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This is a piece about leaving behind what you love most, and how dance follows you outside the studio.

Somewhere, in the east end of Ottawa, in a transformed dance studio, lives a piece of my heart and my soul. A dance studio becomes your second home, where you made friends for life and learned more about yourself than anywhere else.

There are photographs on the walls of some of your best memories, in a room where you shed blood, sweat and tears, and divulged information only to those that shared the room.

Dance becomes your outlet, somewhere to escape life.

It becomes the thing you look forward to most every week. You grew as a person, becoming the best possible version of yourself.

Even once your shoes get thrown in a box of other old shoes and years of outfits stay hung up in a closet, unlikely to be worn again, dance never really leaves you.

Once you become a dancer, you’re one for life, even if you no longer do weekly commutes across town to the studio, partake in yearly shows or get up early for competitions.

What you learn from dance lasts forever.

Dance taught me more about hard work and perseverance than any schooling ever did. It was pushing through and going further than you’d dreamt after having people doubting you. It is not easy to never give up, even when you were tired, felt frustrated or doubted yourself.

Dance taught me to take compliments I didn’t believe, and take harsh criticisms that ultimately were given in my best interest to help me improve.

Even when you felt it was hopeless and you were never going to reach your goals, you kept working hard because that was the only thing you knew. When you did achieve what you were working for, the satisfaction of celebrating your accomplishments was the best feeling.

There are always going to be people who are better than you, and there are going to be competitions that are tough and don’t always go well. Some things don’t work out the way you want them to.

These things happen, but you move on and do what you need to get better. In the end, you do the best you can and that’s all that can be asked of you. Life isn’t always fair, and that is something that needs to be learnt to prepare you for real life.

Dance teaches you so much about dedication and time management.

Being at the studio several times a week keeps a dancer busy, as well as having to practice at home and stay fit.

Sometimes it is hard to balance school and having a social life on top of dance. But ask any dancer and they will never regret the things they missed out on or the pressure their busy schedule might have put them under. Not a single second, because those were the best times and they were so worth it.

Life can be truly amazing when you have something you’re passionate about, and I think this is something I largely took for granted. No one ever really tells you how heart breaking it to give that up.

Dance becomes a part of you, a part of your life and who you are. But all those hours put in, all the training that’s done, that follows you for life.

Be grateful for your dance teacher and go thank them, they teach so much more than how to move.