Gracefully klutzy

By Madeline Pena | Published Thursday, June 16, 2011

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People look at ballerinas and instantly think “grace.” Let’s just say, in the real world, grace is not my specialty. I’ve tripped over air. I’ve fallen on my face while dancing, which resulted in a trip to the hospital to check out my black eye. I’ve sprained my ankle attempting to perform a ballet move I hadn’t even been taught yet.

Madeline Pena

Madeline Pena

Yes, I’m a ballet dancer and a klutz. You may look at me and wonder how someone so tall can coordinate her long, awkward legs to the sounds of classical music. I manage.


The other day, my family and I sat down to watch old home videos. I looked at my mom and asked, “Why did I always seek attention and put on shows for the entire family? It seems like I never sat still.”

My mom just laughed and said, “Yes. You were a busy child, but I knew your energy needed to go somewhere.”

She enrolled me in dance classes at Wise Dance Center to release this “energy.” I was 4 years old.

My first dance class felt like a dream. I remember watching my dance instructor Karen Smith and her assistant Andrea Evans, hoping to one day have the capabilities of their grace. I watched as Andrea executed a perfect arabesqu for the class. I remember talking about Andrea for days to my family. I thought her dancing was absolutely magical, and I knew I wanted to create the feeling within myself.

Twelve years later l finally did. We showcased “Cinderella and the Glass Slipper” last weekend where I danced the role of the Fall Fairy. There was a moment when I extended my leg to the side. It was strange because in rehearsals I found it uncomfortable. But on this night, I just breathed, and my leg was there. The rest of the dance felt like walking.

You could say it was the result of countless rehearsals, but I simply believe it was the magic of grace.

Dance is a different form of expression. It is used to tell a story without speaking. To me, dancing proves the axiom: “Actions speak louder than words.”

I felt graceful and the farthest thing from klutzy. I felt like nothing in the world could knock me off the tips of my toes. Even if something did, I knew there would be a 99.9 percent chance that the fall would be graceful.

I am a dancer. Wow! Someone as klutzy as me can say that. I guess the magic I feel from dance comes from the joy that rushes through me when I execute a move with grace.

In a world filled with so many ways to trip and fall, I feel safe when I’m dancing.

One Response to “Gracefully klutzy”

  1. You’re a beautiful girl and a beautiful dancer. I’ve enjoyed watching you on stage over the years!

    Bonnie Scroggins


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