There is something beautiful about Lexington—the rich symphonies of the youth orchestra, the vibrant murals adorning the city walls, the colorful horses across downtown, or my personal favorite, the resonant applause of the Lexington community echoing back as I conclude a performance on stage. The arts community of Lexington is truly beautiful.

Early in my childhood, I immersed myself in the world of gymnastics. I was constantly pushing my boundaries: flipping off the vaults, tiptoeing on beams, swinging off the bars, and tumbling on the floor. From the age of three, this rigorous routine continued. But something was about to change.

When I was eight years old, my mother took me to see ‘The Nutcracker,’ my first ballet performance. It was unlike anything I had experienced before. Beautiful dancers floating across the stage, partnering with enchanting melodies that kept me at the edge of my seat, eager for more. As I sat there and reflected on the past six years of my life, I realized that my true fulfillment may not be on the gym floor, but rather somewhere else: amongst those dancers.

Within a year, I enrolled in my first ballet class at Kentucky Ballet Theatre (KBT), the very same company that had entranced me with their performance a year prior. I stepped into the studio, wearing a teal leotard, rainbow neon shorts, small pink glasses, and a high ponytail adorned with a huge black bow. With both hands on the barre and my eyes on the girl next to me, I mimicked her steps and immediately felt a profound sense of belonging. It was in that defining moment that my identity became true: I am a dancer.

Being a dancer has brought me friends, mentors, and lifelong connections that I would have been oblivious to otherwise. This sapling of dance has sprouted into a network of people, bridging both local and international communities. While KBT may lack the extravagance of lavish sets, expansive studios, or a large company, they are filled with passion and love for the arts. Many dancers from diverse backgrounds, spanning countries such as Cuba, Switzerland, and Japan are united with a shared love for dancing. Last summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Kentucky Governor’s School for The Arts in the dance program. Through this enriching experience, I had the pleasure of encountering many dancers and mentors from cities and towns across Kentucky, further expanding and deepening my connections within the artistic community. Even today, the bonds and memories that were created through this program remain as principal parts of my dancing, constantly serving as inspiration and motivation as I move across the stage.

Following the pandemic, several of my friends, the people who initiated my passion for dance, chose to prioritize their academics over their dance pursuits. Admittedly, finding a delicate balance between academic responsibilities and dedication to dance had been difficult at times. However, within the familiar studio and through the art of dance, I found solace and liberation, escaping the pressures of school and home to express myself, free of worry and concern. It is through our shared passion for dance that I can uphold cherished bonds and connections, both old and new.

I hope my story resonates with many and highlights the accessibility of the arts to all individuals. In this vibrant community of Lexington, anyone can enjoy the arts and partake in creative expression.