I was three and a half when my parents took me to the dancing school. Ballet. And traditional Russian dance. Because why not.
I was around 4-5 when I had my first big concert with a small solo part in one of the dances. Probably the thrill of that performance got me hooked on for good 10 years.
Dancing rehearsals are brutal. At least in Russia. Being called names, insulted, offended used to be a normal thing. I am not sure how things are now. “Are you stupid? Can you count till 8? Then why are you doing only 6 steps? You are a waste of my time!” That is just a minor example of what was happening in the studio.
I was in second grade when I had a lead role in a series of Christmas shows. I was skipping school every other day to be able to perform which meant double the school work as I had to cover what was happening during classes as well. At some point I got sick and had a fever of 38 and was still performing as there was no replacement.
I was 14 years old when we went to Bulgaria. We were rehearsing almost every day until 10-11 o’clock at night. I remember coming home crying and saying that I will never go back that I have had enough. And then then next day I would pack my bag and go.
All of that disappears when you go on stage. When you know that everybody is looking at you. When you are telling a story with your dance. When you are being measured for the costumes that will be done for you for the new dance that is being staged now.
You know that you can feel music like nobody else does. That classical music from the recitals and rehearsals is in your blood for the eternity to come. That the second you hear Chopin your body is ready to do the routine at the bar. That you possess the knowledge of some mystery revealed only to the chosen ones.
Dancing taught me to push through. To suck it up. To pick myself and keep going. To cry and still dance. It made me realize that results come only after you invest your time, your energy, your heart and soul into what you are doing. I am thankful that my parents kept encouraging me, pushing me, threatening me, bribing me to keep dancing.
I hope Maya will walk down a similar path one day. It doesn’t matter whether it is art, sport, dancing, music or something else. I want her to learn to work hard, I want her to experience the same thrill of achievement, I want her to struggle and come out as a winner as I know that dancing influenced my personality and made me so much stronger.
I am definitely thankful for that.