Diya, one of our dancers, submitted an essay for a contest and I wanted to share her special words with you. We are very proud of you Diya.

I am in the middle of a dance class, the music is blasting, and a freestyle circle is forming. One bold dancer steps into the middle of the circle. Suddenly, she breaks out into one of the most creative, original freestyles I have ever seen. I start cheering, and others join in, the air ringing with clapping and raucous cheers. For the last seven years, I have focused mainly on hip-hop, but that was not the style she was doing. What she was doing was different from any other dance style I had ever tried. But yet, I could still appreciate it and enjoy it just as much as anyone else.

To me, that is one of the greatest parts about dance. It allows two people to connect with one another and marvel in each other’s creativity, no matter how vast the differences between them may be. And this is not some oft-repeated mantra that, in reality, never actually happens. This is something I see among dancers every single day. In fact, I have a friend that is more focused on ballet, and is very passionate about it. The fact that I do not take ballet, or have as much of a love for it as she does, does not detract from our friendship — it only makes it greater.

I have been dancing competitively for the past six years. To perform in front of hundreds of people I have never met, and be evaluated on how well I do, has not been the easiest thing for me. A certain level of confidence is necessary, and dance has helped me build that. From having friends that would always be cheering and encouraging no matter what I did and teachers that would push me to constantly try new things, to videos from my first recital that have shown me how much I have grown, there have been so many contributing factors to making my confidence grow. That confidence affects not only the way I dance, but also how I behave towards others. I found myself more willing to become friends with new people, venturing out of my comfort zone, and talking to so many different people in a way that I never would have before. The confidence I gained from dance has impacted every single aspect of my life, and truly has shaped me into the person that I am today.