BY Kristin Burnell
I wished a bittersweet goodbye to the sport that has been a part of my life for the past 19 years this past weekend. Dance has been more than just putting on makeup and wearing a costume to perform in front of a crowd of people. It has opened new doors for opportunity, helped develop me to be who I am today and taught me numerous pertinent life lessons.
Spending every weekend at a dance competition, rehearsal or event growing up taught me the importance of time. I wouldn’t trade every second of every practice at any given time for all the valuable experiences that came with the sport.
Learning my own personal flaws and listening to constructive criticism was something that was always the most difficult to accept when dancing. However, it is quite possibly the most critical skill to have learned. It has allowed me to build a strong protective armor against whatever harsh judgements I have received in life.
Through dance, I constantly stared at my own reflection in the mirrored walls that enclosed my surroundings. I would critique every inch of my body with a fine-tooth comb. Even though I became my own harshest critic, I also slowly watching myself develop a positive self progression through the years.
I have learned approximately 500 dance routines over the past 19 years that I have consistently poured my heart into. Walking off the field, stage, or floor while struggling to find my breath, full of exhaustion and pride about my performances helped me evolve a strong sense of self-confidence, allowing myself to express my own individuality. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that this indestructible self-esteem would help me overcome any challenges that are thrown my way in this journey of life.
Reflecting back on all the skills that dance has instilled in me also makes me appreciate all the remarkable people that have came into my life because of dance. I have to give a special thank you to all my teammates old and new, coaches, teachers and every individual that has crossed my path throughout my dance career. Every single person has made a special impact on me and I could not be more grateful for them. Especially a big shoutout to all my friends, my number one cheerleaders, who always have supported me and been the loudest people in the crowds at all my performances at Sacred Heart.
I have an incredibly large amount of gratitude for my parents for being at every dance competition, recital, game and event. For the countless amount of hours spent driving me around to make sure I got to rehearsals and competitions on time. As well as spending many weekends away from home to make sure I got to do what I love. They have been my number one supporters since the very beginning and allowed me to do countless dance activities no matter what. My sisters, Courtney and Kaitlyn, have also had a big influence on my dance career. Without them dancing before me, I would have never took upon the sport that holds a special place in my heart.
Through every obstacle, challenge, dance competition, football game or basketball game, I have learned the balance of time, the importance of dedication, and the elements of striving for perfection with every step and movement made. Dance has become an outlet for me to let go, to forget my worries and to even display emotions I couldn’t often fully comprehend in real life while growing up.
As I reflect on a remarkable past nineteen years, I truly realize how much dance has affected my life. It’s hard to imagine a life without dance, a week without a practice, or game to perform at over the weekend. I could not be more grateful for the journey this sport has provided me with through every jump, leap, pirouette, or count of eight that has become a second nature to me. I am going to miss dancing with every ounce of my soul, but I know it will always be apart of my life in every way. So with that being said, I give a special, immense thank you to the sport of dance and all that it has to done for me.