But I'm Not Dead Yet

Standing in First. Thoughts From My Daughter

She’s not done yet. This was taken in June. A studio with a view!

I found this yesterday because my husband is making me organize my office. And closet. And hard drive (and by “making me” I mean he gently handed me a drawer and walked away).

 It’s mostly a horrible idea on his part. I was hating everything about me, and him, and my terrible life choices when I came across a paper written by my 13-year-old daughter for an English class. She’s 19 now. She’s not really dancing anymore. She’s currently in Thailand working with elephants and hoping to make the world “one step closer to a better place.”  It’s possible she learned to love the world in a ballet studio.

Dance from a 13-year-old’s perception:

Standing in first position, my feet press into a relevé as I rise onto my toes. My calves tighten; I push down my shoulders and round my arms while elongating my neck, tightening my abdominals, and tucking under my tailbone. The song, “First Arabesque”, by Claude Debussy, fills the ballet studio with perfect rhythm and my body gracefully flows with exact synchronization to the music. The world gradually disappears as I drift into a mindset with no stress, no worries; purely focusing on the moment. In this moment, I feel beautiful and free. I am in complete control, and for a little while, I get the feeling that this is who I am supposed to be.

Whether I am practicing in the ballet studio or performing on stage, dancing is where I feel controlled, powerful, and peaceful. It allows me to express any emotion through grace and precise movement, while dis-enabling my thoughts to drift to any other place. I love the feeling of my muscles tightening, pointing my feet, pushing my legs to the peak of their flexibility. I don’t prefer to be doing anything else while I am dancing, and I can’t imagine a contented life without it. I attended my first ballet class at a young age of two years old, loving the classical music, tutus, ballet slippers, and acting like a princess. At the end of class, each ballerina earned a sticker if we tried our hardest and could perform one move we learned during the lesson. Early on I would dance to earn the sticker, now I dance for myself.
In a world of chaos, we find the simplest of things to be peaceful. I am a firm believer of finding peace, and I dance for that sole purpose. If I can make something beautiful and peaceful, then the world is one step closer to a better place.

There’s not a single word to describe the feeling that rushes through my body when I am performing on stage. My heart races to a speed that takes my breath away, and my mind is completely aware of everything taking place in my muscles. I experience the exhilarated rush of being on a rollercoaster, the grace of a swan, and the power of a rocket. Every part of my body is working at the same time, while exploiting my mind. No sport requires an athlete to utilize every muscle at once, while portraying that sport into a work of art.
Dancing demands inhumane strains on the body: forcing all weight onto the tips of the toes, flying into the air, and dropping onto a knee from numerous pirouettes. Pushing my body to the extreme is thrilling, and although dance may be emotionally draining at times, I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

by Hannah Burns


  1. johnho

    Lovely said… I am also a firm believer. 🙂

  2. Karen Burns

    Thanks John. She did a good job.

  3. molly

    i am a past dancer that had forgotten why I danced. Thank you for reminding me ❤️

  4. Palomino Designs

    Very well written and great insight! Enjoyed it! I'm a 50+ dancer and I still relate to everything she wrote here. Blessings!

  5. Karen Burns

    I'm 50+ too and I absolutely relate too!

  6. Karen Burns

    What a good thing to remember 🙂

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