Way Back

There isn’t a time in my life that I can remember before ballet. It was the reason I did homework in the car, why I only wore closed-toe shoes to school, and the excuse for every missed hang-out. With each class, I fell more in love with the art—and it shaped my personality, too: Corrections from teachers fed my tendency toward perfectionism and hardened me to critique; striving to improve my technique sparked a keen attention to detail; and opportunities for personal artistry kindled my creativity.

The issue: I’d been blessed (cursed?) with my mother’s flat feet. And classical ballet’s aesthetic unequivocally requires arches. Though I stubbornly pursued it anyway (even landing myself a spot at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ small high school program), I knew deep-down that ballet was more dream than dream job for me.

By senior year, I’d accepted the necessity of applying to college, rather than auditioning for ballet companies. In an ideal school, I was looking for rigorous academics, the opportunity for ballet classes without a major in dance (I hoped to develop a new recreational, rather than career-oriented relationship with my former love), and a good writing program. I found all three at Washington University in St. Louis.

See the Recent Past for more on how I’ve taken on writing with the same fervor I once directed toward dance.