Years ago, my ballet instructor told me that the word “can’t” is non-existent in my vocabulary. I was 18 when I started taking ballet. Because I worked on Monday and Wednesday evenings, I was interested in taking a beginning adult class that was offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I called the studio and spoke with the owner, Ms. Warren, who was once a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet. “The only class that I have on Tuesdays and Thursdays is the Advanced Company Ballet class,” Ms. Warren said. She then went on to say that started off in that class and they both quit.
She welcomed me to come and observe one evening. I was like, okay, sure, I can do that. And that was despite the fact that I had never danced a step of ballet in my life. I didn’t even know the simplest things about ballet, such as the five basic positions. However, I went and observed the class.
Even though I was slightly bigger than the other dancers and not nearly as flexible (some of the dancers could stretch their leg above their head), I wasn’t intimidated. Everyone was nice and welcoming and I felt at home among them. I wanted to be a part of the Company.
Ms. Warren looked at me after the class concluded and asked, “Do you think you can do it?” “I think I can,” I replied. And I did. A year later, I performed in their production of Swan Lake. When I stepped in and danced the Pas De Deux during a rehearsal in place of a dancer who was absent, Mrs. Warren was blown away.
I absolutely couldn’t give up on Half Dome, no matter what. Something miraculous awaited me at the end and I wanted to reach for it. I had to touch it.