The Great Hall

Taking a deep breath, I walked hesitantly through the already opened doors of the intimidating Great Hall. The other side seemed to be miles and miles away. The huge grey floor had strange, colorful markings on it that I wasn’t familiar with. All I could recognize was the Red Knight emblem that marked the center floor. An aged crucifix hung next to the clock. A row of big banners representing each class adorned the white brick walls, with mine, the brand new class of 2015, on the tail end. Older (much older) girls sat in little pods that freckled the vast floor, stretching and raving about the summer. I felt like their eyes were on me, judging my tights and bright orange shorts… the ones that had “DANCE” plastered right across the rear. I had thought those shorts were oh-so-cool up until that day. They were all wearing plain black—no sparkles, no bright colors, no frilly hair accessories… I stuck out like a sore thumb, and had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I felt so out of place. I was a scrawny, big-eyed, brace-faced eleven-year-old at the high school dance team tryouts.


I tried to mimic the older girls as they lead us through warm ups and taught us our audition routines. They were so good. They turned effortlessly, leaped to the ceiling, moved perfectly, and smiled… a lot. Dancing across the huge Great Hall floor seemed like crossing the ocean. I thought I was going to pee myself.


Looking back on my seventh grade audition, I can say trying out for the Knightettes was the best decision I made coming into BSM. Today, the name “Great Hall” takes on a whole different meaning for me. Other students just think of it as the place for mass or gym class; I think of it as the special place where I have matured over the past six years. Some of my favorite moments have taken place in the Great Hall: making varsity as an eighth grader, goofing off with my team, practicing a state champion dance. Even some of my most painful memories have happened in this place… being pushed to the brink of physical exhaustion, injuring myself, saying goodbye to teammates going off to college. The Great Hall is the place that marks my development as both a dancer and person. All the relationships, challenges, failures, and successes I have experienced here add up to a journey that I can’t fully capture with words.


Today, I walk eagerly through those wooden doors. The gym seems small to me now, especially when compared to the enormous collegiate gyms of my dreams. A new collection of class banners decorate the walls, with mine now at the end of the row. The same old crucifix hangs next to a caged-in clock, and all the markings on the floor remind me of every dance routine I have practiced here. The Red Knight that rests in the center brings back memories of six years of team prayers and emotional huddles… I sit on that same Red Knight with my 33 sisters. We stretch together, laughing uncontrollably over inside jokes and making bets on how hard practice will be. I look down at my all-black practice uniform—no more sparkles, no more frill, no more orange shorts. I stretch my exhausted muscles, now built for the rigor of dance team.


Today, I am the girl leading everyone through practice. I leap to the sky, turn without fear, move with my soul, and smile… a lot. This little gym is the sanctuary where I feel like I can be the best, most real version of myself. Dancing in the Great Hall feels like home.