I tap danced for 15 years. Then all of a sudden I stopped.
By: Keaveny Hewitt
The black laces were tied in tiny, little bows, and the metal taps were screwed in perfectly to the bottoms of my shoes. I stood there, playing with my blonde braided ponytail, anticipating what was next to come. My feet sounded like raindrops hitting a window sill as I walked into the dance studio. Something happened in there that day—I discovered tap dancing, and my life was forever changed because of it.
I was a tap dancer for 15 years, from the age three until I graduated high school. It was my passion, it was what made me tick. I danced through grocery store aisles and shopping malls, and across every stage I could find. I started tap dance clubs at my schools, and taught tap dance to elementary school kids. It was my everything. But now, it’s been a year since I’ve tied the black laces on my tap shoes, and felt that feeling.
Some of you may have this same experience. You do something your whole life, dedicate every hour and ounce of energy into it and then BAM. You get to college, your schedule changes and you never get to do that thing again. That’s what happened to me and tap dance.
Over quarantine, I began to realize how my life wasn’t the same without dance. Tap was a form of expression for me, and often a form of stress release. The rhythm of my taps blending with the rhythm of the music was so soothing for me, and allowed me to become a musician too. I realized that tap was way more than just a hobby that I’d kept up with for the past 15 years. It was my passion, and it spoke to me.
Now if you’re like me, you may be confused on where to begin on revisiting this passion. Maybe you moved far away from your old soccer field, or maybe it doesn’t feel the same playing your guitar alone in a dorm room. I get that. Tap dancing looked different for me, and was much more of a hassle. I couldn’t find a campus dance studio with mirrors or speakers, and there wasn’t a community of tap dancers for me to jam out with at my college.
Before you get started on this passion journey, I recommend doing some self-reflection. How did that passion make you feel? What did your passion teach you? How have you changed without your passion? I personally found that the following “passion quotes” helped ground me in this reflection.
- “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” — Oprah Winfrey
- “Just because your life changes doesn’t mean that your deepest passions have to.” — Shannon Miller
- “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” — Ella Jane Fitzgerald
- “If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it.” — Wanda Sykes
The next thing I did was turn my thoughts into action. I craved that sense of schedule and order that I used to have, so I began to build my love for tap back into my schedule. I focused on what I loved most about tap, which was improvisation. So, every Sunday, I make it a goal to improv for 30 minutes on the balcony of my DC apartment. I grab my shoes, my wooden tap board and my earbuds, and go for it. Sundays have always been a day of reflection and peace for me, so that’s why I picked that day. Maybe you need a pick-me-up in the middle of the week, or want to ease into revisiting your passion by scheduling it once a month at first. Do what works for you.
My next tip is for you to find other ways for you to learn more about this passion of yours. For me, I’ve started watching dance videos on YouTube and reading books about tap dance. This allows me to enjoy tap without having to physically dance.
Below, I’ve attached a resource for my fellow students who need some help reconnecting with what they love. A change in location doesn’t mean your passion has to go with it.