What’s up, APC! My name is Chelsie Nacelus, a rising junior at Kent Place School, and I am thrilled to be a part of this amazingly inclusive family! I have been dancing since I was about nine years old, and despite how annoyed I was that one summer day to have to sign up for dance classes when my mom and I could have been devouring cold sundaes and comparing creamy mustaches, I am forever grateful to her and have loved doing it ever since. I’ll be the first to admit, however, that the road has not always been smooth. The late-night dance studio sessions where I learned to embrace the salty combination of sweat and tears trickling down my face is a testament to that. As exhilarating as it may feel to pirouette across the floor, grand jeté in a routine, or allow the amplified beats of the music to thrust your arms into the air, my love for dance stems from the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
The vivacious black leos on either side of me taught me to let your actions speak for themselves—
to be willing to accept a challenge every once and awhile
I learned to be confident.
The endlessly rhythmic claps that grew louder as she grew closer taught me to fight—
to keep going because “Ain’t nobody told you to stop”
I learned to be resilient.
The mocha limbs flowing out of a rosy tutu on the screen above me taught me to appreciate—
to recognize where I’d come from and where I could go
I learned to be unapologetic.
The contrasting white smile stitched into loving faces taught me to be proud—
to remember the black leos, rhythmic claps, and mocha limbs
I learned that the hard work is all worth it.
My love for dance is what I could say drew me to writing this piece. I learned to be confident and unapologetically me, and I learned to be resilient because true hard work is undeniable and at the end of the day will surpass any boundaries you thought stood in your way. Dance continues to teach me to bask in my kinky black hair, chocolatey brown skin, and determined overbite—everything that makes me, me.