This is what I remembered:Lights. Blurred vision. Center stage. Hundreds of people in the audience with all eyes on me. The freshly waxed black stage floor, and the cameras suspended from the ceiling projecting your every move to the television, held by the judged table. I was nine years old going on ten. At that time I had been taking hip-hop, Tahitian, and Jazz dance classes for eight years already; completed in all three several times but never won first in Jazz. But I knew this was my year. I was more determined than ever.
Spotlight competition was the big competition at the end of the year; everyone from my dance school WSPA and all over came to compete, including my friend Leighlani. Leighlani was like my best friend in the dance world, she was two years older but age was never a factor in our friendship. Leighlani was a Tahitian dancer. And although she only danced Tahitian she would always help me and perfect my dancing. Another perfectionist was my Jazz teacher Kelly. She was more than austere, she picked at every single smidge of a wrong move.Order now
If it wasn’t up to her standard you weren’t getting pass with her. At the time I hated her strict teaching but looking back I guess it was for the best. Due to the fact that was my last year with Kelly as my Jazz teacher I felt like I had to persevere through everything holding me back and take that win home. We were all backstage. Myself, Leighlani, Kelly, and my hip-hop teachers Patrick and Chris. Chris and Kelly were trying to get my music set up while Leighlani and Pat ran through my dances hundreds of times. Pat and Leighlani were downright and utterly frustrated with me.
I couldn’t focus at all. My environment was throwing me off a bit. I was used to being surrounded with other quiet Jazz dancers who were keeping to themselves like I would be. But all around were Tahitian and hula dancers; huge feather headpieces, flowers being thrown all around, and the sound of wooden jewelry beating together. The hula category was right after me so they were all getting ready. But when it came to dance, Leighlani became a miniature Kelly and was not about to play games. Whenever she saw me get flustered or distracted she made it her duty so get me back in the game.
Before I knew it, it was my 10 minute call. I wanted to take this time to really calm down and try to concentrate on myself, but of course something has to go wrong. I overhear Kelly, Pat, and Chris talking about my music. Kelly’s face was red but not of anger, more of remorse. At this point I’m thinking something is very wrong with my music and there is no extra copy to use. I immediately panic. I envisioned myself of stage and my music skipping or stopping completely, and me just standing there with a blank expression on my face, then loosing once again.
But here comes Leighlani to the rescue making an effort to calm me down. She comes over and asks me “Liyah, why do you look like your about to barf? Ha-ha. ” “Something is wrong with my music and have no clue what’s going on. ” I tell her. “Calm down okay? You got it dude. ” “You got it dude” was Lani’s favorite thing to say. Even though she said it all the time I knew she actually meant it. A couple minutes later Kelly comes relieved with a cd held in her hand. By this time my ten minutes are just about over and it’s time for me to do my thang and leave it all on the stage.
My name a mispronunciation like always, my number 1011, and the name of my dance “Did Ya Hear? ” was called. I walk on stage starring into the bright flash of light in the bar back blinding me for a second. My hands are shaking, my upper lip is shiny from the sweat appearing and my chest was pounding like a hammer on a nail. At this point I couldn’t remember the first step on the dance nor how it ended. Up until the music cut on. When I heard the music my body moved for me. I was dancing. Every move stuck clean and every motion hit sharp.
My final pose should not have included a smile but I couldn’t help it, it felt so good to know you did the best you could have. An hour later was awards. Although I was so confident in myself, this part always made me nervous. Sitting there on stage listening to every ones name get called, waiting for yours to come out the announcers mouth. Leighlani snuck on stage to sit with me as I waited. Our hands locked, squeezing so tight the green veins were popping out of both of our hands. The announcer is giving the “everyone is a winner speech” no one especially Leighlani, didn’t want to hear.
Lani, more anxious than me was getting irritated and was making smart remarks after everything the announcer said. Lani’s comments are making me laugh which is calming me down. I release Leighlani’s hand a bit letting air flow through our intertwining fingers. I close my eyes and try to shut out everything around me and imagine the announcer calling my name. I feel an intense nudge and open my eyes and realize my name was just called. The wrinkles on my four head appeared because the look of confusion upon my face. I was so zoned out I had no clue what place I received.
I look over at Lani and her eyes were watering as if she was about to cry and a proud grin was on her face. It was then I knew. I did it. I won. Looking back on that day is encouraging to me; it showed me if I really put my mind to something I could achieve my goals. Unfortunately that was my last year dancing Jazz at WSPA, but if I could I would relive it all over again. But for now I can still make time. Time for Lani’s help, time for that nervous feeling, and time for that nine year old girl being pronounced overall winner of the 8-10 solo division Jazz step dance.