This piece was originally posted on July 29, 2017 by Natalie Salvione, Ballet Arizona’s Development Associate. Her passion for ballet prompted her to share her perspective on the power and influence of dance as a young professional on National Dance Day.
As National Dance Day approaches on Saturday, July 29, I find myself reflecting on how powerful the art of dance is and the tremendous impact it’s had on my life.
Dance has always been a big part of my life. Growing up in Mexico we would learn Mexican folkloric dances that were traditional in every state and then perform them at every parade, holiday or school event imaginable. Dancing is also embedded in Mexican culture, you will see people of all ages dancing at quinceañeras, weddings, first communions and on even on the streets every given weekend. So for me, dance has always meant family, friends and happiness.
When I graduated from college and started looking for jobs in the nonprofit world, the first place I applied was Ballet Arizona. I thought to myself “I love to dance, so I bet I will love the ballet”. Luckily, I was offered the job and have been working for Ballet Arizona for the past six years. Within my first month I realized that I actually knew absolutely nothing about ballet and didn’t even know the difference between first and fifth position. So I took my first ballet class at The School of Ballet Arizona and quickly learned that dancing ballet was one of the hardest things I had ever tried and that my imagined future career as a ballerina was over.
“Giselle” photo by Rosalie O’Connor
That experience actually fueled my desire to learn everything and anything I could about this beautiful art form. It made me appreciate how much our dancers work every day to make each of their performances look effortless and graceful while performing these incredibly athletic feats. It also made me pick back up my passion for Latin Ballroom dancing, which I enjoyed doing all throughout college. If I couldn’t be a ballerina I could at least pretend to be “Baby” from Dirty Dancing!
“Romeo & Juliet” photo by Rosalie O’Connor
What I’ve learned from all of these experiences is that dance comes in all shapes, sizes and there is no limit to who can experience it and the emotions it brings out of you. As a dancer, dance can bring you pure joy and the incredible feeling of accomplishment when you’ve danced your best on-stage. As an audience member, dance can take you to a place of pure emotion. You can feel the extreme sorrow of Odette when Prince Siegfried proclaims his mistaken love for Odile in Swan Lake and you can sense and see the electric love between Romeo and Juliet. Dance takes you to places you never thought you could go to and experience feelings that not many people have the opportunity to live through.