By: Zoe Dale
When you see a dance performance, you see that the performers put a lot of work into it, you see that they’re having fun, and you see that they love what they are doing. But very few realize how deep those feelings go. Dance is a way to express yourself, when there may not be another way to. I personally have gone through many things that have been very hard to talk about or express in another way. Dance is the other way. Dancing is my safe feeling. I can’t be harmed when dancing. I can’t be degraded. I can’t be excluded. I can’t be alone. What I can be is safe. Happy. Surrounded by people that I know will always be there for me. You know how people often say that they’re “hanging on by a thread”. The pretenders studio is my thread. I don’t care how many other threads are cut, this community will always be there. Yes, dance itself is something very important. The movement, the expression. But for me the most meaningful part isn’t the building, it isn’t the stage, it isn’t the leotards. It’s the sense of comfort. The community. The friendships. The family. Some of my favorite people on this planet I have met at the studio. The people that I celebrate victories with. And the people whose arms I cry in when going through some of the toughest things that I’ll ever have to face. The people who I reach out to when in need of guidance.
At Pretenders, I have met the people that I will forever strive to be. Not only dance wise, but the people at this studio are some of the most supportive, loving, and kind people that you will ever meet. If I ever reach a point where I have touched as many lives as they have, and as deeply as they have, I will be the proudest that I could be. I am crying while writing this, and that is because I worry that no one will understand quite how intensely this studio has changed so many lives. When I joined the studio, I was a six year old who needed a safe space, and had 0 friends. I am now 13, have the best friends in the world (courtesy of the studio) and a second family that I have always and will always turn to when necessary. I said something the other day about the people at the studio and someone asked who they were. I responded “my dance teachers.” But that was the understatement of the century. They are my second moms. My comfort people. My biggest supporters. The people that I would be proud to say know I exist let alone say that they see me as family. I cannot express how much this studio has impacted my life. My dancing skills, yes, but also the way I hold myself, the way I talk to people, the person I am. I am proud to say that I am a member of a company as great as this one. No, company is the wrong word. A home. Lisa, Amy, Cecile, Amanda, Meg, Skye, and every other person that has played a role in the sanctuary that is The Pretenders Studio, thank you. Thank you for saving me, thank you for loving me, thank you for accepting me no matter what kind of qualities I possess. My biggest accomplishment was finding this family, and I am forever grateful for everything and everyone associated with it.