Penny started dancing at the age of two; donned in adorable little tutus, jumping alongside friends, entertaining the moms and oblivious to what dance even was. Dance continued off and on over the years, complimented and interrupted by gymnastics, basketball and tennis. As she approached her 7th grade year I asked her to pick one activity to truly dedicate herself to so she could build discipline and see growth. She chose dance. She auditioned and was selected to join the Connect team, a program designed for new competitive dancers. She was placed into two routines, one contemporary and one hip hop, with the same group of girls, all competing for the first time. It has been remarkable to see how they’ve grown and what they achieved as a team.
The dance season isn’t over but what a season it’s been so far! This year Lucas competed six group routines and one solo, the biggest commitment he’s had to the team in his now fifth year of competition team. He went from 3 hip hop and 1 contemporary routine last season to 3 hip hop, 3 contemporary and 1 solo this season. He went from being a hip hop dancer to getting recognition in other styles including ballroom and musical theater. Every year we’ve seen his passion, commitment and drive for dance grow but this year was a pivotal year. This was the year his passion for dance grew beyond convenience and the year his friendships grew to become lifelong.
DanceMakers was the first convention of the season, back on stage, without masks. Several of the team had the opportunity to perform in the closing show. Hand selected by the choreographer, they rehearsed between classes and competition and got to experience a slice of professional dance life.
He was always thoughtful and curious. Two qualities I observed early on that were echoed throughout his childhood in the questions he asked, the friends he made, the conversations we had. I remember swimming with him in the ocean, off the coast of Belize, chatting away as if I were talking to a friend, he was all of 9. Six years later we spend hours in the car talking about relationships, the creative process, gratitude, challenges (both his and mine), global politics, race issues and what inspires us. He doesn’t like conflict, doesn’t like to be scolded or reprimanded and therefore will use his humor and charm to calm an upset friend or an angry parent. In the past three years he’s grown tremendously in size, strength and ability. I look at this boy that is taller than me and bigger than me and I see the young man he is becoming. But at times I’ll catch an expression, a fleeting glimpse, and suddenly I see my 9 year old staring back at me and am reminded no matter how tall he grows he will never outsize that thoughtful, gentle heart.
On January 21, 2017 millions marched around the world in reaction to Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March was a worldwide protest prompted by the fact that several of Trump’s statements were considered by many as anti-women or otherwise offensive to women. It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Four years later women once again took to the streets because a basic human and health right is being threatened by a too far reaching government. The government can’t mandate people get the COVID-19 vaccine but yet they can tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her own body.