Karla before and after dancing.
Dancing is known to have powerful, sometimes life-transforming, effect on many people’s lives.
Please read this unedited letter written by one our Dance With Me students, Karla Kirsic, on how dance has helped her lose weight, given her an outlet in times of sorrow, helped her gain confidence, meet new people, and enrich her lives in ways only she can describe…
“When I wrote a letter last year, for my 1st anniversary, I promised myself to make it a tradition. Simply because, in life, if there’s one thing you have to do, is to be grateful. Grateful for every sunrise and sunset you get to experience and all the lovely things in between cause in a heartbeat, everything can be gone.
I say that 9/27/10 is my new birthday. Or rebirth day. My own mother has some trouble from time to time with accepting that fact but when she stops and thinks about it, she knows it’s true. There’s absolutely nothing that Karla after that date and Karla prior that date have in common besides blood related family and the name. I was transformed inside and out in the best possible way. And my first DWM year was all about that, the physical transformation, knocking down mental walls I’ve built, coming out of that comfortable bubble I’ve created for myself to hide from life. It was a magical year, a beginning of so many things, like sharing so many wonderful moments with amazing people, and in the process, making friends for life. If the first year was about me finally finding myself, my 2nd one was definitely about realizing that family means more than only blood. Although I came to US year and a half before joining DWM, only when I came into DWM studio, I finally felt I truly belonged to something. I felt at home, I felt understood, I felt like a part of a family.
And DWM is MY family. Period. Because there’s no other word to describe a group of people who stuck by me in this past year. And I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened to me hadn’t I had that kind of support while I was watching my uncle fade away in front of my very own eyes. A man who shared my American dream being himself one of the dreamers, who welcomed me in with his open arms and who stepped in as my 2nd dad because my own was thousands of miles away. Man who was strong as a rock, working in the tunnels, but who wasn’t able to get up from a toilet seat and was crushed when I, his little niece, had to pick him up. Watching him lose his battle with cancer would’ve been million times worse hadn’t I had my rock, my DWM family. Knowing that I could come in and just “lose it”, meant everything to me. I couldn’t cry in front of my already distraught aunt or my pregnant cousin. I had to be the one holding their hand and being their shoulder to cry on. So I had to have my release, my shoulder to cry on. And I did. I had/have Steve who was/is always there for me, reading my face since the moment I walked in, knowing exactly how to get me through it. Never ever would’ve I thought I would be grateful for hearing his death threats in Russian and think of them as music to my ears, as something to make me smile, but they were just that Or Liza telling Alex and Steve, after I was on the verge of tears talking about my uncle’s latest bad medical report: “I got this, I got her.” and then all 3 of them having me in a group hug just because. Or Nicole’s reassuring “It’s ok to let go” in the middle of what was supposed to be our 1 on 1 training/conditioning and allowing me to let it all out, all the frustration, the fear, all in an ugly cry and then hugging me tight (and I really needed it). All the tears I let go because I knew it was ok to do so, because MY family was there for me, there to pick me up, to comfort me, to give me strength I needed. I won’t forget the phone call I got minutes after I sent a message to the studio that my uncle passed away. First thing I heard was Gina’s voice saying “I’m so sorry. Do you need anything? What can we do? “ then passing the phone to Arley telling me that either of them can stay on the line with me if necessary, if that will make me feel better in that sad and painful moment.
When I was hit by a car on a crosswalk in front of school, I didn’t have a heart to go to my aunt who was 24/7 in the hospital watching her husband dying, I couldn’t freak out or cry in front of kids in school or call my parents overseas and give them a heart attack. No. I went “home” to SoHo, to MY family, where first I got yelled at for not going to the doctor and then was hugged tight by Jess, asked if I was ok, then Alex gave me painkillers for the bruise on my forearm size of Texas and made sure I took them. And till this day, besides my best friend, my DWM family is only one who knows about that accident.
Yes, many times during this past year I complained and wasn’t too happy with all the happenings, with all the changes that were made. But isn’t that what family is all about? Every family argues, because each member is entitled to voice its own views and opinions on certain issues, that’s just the way it is, and that’s the way it should be. But at the end of the day, and that’s the European in me talking, family always sticks together. I’m very grateful to have DWM family in my life. I’m 100% product of DWM and that’s no lie (I never ever took a ballroom lesson anywhere else before or after I found you). You gave me more than I’ll be able to give back to you. But know you have my love, my gratitude and my respect. Stepping into my 3rd year, the focus is on growing and evolving as a dancer and as a person, with hope that it can only get better. Looking forward to things to come.
In the end, I want to especially mention few people that had been the ones I most relied on in this past year:
Steve. He went above and beyond his call of duty to be there for me, and even when I had my doubts at one point about staying or leaving, he was the primary reason why I dismissed that idea and scratched it out of my head. He’s a great person and an amazing teacher. I’m one very lucky student.
Jess. I’ve seen plenty of front desk girls in my 2 years in SoHo. There are only few I bonded with. Jessica is most definitely one of them. I don’t show up one day and she makes sure to find out why. I annoy her daily but whenever I need anything, she’s there, no questions asked. There’s no cheesecake I can make that can repay for everything she’s done for me and still keeps on doing. What would I do without her.
Eugene. I guess this year was about me getting to know him better. And although I tell him many times how I’ll kill him (I did elbow him good once), I can’t be but thankful to him for being there to listen and help out. And some things he said to me actually made me see some things in a different light and that was just what I needed to move on and let go of some unnecessary thoughts. And prepping with him for his August challenge was very insightful and a great learning experience for me. I believe I benefited more from it than he did.
Alex. Thank you is not enough for all the support he has given me, all the advices and just for being an ear that was willing to listen. I was shocked but also very happy for him when he moved on from SoHo onto bigger things. SoHo is the way it is cause of his time and dedication he put into it. Ask any veteran or former students and they’ll tell you that the energy, the vibe, the core of the SoHo family started with him and now is being carried on by the rest. And even though he’s not there like he was before, I know I can always turn to him. And I definitely don’t mind being called Alexa by students and staff, and although dubbed that way cause of my new hair color, for me it means that I’m perceived as one who’s dedicated to that place almost as much as he is.
I had a privilege to work and be taught by not one but two amazing female instructors, and even more amazing human beings. Each of them, even though different in approach and style, gave me so much and I can’t thank them enough.
Liza was there from the beginning and she found a crack in my thick armor and broke it. Till this day, whenever on the floor or in the practice I always ask myself “how would Liz do it”. And although I’m older, I always tell her I want to be her when I grow up J And knowing I can turn to her for advice at any time, means a lot.
Nicole and her very straightforward, no bs attitude was a true medicine for me to keep pushing forward when I thought I have no more strength in me to do so. He made me believe that I can do more and that I’m worth more. And because she is always so brutally honest, I believed her. And whenever I want to doubt myself, I go back to something she told and push on. Having her as teacher, knowing she’s there for me, priceless.
Here’s to many DWM anniversaries to come.
Your Dance Withe Me SoHo Girl ”
Share your thoughts… How has dancing improved your life?