I don’t recall exactly what made me decide to purchase a ticket to one of PNB’s Friday Night Previews but what I do remember is how it made me feel. While it was a brilliant experience to watch professional dancers for the first time all I could think was, I know this. The smell of sweat, the squeaks and thumps their shoes made as they moved, the sound of their labored breathing was all so familiar to me. It was strange given I’d never even seen a ballet much less set foot in a studio before.
A strong need to dance overtook me and I began classes there which immediately became my weekly highlight. I purchased my first pair of ballet slippers and found both me and my striped tights welcomed in an encouraging environment I desperately needed to be in. From the moment I laid my hand on the barre I felt a calm settle over me that I had never known before and by the end of class I was laughing and smiling while flying through center work (and masterfully butchering it I’m certain) knowing I was exactly where I was meant to be. I never knew until that moment how much I needed to dance and it still confounds me how such a vital part of my being had been absent for so long.
So it was immensely crushing when my health suddenly decided to take a turn for the worse and I learned I wouldn’t be dancing for some time. I needed to find some way to stay connected though so I started volunteering.
I think my desperate need to stay connected comes not only from needing to be around people who understand this desire to move and dance but because this place is the very first I’ve had where I feel safe; the first place I can relax and simply enjoy being alive. I am welcomed and appreciated for being me–I don’t need to be frightened. I have never had a family or a home but I think that is what PNB and the lovely people there are becoming to me.
For the first time in my life I am not frightened. I have something to look forward to and something to live for. And every time I leave I feel happy because I know I’ll be coming back.