Sophia Doctoroff

Pleasant Valley • New York


I'd been dancing since I was four years old. Until eighth grade I attended a small studio in Hyde Park, New York. In the summer before ninth grade, I went to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's summer intensive, and when that was over I knew I had to leave my little studio, because I'd found out that I loved ballet more than anything, and I wanted to be a professional. I knew it was a steep and narrow path, but I wanted to try. I auditioned for a pre-professional school in NYC and got in. My parents arranged for me to be let out of school an hour early every day so I could get on the train and get to class on West 60th Street. Every day. Every day I took the train, including weekends, for a commute that took at least two hours door to door. After class, I'd walk to Grand Central, exhausted, and collapse into a train seat for another two hour ride. Most days I didn't get home until ten or later. Soon a terrible depression got hold of me, and anxiety ran rampant in my brain. I could never be good enough, I could never be thin enough, I wasn't getting the parts I wanted, I wasn't progressing fast enough for my teachers. After a while I started crying every day. I would cry when I got on the train to go to the city. Then I started self-harming....then I had a breakdown and my mom pulled me out of ballet because she could see that it was destroying me. I had to stop right as we were in the middle of rehearsing Balanchine's Serenade, and I couldn't dance in the end-of-year gala. I lost all my school friends because I was never around--I was always in the city. When I had to stop ballet, I lost all the friends I had there too. I was completely alone. I spent the summer after I quit alone in my room, in my bed, cutting my wrists with anything sharp I could find. Ballet was all I had, it was my whole identity, the only thing I ever loved, and it was just gone. In the blink of an eye, it was gone and I had nothing, I was empty. All I had was a gaping hole where ballet used to be, which filled up immeditately with depression, anxiety, and unhealthy obsessions. Now, I'm in my freshman year of college, about to go into my second semester. And I've registered for a ballet class. The thing that destroyed me will be the thing to heal me. It's time for closure, and after four years, I feel hopeful for the first time.