Addison • Illinois
From the day I took my first steps, my parents knew that I had rhythm. I was put in my first dance class at three and starting competing at five. I danced competitively for 12 years and even managed to be on my high school’s dance team, Orchesis for all four years. I held the titles of “Treasurer” my junior year and “President” my senior year. From the first time I stepped on stage, I was hooked. I have trained in all styles of dance by some of the best in the Chicagoland area. I am most well known for being a tap and musical theater dancer. The stage has always been my happy place. Somewhere that I was able to completely be myself and show everyone that a "Big Girl" can dance too.
All of my life, I have always been a heavier set girl. I am not your stereotypical skinny, graceful, prima ballerina. I am the big, loud, and in your face performer. The dancer that has the crowd on their feet after only 30 seconds of being on stage. I am a performer. What can I say? I steal the show and was born to entertain.
The competitive dance world can be very harsh and judgmental place. If you do not have thick skin, get some! It is all about “That Look” or “That Style” and who fits it the best. I was not given all of the same opportunities as the other girls because of my physical appearance. Instructors wanted a two piece costume and because of “my look” I was not selected for numbers that I should have been in. No one ever directly told me that, but deep down I knew that this was the underlying truth that no one had the balls to say to my face.
My parents raised me to not care what other's think, because their opinions don’t matter. “Be your bubbly and entertaining self,” is what my mom would tell me. Even though I am a strong, tough, and confident girl this somehow would get to me. I never ever said anything to anyone. I felt that if I would have said something, it would have shown that I was vulnerable and weak. I turned my anger and sadness into fuel. I worked to prove that I was just as talented as my peers and that I was unique in my own way.
I took advantage of every single opportunity that did come my way and ran with it. Since I have such a huge personality and exceptional stage presence, I was always given lead roles in musical theater numbers. Those numbers are what I am known for. People would come up to me at competitions, tell me how much they love watching me dance, and that I was a huge inspiration. For the longest time, I had a hard time figuring out why they were saying I was an “Inspiration”.
Then, one night after a performance at my high school's football game, a mom came up to me and said, "Wow! You are such an amazing dancer for a plus size girl... You, can really move! So many people have told me about you, and you truly brought tears to my eyes." I was completely caught off guard and had no words. One of my coaches then, put her hand on my shoulder as I gracefully thanked this woman for her kind words. After she left, I turned to my coach and began to cry because everything finally made sense.
I was an inspiration because I am a “Big Girl”. Dance is not about your race, size, or shape. It’s about the passion and love for the art. I would have to say that my message for all dancers is to embrace what makes you unique and to never let anyone tell you that you can’t pursue what you love. Be proud of who you are, and not ashamed of how someone else sees you. Be confident. Life's a stage, so perform.
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