My Realization

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

The American Ballet Theater (ABT) Gillespie School parent/student meeting back in March started off with nothing exciting, nothing new. New drop off and pickup procedures. The June showcase. Spring evaluations. Yawn. But then the school’s artistic director announced, out of the blue, that she was restructuring the entire program!

I bolted upright, suddenly very wide awake. Going forward, the program would no longer support students wanting to dance in college. Instead, becoming a professional dancer immediately upon high school graduation had to be every ABT dance student’s goal. It was all in or entirely out. Class times for the upcoming fall were moved from after school to 1 pm, an impossible time for me to make if I wanted to continue with my rigorous AP/honors course load and school activities. My world felt like it was crashing down. I was faced with a stark choice: professional dancer or college? Until this point, I always thought I could do both. Now, at age 17, I was forced to make a decision that would affect the rest of my life.

No one was more committed to dance than I was. I spent the last 15 years training up to 30 hours each week. I danced for several years at ABT, one of the nation’s premiere programs, where I...

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