All eyes were on me as I walked to my first class. I felt like a contestant on a game show who had been called up on stage to give her final answer.
It didn’t help matters that my first class was with Alona Neal. I’ve admired her for a long time. I think I was about 10
when I saw her in the stage performance of A Jazzy Day. She was amazing. From then on, Alona Neal was one of the dancers I looked up to and wanted so much to be like.
There she was, right in the front of the classroom. Her reddish highlights went well with her darkish hair and tanned skin. She also had light honey brown eyes which seemed to match her dance outfit, and as I looked around I noticed many of the dancers were like those I had admired all my life.
She smiled warmly at me. “Good morning. Uh, Mia, right?”
“Y-yes,” I stuttered.
“There is no need to be nervous. I am your instructor, Alona Neal.” I wanted to be calm. “Good morning, Ms. Neal.”
“Please, call me Alona.”
“Morning, Alona.” “That’s better.”
I heard whispers from the students behind me. I turned and saw a group of girls huddled together. One of them pointed right at me.
“Okay, class. This is our newest addition. Let’s give a warm welcome to Ms. Mia Gerard from Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
“Welcome, Mia,” said most of the class. “Ms. Strolls.”
The girl who pointed at me earlier looked her teacher in the eye. “Yes, Alona?”
“I didn’t hear you welcome Ms. Gerard.” “I was a bit distracted.”
“Well, please pay attention.”
“I’m sorry.” She rolled her eyes at me.
Alona sighed. “My apologies, Mia. Miranda needs to learn to use her manners in class.”
I shrugged. “That’s okay.”
Alona frowned. “Ms. Strolls, I will need to see you after class.” “Again?”
I’m taken aback by the way Miranda Strolls was talking to our instructor.
The teacher, however, seemed unaffected. “Well, let’s begin now with our warm-ups. And let’s go: 5, 6, 7, 8.”
Suddenly, I was glad I attended dance class back in Ann Arbor. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up now. Part of me begins to get overwhelmed by all the dancers. After all, they look like they’ve just come out of a big production number. Miranda is one of the best in the class. I don’t know if I will ever be able to match up to them, but I’m going to try.
“Okay, Mia. Let’s see what you’ve got, and 5, 6, 7, 8.”
The music started, and I decided to go with the contemporary dance routine I practiced with Keyla and Courtney. I’m not sure how Alona will like it, but I just let the music take me over. Dancing it now, I began to wonder what everyone thought. I was curious to see what Alona thought. Would she like it?
“Mia, that was a great way to begin in this class. Bravo!” I heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Alona.”
As the class applauded, I could see Miranda out of the corner of my eye. She was not pleased. She’s pointing at me again. For the time being, I was not going to let her bother me. I’m just happy Alona Neal loved my first performance.
“Way to go, Michigan,” yelled one of the guys in the class. I blushed and looked down at my feet. “Thank you.”
Alona clapped her hands together. “All right, all right, class. Let’s resume with today’s dance lesson.”
I know it was only the first day of class, but I’m glad it went as well as it did.
Now, on to the rest of my classes.
Later that day, I attended two more classes—one a ballet class with Patty Smith and another one with Alona Neal: Modern and Contemporary Dance.
Only a few of us were in the ballet class. Ms. Smith was a professional ballerina for about 15 years. When she retired, she decided to become an instructor of ballet and jazz. Her lessons included the poise and calmness of dance. We worked on standing on our toes and doing warm-ups.
“I was going over the basics with you, so once we began you are not lost,” she explained.
I really enjoyed the class and the students. Since it was only a small group of us, we all could engage on a more personal level.
“So, this is your first semester here?” asked one of the other girls. “Ah, yes. I am from Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
“Well, welcome to NYC. I am Lana, and I am originally from here.”
“Hey, Lana. I am Mia Gerard. Thank you for the warm welcome.” “Oh, it’s my pleasure.”
It was nice to interact with her. Then it was time for my next class. I was excited about the time I spent in the earlier class. The class was Modern and Contemporary Dance and hoped I could grasp it quickly. But for this first day I had a hard time trying to keep up.
Also, Alona Neal demanded more from all of us. “Now, Mia, you could do better. Let’s go.”
This was harder to hear. Just hours before, she loved my dance and the routine, but now she hates it? I’m confused.
“Look, Mia. Not all of us are cut out for this,” says Miranda. I blinked. “Excuse me?”
“I could see you’re struggling!”
I frowned and shook my head. “It is only my first day.” She shrugged. “Still, I know what I am seeing.”
I was shocked by her comment. I don’t even know her. When I got out of class, I was so upset I didn’t even have lunch. I decided to stay and practice at the studio.
Hmm, I am not cut out for this? I will show her.
Now I know for sure things were only going to get tougher, and I need to work harder.