Eighteen-year-old Hector Rodriguez has been dancing with The Wooden Floor for nearly five years. In the fall, he’ll be attending Cal Poly Pomona as a freshman. Parentology is honored to have him share insight into how dance and The Wooden Floor have impacted his life
Dance. A movement. A form of expression. An art.
I walk onstage, my legs quivering with every step as I drag my feet across the floor. Tights on, shoes narrow, and a shirt so tight one could see my ribs if they stood close enough. I take a deep inhale as I stand motionlessly and my heart begins to pound.
Ballet and Modern. They can project a complex system of rules, procedures, and techniques that must be followed carefully to grasp the coattails of what we call perfection. Along my peripheral vision, I’m able to see other dancers begin. Is the air conditioning even on? Although we’ll be dancing the same routine, I feel the notion to stand out through my distinctive passion. This is The Wooden Floor’s nnual oncert.
As I wait for the stage curtains to rise, I sense the beaming stage lights. They seem to enter the very essence of my eyes, past the windows of my heart and through the doors of my soul.
Silence. An auditorium so quiet even the smallest of crickets are forbidden to enter. Stage fright is not an option for a dancer when hundreds of eyes are staring down at your very presence.
Some are captivated by their love for the arts. Some are critiquing the performance. Others accompanied their wives, but would rather be at home watching a football game.
As I continue to stand motionless, I felt inaudible music flow through my body like melted butter streaming down a glossy wall. Rhythmic movements devour my persona. I tremble. The stage floor will be drenched in sweat and anger if a dancer performs the slightest error.
The wait that seems to continue for an eternity proves to be momentary.
I get lost in a flashback…
At The Wooden Floor, the lights turn on. From the outside window, one can witness wooden bars extended along the perimeter of the room. A mirrored wall reflects competition from every angle.
A floor, oh wretched floor. I enter the studio, my second home, and caress my shoes as I prepare to dance. I begin. An instructor approaches me. Sweat and chills run down my spine. “Stretch this arm. Travel more. Move your head. Turn out your feet.” My shoulders are gripped and pressed firmly into position. Why do I even dance at this place? All of this for what?
The feeling of being alive, that’s why.
People live in a society where conformity is praised and dissent is despised. Individuals who dare step out of line, walk the opposite direction, question authority or be the only one to raise a hand in uncertainty are objects of scorn.
From the subtlest variation in behavior, people are brought down by the brutal silence that restrains a human’s inner voice. The vast array of ideas, accumulation of thoughts, arguments, and opinions are locked within the depths of an underground basement with a “do not duplicate” key.
I, for one, am able to listen to my inner voice and live by it. The Wooden Floor provides a wholesome community that helps me strengthen and express those emotions.
Dance will be my voice.
To have an independent mind, to divert from the chains of custom, to express my feelings unrestrainedly – these goals are carried out in my performance. I’m able to undermine the conventional benchmarks of societal standards and promote my own self-empowerment through letting out my emotions on the wooden floor.
A backstage crew member grips the stage curtain pulley.
The dam that represents the walls of my heart can’t hold back passions; the feelings I’m unable to express in words, I must convey through my dance.
I’m ready to face the world, to express my true emotions , to show who I truly am.
The curtains rise.
Come see Hector perform at The Wooden Floor’s 3th nnual oncert held May 30-June 1, 2019, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. On tap, works from choreographers shaping the world of contemporary dance. For more information visit http://www.thewoodenfloor.org/annualconcert/
Despite all appearances to the contrary, The Wooden Floor isn’t a dance studio. Instead, it’sa creative youth development nonprofit supported by long-term academic, college and career readiness and family support, offering things like free tutoring, one-on-one or family counseling, SAT/ACT prep and college tours. At the center of its students’ transformation — dance. Learn more about The Wooden Floor at http://www.thewoodenfloor.org