Each year her dancing improved. The more she learned the better she got, the more confidence she gained, and she developed a real passion for dance. Nothing got in the way of dance – school, boys, work -nothing. After two years of cheering in high school, Jessica told us she wanted to stop because cheering was interfering with dance. As much as Jessica loved cheering, dance was her first love.
Jessica took ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop – I don’t know what else-outside of ballet and tap I can’t tell the difference! Tap dancing is tap dancing, it’s nice, the tapping is cool when the dancers are all in sync. But ballet, I loved to watch her ballet performances. Jessica is a tall young lady with the long arms and legs of a dancer. Watching as she seemingly floated across the floor with graceful arm and leg movements was beautiful. Her grace and elegance on the dance floor always surprised me because Jessica is the type that will fall up stairs and will frequently trip on nothing. I took many photographs of her dancing and the pictures show an intense concentration and focus. The pictures also showed just how much she joy she got from dancing.
Her last recital was last weekend. Jessica’s final dance was a ballet with three other students. She certainly saved her best for last. It was one of the most captivating performances I have ever seen. The grace and elegance of dancers, and the intensity of the dance was incredible. As I watched, I began to tear up, it was that beautiful. It was a proud mom and dad moment to see our daughter give such a breathtaking performance.
College is next for Jessica. I know she is looking forward to it, but there is always that little bit of apprehension of beginning something new. She’s a good kid, and she is much tougher than she gives herself credit for (she gets the toughness from her mom.) I know she’ll be fine but I also know that I won’t be able to convince her of that. My hope is that if and when she finds herself feeling overwhelmed at school, she can find a quiet place to dance and put herself at ease.