I was in Ballet and Tap classes from a young, toddling age. The classes you sometimes see through a large dance studio window, with ten little girls in pink leotards and tights, trying to grip the bar as they bounce on their tip-toes. I can still hear my teacher’s high, sweet voice, “Pique one, pique two.” I can also hear the non-stop tap noises that echoed in a room filled with tiny balls of energy with metal on their feet. I remember sucking in, comparing how my leotard looked to the other girls around me. Even back then, I was self-conscience as a dancer.

I stopped taking those classes after a few years and didn’t take another formal dance class till 6th grade. I felt called to tap again.

Wearing my mom’s old shoes, I eased back into the steps at All That Dance. I would barely talk with the other girls and watched in awe as they moved so confidently throughout the room. Little did I know, I would be the confident one after a couple years of dedication to moving and loving my body in dance. In high school, I leaped into Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, and even some Pop styles… but Tap Dance was and will always be my favorite.

I came to love watching dancers in the 1930’s and 40’s in old films. Vera Ellen never ceases to blow me away. I’ve watched Gene Kelly over and over again at half speed to write his steps down. Dick Van Dyke taught me how to smile in my dancing. Mary Tyler Moore brought me confidence. Fred Astaire inspired me to think outside of the box. How fitting that my first dance video was Putting on the Ritz in the midst of the 2020 shutdown. I really had to think outside the box.

Through all of this, I never believed that I was a dancer. I’m a singer, I’m a good student, I’m a strong leader, an artist, an actress… but a dancer? I didn’t think so. Because I came back into dance later than others, I thought I was behind. I CONVINCED myself that I was behind. I thought that I always had to prove myself. I had nothing to prove, I was already a dancer.

My senior year of high school ended with a bang as I played the lead role of our musical with all kinds of dance numbers and gymnastics. I worked myself so hard to prove I could fill that role and I did! But I still didn’t convince myself. Who knew that a simple photo would open my mind to the possibility that I’m a dancer.

Last summer (2022) was the summer before starting college. A couple of girl friends and I (shout out to the Dula Peeps) took a ferry ride in Washington. Of course we went camera crazy, capturing the beautiful day and the wonderful company. I improvised some dancing, without a care of the captain of the ferry watching as my friends giggled from behind the camera. I ran back to them to see the photos and saw this one. I exclaimed, “I AM a dancer!”

I was a dancer the moment I felt confident in my body as I moved. I never had to prove to anyone my dance experience and I never should’ve compared myself to those around me. All I needed to do was feel my love for dance and convince MYSELF, “I am a dancer.”

Starting college, I also started at a new studio. Being over 18, I now have to be in adult classes. I found myself with peers from 5 to 30 years older than me, but most importantly, I found myself tapping next to my past tap teacher. I’m a student alongside a mentor of mine. I can’t explain how much that warms my heart. I continue to try new classes and push myself to go even when the late evenings feel so long and tired after school. Why? Because I love to dance.

No matter what the horizon looks like or where this ferry is going, I will always be a dancer.


Josephine A perfectly timed photon on a ferry in Washington that made me say: “I AM a dancer!”




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