A Cheshire Grin

People notice my smile. Apparently it is a wonderful smile. I don’t know why, but it’s true that many people, from complete strangers to friends, comment on it. I’ve even had people comment on my Cheshire grin. Apparently I smile mischievously on occasion.

Yesterday in ballet I was thinking about smiling. Teachers always try to remind you to at least look pleasant while you dance in class, and breathing and smiling are two things they often give as corrections to the very concentrated students. Moi included.

I used to have smile contests in my ballet classes when I was in high school dancing at a local studio. I almost always won, or tied for first with my friend Sarah. It wasn’t hard to do because dancing was so much fun.

Then I went to college for dance, and I realized how serious it was. I realized how behind I was and how hard I needed to work to reach the level of everyone else. I stopped smiling. 

Smiling in dance class felt wrong. If I was to prove how dedicated I was and how hard I was working, there could no longer be smiles. It was still fun. It is still fun, but it had to at least look like serious stuff. 

I am very concerned with what other people think of me, and I’m trying to correct that, but it’s a process. So the idea that my teacher thinks I’m not serious about dancing is unthinkable. I wonder how many other dancers are like this. I was looking around class yesterday when our teacher said to smile and no one did. (This also incites a bit of peer pressure in me.)

Why? Why not smile in class?

I miss those days of smile contests at the barre. I miss allowing myself to light up while expressing my passion. I’m still afraid that I’ll come across as the opposite of a serious dance student, but there is plenty to be serious about in this world. Dance is life, and life should be happy, and I want my smile to last in this place longer than I do.

`All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowlybeginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. ~Lewis Carroll

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