New York Daydream

Iris Ramirez Alvarez dreams of dancing in New York City. Photo by Piper Edwards Sugg


Iris Ramirez Alvarez

The sky was overcast, silver and gainsboro. Not one ray of sunshine trickled in through the dull sky of New York City. It appeared sad, matching the way I felt. It was just yesterday when I had left everything behind—my friends, family, freedom, everythingleaving with no hesitation. The fear and excitement in my body battled to overthrow one another as I followed my dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. I had one chance to prove to myself that I was doing the right thing. I was about to audition for the School of American Ballet (SAB). There was nothing more I wanted in the world than to accomplish the only dream ‘little me’ had. I wanted to feel the acceptance of a large crowd as I danced on stage, to taste perfection. It all felt surreal. 

The school was surrounded by urban architecture. The sounds of cars whirling by and honking at each other masked the beautiful sound of a street musician showcasing his talent to survive in the large city. It seemed as if everyone had come to New York to make dreams come true. Its beauty only made me eager to stay, eager to eat, breathe, sleep, and dance. I took a couple of steps towards the main entrance of the grand building and stopped to take it in. I took a deep breath and proceeded to make my way up the stairs.

Inside, there were hundreds of students all there for the same thing. It struck me like a cord, realizing I was one of many. We were all here for the same thing. 

As I looked around my insecurities rose. There were beautiful girls everywhere. Girls with porcelain skin, long necks, ribs protruding from their medium sized torsos, their legs and arms long enough to touch the sky, the ideal ballerina. My height and weight didn’t help me at all. I was petite compared to these girls. My confidence slowly started to drift away from my body. Intimidated, I looked down, brushed off my thoughts and began to stretch and put on my pointe shoes. I mentally and physically prepared to dance. 

As I watched each group enter the studio, which was surrounded by mirrors, I felt my stomach sink. Each audition was more powerful than the previous. In the corner, I saw a girl wiping away tears. Was she in pain? Or just nervous? I couldn’t tell. Emotion inundated the room. The scrawny girl took me back a couple of years to when I first became a dancer. It was the summer of 2013. I was in the left wing of the stage watching the performance that came before mine. The dancers were all rhythmically together; the light hitting their painted faces. I was counting the beats as they went by and bit on my nails nervously. I felt a wet tear roll off my rosy, makeup-caked cheek. I was appalled as to why I was crying. It was the first time I had felt extremely nervous. The first time I felt pressure to be perfect. A loud voice brought me back to reality as I realized my group was next. 

“Group number six, you are free to improvise on the next piece,” the tall, pale faced woman spoke monotonously. The group spread out across the room. Different types of dancers materialized. The more confident ones stood at the front, whilst the shy ones stuck to the back. Unsure of where to go, I stood in the middle to stay neutral. Before I knew it, Le Cygne (the swan) by Carnival of Animals started playing. 

I could feel my palms getting sweaty and my breath escaping my lips. I began to dance, letting the rhythm move me. Out of the corner of my eye four people were sitting down at a table, each one eyeing down every dancer in the room, including me. I felt pressure and realized they were judging me. I tried to stay calm and continued to dance while keeping a soft smile on my face.

 Once I got more comfortable, I started feeling the music, embracing the emotion. I felt my confidence drop as I realized they were cutting people as we were dancing. The sudden stress made my legs weak and I began to lose balance. The song ended. I followed all the other dancers, and stood in fifth position with my hands behind my back, my fingers playing with each other as the nervous rush overcame my body, anticipating a decision.



The blaring sound of my alarm woke me up, interrupting my dream. Still drowsy, I turned to my side to hit the snooze button, hoping I could get a few more minutes of sleep. Defeated, I pushed off my blankets and sat up. I sighed as I replayed my dream over and over again, wishing it was reality. It was a very cloudy day in Springfield, almost like my dream in New York, only lacking excitement and ambition. Outside, the same view from my window remained untouched. There stood the big tree that I saw each morning, surrounded by apples scattered on the ground waiting to decay, and the sad rusty swing set, slightly moving with the smallest gust of wind. It had been almost a week that the same dream came up in my sleep, a sad reminder, showing me how different my life was compared to what I wish it were. Everyday was repetitive, lacking adventure, and freedom. Not one day passed where I didn’t feel tied up, as if the world conspired to keep me from following my dreams. I felt weighed down. The last time I had ever set foot in a dance studio seemed forever ago. I was scared to go back, afraid that it was too late to try to get back up. New York City was a world I longed to experience. I’ve set aside my dreams to focus on school, my dreams only surface during sleep. 

As much as I wished to dance amongst the best dancers in the world, there was a voice inside of me repetitively telling me that it wasn’t worth trying, that I couldn’t live the life I wanted. I have always been caught up living up to everyone’s else’s standards, burying my dreams. 

I had to focus on what mattered most, making something out of my life. I was pulled in so many directions by so many people, constantly contemplating whether the decisions I made were the right ones. I was stuck. I wanted to fulfill everyone’s expectations and had forgotten that mine were just as important. 

I wanted freedom. I wanted to dance, travel, and create my own path, face my own struggles, as well as overcome them. 

The idea of failure scared me the most. I was afraid of making impulsive decisions that ended in regret. I hated the thought of failing myself, and disappointing everyone. It took a while to realize how much I was tearing myself down, but over time I realized I was the only person that mattered when it came to my future. No matter how different my life is in my dreams, in reality, I am the same girl with the same burning desire. 

I walked outside to my backyard, slowly breathing in the smell of raindrops on the wet grass. I could hear the faint chirping of the birds chasing each other in the sky. I sat down on a chair, the metal cold from the morning fog. My brown eyes overlooked the tall pine tree missing a few branches that had been taken out by the strong winds over night. I then looked over at the dried out rose bush, as well as the plants that lacked life as they slowly wilted from the deficiency of sunshine. As much as I hated this town for being so different from what I wanted, I felt a sense of relief. My mind was clearer than ever. I could feel my doubt vanishing away from my body, replaced by a new sense of confidence. 

As I looked around at the familiar landscape of my backyard I realized: This was my New York. This world that seemed so sad at times was mine, and I was the only one who could change it. It was time for me to stop dreaming about the life I had always wanted, and start making it come true. I told myself I could be whatever I wanted. I felt at ease. 

It started to drizzle. I looked up into the sky and saw the hazy stratus clouds hovering above me. I hopped off my seat and walked out to feel the cold drops of water hit my skin, causing shivers down my spine. It was freezing, but I didn’t mind. I felt comfort, for it was the first time in a long time where I felt good about myself, and what lay ahead. I spun around with uncontrollable joy as the rain poured harder, each drop hitting my nose and eyelashes. I set off on my journey to make my dreams finally come true.