Last night I had the pleasure of attending the MTSU Performing Arts Company (MPAC) semester showcase. I cheered, laughed, and cried for nearly two hours as I watched over 60 talented college dancers perform. It was incredibly moving.
Because Emily was involved with the dance company while she was at MTSU, they also dedicated the showcase to her and included a short presentation. Through each alumni member’s speech, the same observation occurred repeatedly: Dance was Emily’s passion, and she put her entire body and soul into every dance she did.
Dance Was Her Passion
One of the first things I learned about Emily in 2018 was the fact that she was a dancer. I could tell by the way she talked about it that dance was a huge part of her life. So huge, in fact, that she was getting a minor in it. What’s more, she was going to perform a solo that she’d completely choreographed herself in a showcase at the end of the semester.
As December neared, I knew Emily was excited and nervous to perform her solo in the showcase. At first, I wasn’t sure why this dance was so important and stressful. However, Emily eventually shared the idea behind the dance, and it all began to make sense.
The dance, which Emily had titled One Inch At A Time, was a choreographed representation of her battle with anorexia. She choreographed the dance to include a prop (a tape measure). On each side of the tape measure, she wrote the lies her eating disorder told her and recovery-oriented thoughts.
The idea was genius, and the dance itself was absolutely phenomenal. I remember being absolutely blown away the first time I saw a video of the performance. There was no doubt in my mind after watching it that Emily loved to dance, and I couldn’t believe how talented she was.
She Always Danced Full Out
As my friendship and romantic relationship with Emily blossomed, I had lots of opportunities to watch her dance. Although most of these moments were “just for fun,” I always loved them because Emily committed to putting everything she had into every dance she attempted.
She’d dance when we hung out with friends. In fact, there was a night where we introduced our friend Elissa to WAP by Cardi B, and Emily did the entire dance in the middle of her kitchen. Emily and I weren’t even dating at the time, but apparently the way I watched Emily as she danced let both Elissa and our friend Jen know that I had a huge crush on Emily.
There were also times when we went to Lipstick Lounge where Emily would end up dancing to the music. She didn’t care that people may be watching, and she didn’t care that she hadn’t warmed up: she just loved to dance.
After we started dating, we purchased Just Dance for the Nintendo Switch, and we played it fairly often. Emily got very into it, which meant she would also punch me when I won because, as she knew, I had zero dance skills — I just knew how to move the joycon on the beat.
And, of course, one of the last videos I have of Emily is one of her dancing with the kids inside an exhibit in the children’s museum in Chattanooga. I’ll cherish every memory and every video I have of Emily dancing because she always committed to her art and it was an absolute joy to watch.
The Dances That Never Happened
There are so many reasons why Emily’s death has been heartbreaking. When it comes to dance specifically, though, I can’t help but think about all the dances Emily had planned and never got to do.
I know we had plans for dancing at our wedding reception, and I was so excited. We had our first dance picked out, she had elaborate plans for her father-daughter dance, and we had an entire playlist of fun songs we wanted to cut a rug with. It was going to be incredibly fun, even if I was probably going to end up drooling all over myself watching her dance to some of the songs because, let’s face it, watching her do what she loved made Emily even more attractive than I already thought she was.
I also know that Emily desperately wanted to start dancing again. We ran into someone she knew from MPAC this summer, and they both discussed how much they missed dancing. One of the reasons we selected the townhouse we did when we moved in June was because the community has a dance studio that residents can use. She was ready to get back to doing what she loved since she was done with grad school, and I couldn’t wait to see her joyfully dancing again.
If I had to guess, she’s dancing often now. I just hate that I don’t get to enjoy it. But because Emily loved to dance, she touched the lives of many and found a great source of joy for herself. May we all be that lucky.
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