Personal Narrative Essay: Dance Is My Harmony
There is a technique in music I find remarkable: harmony. When two or more notes vie for attention, differing in points of view. The ear mediates, perceiving the notes as one collective sound. What’s created is an enriched melody, with both notes respected and enlightened. Standing on their own they sound pleasing, but together they create a new, richer tone that leaves a satisfying, enduring impression. I am forever in search of harmony.
When I ask my mother what I was like as a child, she always repeats one thing: that I had rhythm. When we attended children's concerts, I escaped out of my stroller and ran to the front of the audience, closest to the stage; I was in awe of the music surrounding me and wanted a closer look. I bounced to the beat that lifted me onto my toes. This led to my mother enrolling me in dance classes when I was three years old, hoping to encourage my natural inclination of integrating music with movement.
Not only a passion, but a mentor, dancing guides me in life. It leads me everywhere I go. Dancing picks me up when I am down, and lets me explore and change my emotions. I use dancing as a way to calm down when I have anxiety—helping me find my rhythm again. Freeing my body and soul, dance is the remedy I use when I need to be recharged. Dance was dependable when I was depressed and alone during quarantine and couldn’t have social interaction. Or when I was diagnosed with ADHD and words like “disorder” and “disability” repeated in my head. I used dancing as a channel out of my discomfort because it cradles mistakes and finds the beauty in them: discovering the harmony.
Dancing gives me an outlet to express emotions that feel tough to say out loud. I danced my story of heartache when my grandfather died during the pandemic. Dance is also a catalyst to love and happiness, for example, when I was dance captain in my first high school musical and fell in love with theatre. However, there hasn’t always been harmony in my life. My parents divorced when I was five years old and I’ve felt stuck between two worlds. Dancing has been the constant in my life that has never abandoned me, and I am grateful to dancing for lifting me up during hard times.
I love the variety of dance styles: the prescribed movements of ballet, the inventive movements of contemporary, and the intricacies of tap. Each allows me to feed a part of my soul and perform my distinct skills. Dancing also gives me a purpose. It builds strength in me: not only the physicality of lifting female dancers, but also gives me the confidence to defy gender stereotypes and the acuity to ace a challenging test in school. Dance and the harmony of music provide me with discipline, connection, creativity, improvisation, and meaning in life.
The moment is imminent. The curtain allows me to hide in the darkness, preparing myself for what is to come. Standing in the wings, my palms are glazed with sweat as my heart beats 200 times a minute. I curl my toes and plant them on the black vinyl flooring. I feel my nerves sink deep into the ground. A rush of electricity flows throughout my body. I take two deep breaths, imagining myself at a quiet beach or deep in a forest. I repeat the movements from my routine in my head so muscle memory will engage once the curtain opens. The music recedes into silence as I block out the world around me and focus on my breathing. The silence signals a readiness in me as I step into my comfort zone. It is time to dance. This is my harmony.