Do you remember me telling you about my amazing dance teacher? Well, here she is!
My name is Gwen.
Dancing makes me who I am, it defines me as an individual. I am not the typical professional dancer story. I haven't been dancing since I was in diapers, and I didn't really even know what ballet was until I came into middle school. But I did frequently prance around on my tip toes as a child, so it did not come as a surprise to my parents when at age 14 I told them I wanted to sign up for a ballet class. I had been going through a tough time, beyond the usual teen angst and rebellion. I was going down a destructive path. One night, during the summer that I turned 14, my girlfriends and I had managed to get someone's older brother to buy us some beer. So as we drank and began to get silly, I found my friend's old pointe shoes in her room and decided to put them on and put on a little show. It started out as a joke but I soon found myself not wanting to take off the pointe shoes... and thus an obsession began.
It can only be fate that not long after this night a woman named Miss Julie opened a dance studio next door to my parents' office. It didn't take me long to muster up the courage to walk in and sign up for a class. It started with one ballet class, then a jazz class, then another ballet class, and another... and before long I was dancing every night of the week and in 3 or 4 classes a night. I had a lot of catching up to do! All of these girls had been dancing since they were 3. And here I am, wandering into the studio lacking the 10 years of experience these girls had on me. But the obsession continued, I wanted so badly to be a master of this craft. I wanted to dance. The way it made (and still makes) my soul sing was incredible, it was a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment that I had never felt before.
Dancing made me feel invincible and able to take on anything, and I still carry that passion with me and apply it to everything that I do to this day.
As the years went by, I had no time to focus on the destructive things I had been doing before I found dance. My classes and my constant "homework" of stretching and studying techniques, along with my school classes and homework, kept me so busy that I didn't have time for much else. And I loved it!! I still do. My journey continued through high school and college. I was told that I would probably never make it to a professional level, simply because I was lacking the years of practice and knowledge. But these doubts only fueled my fire, and I told myself there was no other option...
I WOULD be a dancer. Somewhere, somehow
So I competed in dance through high school and was incredibly successful, consistently earning top scores and placing in the overalls. My next accomplishment was college. I was elated to have been accepted to the University of Missouri Kansas City dance conservatory. Again, when I came to college, I heard that I might never make it as a professional. But after being accepted to a number of top notch ballet summer intensives throughout college, and then in my senior year was accepted to dance in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's summer intensive, I knew that I had finally reached my goal. My dreams were coming into fruition as I graduated college and began to audition for dance companies around the US.
I landed here in Denver a year and a half ago. I picked up everything in my life, I left all of my friends and family behind, and I began my journey as a professional dancer with a woman here in Colorado named Kim Robards. The last year, aside from a few bumps and lumps, was one of the best years of my life. I am a professional dancer, performing on stage and being paid to do it. I am a successful full time dance teacher for kids who compete like I did, and I have established myself in Denver by making new friends and professional connections. Had I believed all the people who told me that I couldn't be a dancer, I never would have found this happiness. I pushed myself, I worked hard, I cried, I laughed. I met amazing people who I am lucky enough to call my friends, I have seen amazing cities I never would have seen. I learned things about myself that I never knew. I have the drive, power, and confidence to do anything I want... all thanks to dance.
Dancing saved my life, and made me into the person that I am proud to call myself today.