The Spotlight


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1. New chapter

I was the best ballroom dancer in my league because I spent all my life training and rehearsing for perfection. My dream was to compete nationally for the first place title for the state of Maine. I could already see “Katlyn Jones” plastered on every headline of every newspaper and on the front of every magazine. That all changed when Riley Gates came into my life.

It was a Friday night when I first met her in the dance studio right after my practice. Apparently she had just moved in earlier that year and always wanted to pick up dancing where she left off when she was six. This time, she said she wanted to take it more seriously and stick with it. My first reaction was that she wasn’t to much of a threat to me because she showed up wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt. Immediately, I thought she was harmless to me because she was just starting and showed up wearing sweatpants.

I started talking to Noah who was my instructor and partner. He told me that she was signed up to compete in the nationals competition in a few months in the same age group as me. I decided to hang around a little bit and study my opponent and see what she was able to challenge me with (even though I thought she wasn’t much of a threat).

The music began to play as she danced to one of my favorite dances, the Cha Cha. Once she started, my mouth dropped to the floor as I stared at this girl and her partner dancing in unison, perfectly timed to the music. They had amazingly choreographed the dance and every turn and step was magnificent. I didn’t know what to do other than watch, trying to find something to criticize, but I found nothing. I went over to talk to Noah and see if he knew something I didn’t.

“Noah, how is she so good if she is just starting out?”

“I was told that she started about two years ago, but she still is amazing for someone that green. You might want to step up your game if you want a chance to beat her in nationals.”

He gave me terrible advice. She seemed so nice and friendly, but I could see right through her knowing that all she wanted to do was beat me at my own game. Well, the game was on. I whipped through the front doors of the studio ready to plan on how I was going to step up my game and show her who was boss.

I spent every hour for weeks practicing and training to beat Riley. Every turn had to be perfect and every step Noah and I took, had to be in perfect sync with each other and the music. I had no more time to practice because the first competition of the Nationals were starting. The way they set Nationals up is anyone willing to compete signs up and goes for the tryouts in order to qualify for the competition. That is done two weeks before the first competition where all the qualifiers will compete. After that, the top five move on to finals two months later where who ever wins that event will become state champion.

I met Noah at the studio after spending hours doing my hair, makeup and putting on my very sparkly blue dress. I was filled with rage ready to take first place and move on to finals and then become state champion. Hundreds of people showed up to support their dancers in hopes that they would do their best, but I knew that I was going to leave that day with first place. Riley showed up wearing a simple red dress matching her partner’s red shirt. I stayed focused, going over my routine and mentally preparing myself for the performance.

I went on just before Riley, performing the Waltz. The Waltz was always a favorite amongst the judges and when performed right, could be a great way to boost your score above the other competitors. I nailed every turn and step leaving the floor with a great score of 73/75. Riley was up next brushing by me as I left the stage.

I hated to admit it, but I was terrified to watch her performance because I didn’t want her to beat me. I cringed as I watched her perform. It felt like nails were digging into me everytime she turned, and there were alot of turns in her routine. Everything was beyond perfect and she just started! I kept thinking that she was somehow cheating, or that she was lying about her age or had secretly been dancing for her whole life and just wanted to psych me out. I had to stop thinking and just watch her finish. I almost dropped dead when the judges scored her and she had a perfect score of 75/75. No one has ever gotten a perfect score before and I would not stand it. I came in second place and the three winners moved on to National finals in two months and I would not let Riley beat me.

I practiced night and day with no breaks and little sleep or food. I was determined to do a new move called “The Deluxe” which has never been landed at a competition before. Landing that move on National finals would immediately boost me to a perfect score and would let me beat Riley.

Days passed and I still couldn’t land The Deluxe. It was almost midnight the week before national finals and I was still at the studio practicing. Noah came up with a cup of his famous hot chocolate trying to give me a break. I accepted his offer by taking the cup and sitting down next to him, staring at my reflection in the mirror.

“Katlyn, why does she get so into your head?”

“Because she doesn’t deserve first!... Ok, I realize that sounds selfish. What I meant to say was that I have worked so hard to get to this point of my dancing and then she comes along, always one step ahead of my every move with only two years under her belt.”

“And you of all people should understand that all that hard work will be worth nothing if you get hurt by pushing yourself too far.”

I ignored him and started practicing again. I was determined to get that move right even if it killed me.

Nationals came and I had one Deluxe landing under my belt from practice. I showed up ready to include that move but was shot down by Noah because I had only landed it once and needed more practice. Riley went before me and scored a 74/75. I was going right after her and when she walked past me, whispering so only I could hear her say “beat that second place”. I almost lost it, but Noah pushed me onto the stage before I could rip her hair out. I was furious and filled with rage ready to destroy that girl. Noah eyed me knowing that I was going to go for The Deluxe. All he could do was hope that I knew what I was doing and how it might affect me in the future in a good way or a bad way. I flew threw the air but didn’t get enough force for my turn and landed the wrong way on my foot. I felt my dream fade away as the pain grew more and more in my ankle until everything went black.

I woke up in the hospital with a cast around my foot. My life was over when the doctor told me the news that I broke my ankle and that it would take three month for it to possibly heal. After those three months he would re-evaluate it and see what would happen from there on. I still had hope until he told me that I would never be able to dance the same again. I went home and cried for three straight days. Riley ruined my life. If she never came into my life, I would have never pushed myself over the edge and ruined my dance career.

Actually, it wasn’t her fault. It was mine. I was so jealous that someone who just started out was better than me after years and years of practice. I was jealous of a Riley for beating me. I pushed myself to my breaking point ruining my own dance career. It was jealousy. It was jealousy that led me to my downfall.

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