My parents have always given me every opportunity to pursue my interests. Whether it was school, skating, soccer, art, swimming, volleyball, music, dance, or more recently pageants; I was always encouraged to try something new. Through the years, I discovered which activities allowed me to hone in my talents.
When I was four years old, I began dancing ballet. Once a week, my mom and I would commute 30 mins to a small dance studio in Laguna, Philippines. I dreamt of becoming a prima ballerina and wearing those infamous pointe shoes; I loved dancing. I continued dancing at the same studio until my family immigrated to Canada when I was six years old. My love for dance had to be put on hold for a few years, while my family adjusted to our new lives.
In the fall of 2005, I enrolled in a ballet class at the Walnut Grove School of Music and Dance; the first class of many in the years to come. I remember that Tuesdays were always my favourite days, as that was the day of my ballet class. There was just something about dance that I loved ever since I was a little girl. Maybe it was the way the it let me express myself without using words, or maybe the way it allowed me to get lost in the music and escape my world, even just for a little while.
Over the years, I racked up countless hours in the studio; expanding my repertoire to Hip Hop, Lyrical, and Ballet – eventually earning those coveted pointe shoes. I danced in numerous RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Exams, recitals, and competitions. I earned a number of medals, collected a plethora of beautiful costumes, and lost even more bobby pins.
Although, dance dominated my time during elementary school, and the better part of high school, it gave more than it took. Dance class taught more than just how to point my toes, and do pirouettes – it taught me to be accepting of constructive criticism, and to pay attention to the details. Dance taught me correct posture, and how to project my emotions to an audience. It taught me to be confident, to always perform as big as possible. My dance teacher always said that walking on stage would be the hardest thing a dancer would do; she could never be more right.
This past week, I returned to my old dance studio, and volunteered at their Student Appreciation Days/ 20th Anniversary celebrations at their three locations in Walnut Grove, Guildford, and White Rock. There were feelings of nostalgia, as I saw my dance teachers, walked down the halls of the studio, and watched as younger students danced in the place I called my second home. In three days, I was able to give back a little to a place that has already given so much to me.
Even today, years after I hung up my dance shoes for the last time, my dedication to dance continues to reap rewards. Thank you so much Walnut Grove School of Music and Dance for teaching me valuable lessons that are applicable beyond the walls of the studio, and thank you for sponsoring part of my trip to Nationals in July.
-Miss Teenage Surrey 2016