Define: Determination

This is an essay I wrote that I’d like to share with my readers.

Sorry about my absence, school started and everything has gone insane.

This essay (back stories! yay) is a school assignment. We need to take a concrete story (something real) and get an abstract (idea or concept, nothing real) that we can get out of it. There are a few different ones in here, so have fun finding them!


I’m pretty sure there are few worse things in ballet than falling on your bottom in the middle of class. And one of those is falling on stage.

When the terrible earthquake and its following tsunami devastated Sendai, Japan, our church held a benefit concert titled “We Care” with an auction and live performance. As soon as I heard about it, my mom leaned over to me and said, “Laura, you should audition for the concert! You could dance a solo you did for PAFE!” PAFE, the Pacific Arts Festival of the Eastside, is a class and adjudication a large ballet studio holds each year. After the class, there is an optional opportunity for students to dance a solo from ballets and be critiqued on their dances.

So when mom brought up the concept of me auditioning, I accepted it. And auditioned.

I danced a solo entitled “La Priere” — “The Prayer” — from a classical ballet on pointe shoes on our church’s stage. The given stage, which is annoyingly uneven and therefore even harder to balance on the small toe of the pointe shoe than normal, made it tedious. To add on to that, the space was incredibly restricted and I never got a chance to block out the dance on the stage before then.

But, apparently, they liked me, so I was asked to dance in the concert, but not my classical ballet solo. In order to put as many acts in the show as they wanted to, they had to combine some. So, they gave me a soundtrack and sheet music to a beautiful arrangement of “What Wondrous Love is This?” that the choir was going to perform, giving me a hundred measures (or two minute’s worth of dancing) to choreograph. I brought it to my ballet teacher, who’d been giving me privates for “La Priere” before classes, and I told her that I needed a two minute section of this song choreographed for the upcoming show in four weeks. I would only have three privates so I could be at church to practice on the fourth thursday, then actually rehearse and perform for the next few days.

And sure enough, three and a half weeks later, I was standing on the uncomfortably uneven stage wearing rolled-up jeans, a t-shirt and my worn out pointe shoes, blocking my solo, then actually running through it with an audience of my mom, the choir director and the tech man who played the song through the speakers so I could get the “full effect,” as he said.

As I danced it, something didn’t feel right. I started changing the choreography to something that would suit me and my talents better, as well as to stay steady on the unsteady floor. Of course, my mom was all for it, telling me that “It’s your dance, so you should change it how you want to,” or something of that sort.

When dress rehearsal rolled around, I didn’t really have the whole thing down solid. I was dancing for the middle two minutes of the five or six minute long song. About half of the choir was there that night, along with the piano and violin soloists. The climax of the song was a pirouette in the front and center and, as I turned it, I did a fine double then my shoe gave out and I fell off onto demi-pointe.

Now that I think about it, I really should’ve just landed the pirouette there. But in the heat of the moment, I tried to hop back up onto pointe, then rolled my ankle and stumbled, almost falling.

Half of the choir stopped singing, the pianist stopped playing and there were a few muffled gasps from those watching.

I was able to regain my composure and end in a lunge as I would’ve if I had successfully landed the pirouette, then continued the dance as if nothing had happened, with shaky hands and a pounding heart. The piano player started playing again and the choir kept singing and it ended well. I had friends backstage to encourage me afterwards and I hadn’t really hurt my ankle. I was fine for the rest of the dress rehearsal and the performance the next evening.

Naturally, I was forever mortified, but the actual performance went spectacularly.


That’s only one of many falls I had in dance. I left my almost decade-long dance career with more bruises, blisters and missing toenails I would care to recollect. I’m now following God’s call, stepping away from dance and into a new sport: fencing. But the advice that every ballet teacher I had had told me sticks in my brain to this day: “The audience always remember how you begin and how you end. It doesn’t matter what you do in the middle, as long as you end well.” In short, no matter what happens, persevere. Don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, because there are better things for you out there!

You can’t learn without failing and falling. Falling hurts, it really does, but you really can’t continue through the rest of everything if you don’t stand back up again. Standing is even worse after everyone has seen you fall, but once you’re on your feet, you’re set. As long as you can summon the courage to go on, then you can end well. And ending well is really what you need to bring up your confidence again.


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