For what must have been my tenth birthday, my sister Christie bought me a ticket to the high school play she was performing in - A Midsummer's Night Dream. I sat there, with the lights low, transformed into a world of Shakespeare and romance, and felt a tingling, overwhelming, thrill spread through my body.
The Arts. I was bitten.
My soul lived for that thrill from then on. It would consume me while watching a touring ballroom team or a fellow dancer performing. And I felt it while performing myself. Backstage at a recital or competition, I reveled in the excitement awaiting me onstage. The lights, the hushed voices before the music began, and the experience I was about to have, collectively, with the audience.
Whether I felt it as a performer or an audience member, the thrill always lifted me, carried me to great heights, but then inevitably left me again, feeling somewhat lonely. A lonely girl in a small town, surrounded by people interested in other things, with maybe three chances a year to get those good-goosebumps.
Three chances a year is actually pretty good for a town like Blythe, but still not enough for someone so bitten.
Even though I left that town almost 10 years ago and had many opportunities to immerse myself in The Arts in college, I still remember other little girls like that lonely one, who would come up to me after dance recitals or play performances with starry eyes. I could tell that they felt the thrill, that they hungered for it, and couldn't find it often enough.
Which is why So You Think You Can Dance means so much to me. True Art, every week, straight through your television. Terms like "beautiful lines" and "Contemporary Dance" are now known and used by the mainstream public.
And starry-eyed girls everywhere feel a lot less lonely for it.