Isabella D'Antonio-Koukoutas - 2021 Essay Winner

Just Dance 2017

By:  Isabella D’Antonio-Koukoutas      

The vice grip tightened around my head slowly as the pounding in my ears deafened the words my mother was saying to me.  The beating in my ears pounded to the beat of a bass drum as I discovered the news.  The large teardrops rolled down my face creating a waterfall gushing into a mysterious plunge pool of emotions below.  The anger and grief paralyzed my face as if a cannonball hit me straight in the heart.  I learned my dance teacher, Tara Lynn Clossman, age twenty-five, died unexpectedly on August 20, 2016, from domestic violence. 

My heart dropped faster than a rocket plummeting towards earth.  Tara had been my dance teacher since I started at the McCardle’s Dance Studio at the age of two.  My mind was muffled in hundreds of dark, gray clouds, thick as cotton candy, fogging my memory from remembering her.  How could we dance or compete again?   Our hearts were ripped to shreds in a shredder full of paper cuts and loneliness.  She was a part of our team and dance family.  Without her, we felt as if a dark black hole ate us alive.

 Despite feeling as if I lost everything, I found hope with my dance friends and family. With each dance step, we learned the trust and love dance again.  Fortunately, I had my friends who would catch me if I fell back into the black hole of emptiness.  They would cry with me or we would hold hands silently, rhythmically breathing to Tara’s tap steps.  We grew a piece of armor for every blast of anger hitting us trying to knock us down.  Slowly, the happy thoughts of Tara returned.  With each happy thought, the heavy, metal armor fell to the ground resembling the clanging cymbals in a rock concert.  We grew even closer, and stronger, sensing each other’s moves.  

As a result of our hard work and determination, we were awarded the Golden Ticket to participate in the World Dance Championships.  All of the tears, heartbreak, sweat, and practice lead us to the Final Five!  We were even more determined to win and be crowned World Champions.  We had danced through the storm, with the waves crashing against us knocking us back, but we worked together as a team and never gave up.  We danced the night away. In a deep, chocolate voice, the announcer bellowed, “and your 2017 World Dance Champions are, The Big Bad Wolf!”  Our Dance Team won! The confetti fell as we were in a winter wonderland.  The trophy was longer than all six of us standing side by side!

 After losing Tara we could not dance, but instead of standing in the firestorm of bullets, we danced dodging the bullets of heartbreak and grief.  We had to keep moving for us and Tara.  We had to “Just Dance”!  We continued to support one another, helping each dance through our grief to a World Dance Championship and continues today!