“Love is Forever”: An Étoile Original by Annie Honebrink

Ballet has been in my heart since I could walk—a whisper telling me to dance. I have followed that whisper my whole life. Dancing has been a dream, a passion, and a reality. It is my voice, my soul. It soothes that ache inside that pounds and pleads to be heard. Ballet is a love—and love makes you leap.

If I have learned anything from these past nine years, it is that dreams do come true—but they take work, dedication, and hope. I have learned that even the dreams that crash or die were worth the journey. I have learned that even when I am not dancing the music will still whisper to me, and my soul will still sing.

Goodbye is an ache, reminding me of the many arms which have held me up, cheered me on, and helped me grow. Goodbye is a gasp—a sharp realization of the part of me that I can’t bring along. Goodbye is freedom. It is a leap into the bright, fresh New. I stand on the theater stage and stare out at the empty chairs whose seats have been filled with hundreds of audience members who have watched me grow up. You have cheered me on and taken this journey with me. Thank you for watching me dance. Thank you for reading my words. Thank you for joining in my art.

The work ahead is intimidating, but the stirring in my heart reminds me that it is worth it. As I close my eyes, I sift through the many dreams swirling around inside. I feel them whispering loudly. There are big ones, small ones, blurry ones and clear ones. I smile—because I don’t dream alone anymore. I have opened my heart again and shared all of those pieces of myself. I take a deep breath and let it out—because love doesn’t grip my heart, it holds it. Gently it allows me to seek and discover the person I was meant to be. I hold his hand, he squeezes mine, and we take the leap. Happily Ever After isn’t an ending—it’s a journey, and Once Upon a Time can be forever.

Love is Forever initially appeared in Cinderella’s issue of Étoile in April 2019.