Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?
Kathak is a classical Indian dance form that I've been practicing for over ten years. When my parents signed me up for the class at the age of five, I hated it. I hated the tinkling bells on my feet and the repetitive movements that we would practice every week in that small dance studio a couple blocks down from my house. Staring at myself in the large mirror that expanded over one wall of the studio, I watched as I fumbled what should have been graceful movements. For that one hour a week, I was miserable. Quitting seemed like the only option, but my mother convinced me to stick with it and keep trying. She had more faith in me than I did.
Over the years, Kathak became a constant part of my life. Although I changed teachers multiple times, maturity had made me a more diligent student. I practiced footwork until my heels were sore and the soles of my feet were red. I made sure my every hand movement was elegant and a precise copy of my teacher's. At the age of thirteen, I was a proficient dancer and one of the best students in my class. During performances, I never once made a mistake. The only real difficulty I had was keeping a smile pasted on my face as I danced on stage. Unfortunately, my hard work did not stem from any real passion for the dance form. Eight years after I started Kathak, I quit.
For six months, I didn't so much as look at my ghungroos- the brass bells worn around the feet of Kathak dancers. Slowly, however, I realized that I missed dancing. Taking a break from Kathak is what made me realize how important it was to me. I signed up with a new teacher and, though I was unsure at first, I found myself enjoying the class and looking forward to attending every week. At the start of my junior year of high school, my teacher asked me to work as a teacher's assistant for her children's class. Working with younger students to improve their abilities and encouraging them to keep trying when they make mistakes has helped me to grow not only as a dancer, but as a person.
Kathak has taught me the importance of perseverance and dedication. Had I never decided to start dancing again, I would have missed out on a great experience. I also would not have had the opportunity to work with other students and help them achieve their own goals.
Today, whether I'm looking out into a crowd of people from the stage, or simply staring at my reflection in the studio mirror, I have no trouble keeping a smile on my face.