Congratulations Maecy! You essay was thoughtful and moving.
My art is who I am. Without being able to dance, I do not think that I would have the values that I have today. How do I even begin to describe something that is everything to me? To describe something that is ingrained in me? There is no person that I would rather be than who I am when I am practicing my art. Dance has not only taught me to express myself, but it has also given me traits that I value. It has taught me patience and perseverance, given me a strong work ethic, showed me how to learn quickly, how to focus deeply, and how you can work hard and push yourself to the edge while still loving what you do. I haven’t found myself yet, but dancing has brought me closer than anything else has.
I do not believe that anyone really knows who they are. Artists though, they get closer than anyone. I feel that dance is the balance between detaching yourself from your emotions and expressing them at the same time. The distance that I am able to create from my emotions to focus on what I do contributes to the work ethic that I have learned to bring into the rest of my life. If the events that I cannot control control me, my inability to do the best I can at what I am doing consumes me. Dance has taught me that however chaotic the outside world may get it cannot stop you from doing the best work you can. If you learn to detach, nothing can stop you.
At the same time though, my art has also taught me how to use those emotions that I create to bring passion into what I do. Entire detachment is boring, but if you learn to use what you feel to contribute to your goals, the journey to accomplish them becomes that much more significant and beautiful. Dance has taught me empathy, understanding, and expression. The combination of the distance from my thoughts as well as the utilization of them also leads me to create something that I feel always embodies myself. Art- or in general just life- without passion is meaningless to me. Dance has enriched my life because it has allowed me to understand that everything I do that I want to be proud of requires that passion and incorporation of my own personality.
My art has also given me the community to belong to. I have met so many people because of what I do, so many people that have enhanced my understanding of how big, as well as how small, the art world is. The sense of belonging that the other amazing dancers that I have been able to relate and speak with is something that I value so much. Being surrounded by like-minded artists that all support each other in their endeavors is a feeling that I can never take for granted. It gives me the sense of family, friendship, and even home. I am at home when I am growing and learning and expressing myself alongside others, free of judgment and full of pure understanding. I would not exchange the connections and bonds that dance has allowed me to form for anything else.
I have also learned how to be patient with myself. Valuable work does not come from rushing through a valuable process. Being able to improve on something every single time that you do it, working until it’s right, that process doesn’t just apply to perfecting a step. It applies to the perfection of anything in my life, and has increased the strength of my work in all aspects of my life. Or the process of getting as close to perfection as possible. Giving myself patience has allowed me to do the best that I possibly can. Learning is a process, and one that needs to be done correctly for the best results possible.
Ultimately, dance has enriched my life because it has enriched my values. I don’t think that I would be nearly as proud of who I am if I had not stuck with dance my entire life so far. Not only do I want to continue to become a better artist, but also a better person.