by Ayannah Garcia

The final breath in the dark of the curtains leaves me nervous. Yet I still must walk out into the light on stage…

As the music starts, I let go of any boundaries I’ve had before and just dance—letting my body flow with the music. Let the audience fade away until it’s just me, the music, and the stage. With the moves I learned from all my years of dancing, I create a masterpiece in my eyes. When the music builds, I do a magnificent move, a gravity-defying leap off the ground. I envision myself in front of many people, wowed throughout my whole performance. As the music comes to a stop, I step out and take a low bow thanking the audience for watching my great performance and thanking everyone who got me there. As my surroundings begin to change until I am back in the studio, only practicing my dance all alone, I calm myself from the high of dancing…

Performing in front of strangers—four of whom that are judging you down to the last breath—can be nerve-racking and stressful. No, it can be terrifying! Terrifying to the point where my lungs barely function, and my legs are rooted to the ground like trees. One wrong gesture, one move forgotten, a simple stumble, or going too fast (or slow) could mess up the whole dance. More stress hits when you realize you are being judged by everyone and not just the people who are supposed to be judging you.

Yet I still dance. I love to… for the adrenaline rush. For the recognition that what I did paid off. I still dance to prove to them that I won with my talent. That I get to tell a story my way, with my moves, my expressions, and my talent. I worked hard to get to this level. How else can I make them see the story I feel in my bones?

When I dance, the music I hear inspires me to move. It flows through moves like water, and I hit the accents like steel striking metal. To become a warrior of my creation fighting on the battlefield showing no vulnerability with the strength of my movements, yet also exposing my vulnerability as it’s etched on the 

side of my face. Feeling the story flow from my mind through my body, I etch it into the floor with each step like words on a page—which I call my dance. And when the time comes to perform on stage, I might be ready. As I step on the stage where the lights are hot on my skin, the music starts and now I let go. This time, for real, I let the music guide me without restraint. I’m no longer just flowing with it but following it, letting it take me places I have been, but never really explored. One masterpiece, one gravity-defying leap and breathtaking move later, I calm myself and bow. This time the audience is thanking me for a great performance. This time it ends with a trophy. 

About Ayannah Garcia

Ayannah Garcia is a freshman attending Richwoods High School, where she takes part in the Pre-IB program, the Royalettes dance team, and the drama club. Outside of school, she loves to dance, read, journal, travel with family, and play with her dog. In addition to these activities, she is currently a member of the Finale Group of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill, an organization for young African American individuals who want to serve the community, and a member of her church’s youth group.

About Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best.