Through the blog you have met some of my childhood, college, and newly developed friendships. Now it’s time to introduce a lifelong dance friend. As many of you know, dance was and still is an enormous part of my life. I started dancing at the age of 3 at my local studio, Nancy Carole School of Dance. Who knew that hopping around as a bunny on stage would lead to an enduring passion. The studio became my home away from home and dance was an escape from all my teenage angst. It served as an outlet for self expression and in this tiny space I forged friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Catina Crismale Gann is that “dance” friend who has become my forever friend.
Catina and I danced in classes for many years, but it wasn’t until we both auditioned for The N.C. Dance Company, that our friendship really skyrocketed. Company was a more rigorous and competitive schedule and we saw each other a lot more frequently. We bonded over our passion for dance, our love for the studio, and our eternal gratitude and admiration for our dance teacher Miss Nancy. While many of our high school friends were out socializing, we spent countless hours rehearsing and teaching classes at the studio. It was becoming our home away from home and Catina was my “dancing” sister. Never competitive or resentful towards our individual successes, but rather always supportive and encouraging. Our comradery was admirable.
A beautiful ballerina, Catina has always shined. I am in awe of her diligent work ethic both on and off stage. When she assumes and accepts a task or a challenge, she wholeheartedly embraces it. She is relentless and works tirelessly until she masters it to perfection. Whether it be landing her triple pirouette in dance, being an exceptional mommy, a devoted wife, or studying for a class, she never abandons her goals and obligations. Her overachieving nature is exhausting to watch. I can’t imagine living in her shoes on a daily basis!
I was super ecstatic when Catina decided to attend Muhlenberg College. I thought it would be so much fun to have an old dance friend away with me at school. Can I be honest? I can count on my fingers how many times I realistically saw her on campus! I forgot to mention, she was studying Pre-Med. That shouldn’t surprise anyone that knows her well. While most people drop this arduous major after a semester, not my girl Catina. Her type A personality was determined to study hard and make this conquest and dream a reality. If that meant giving up parties, spending hours in the library, and getting minimal sleep, so be it. Between her hectic and demanding schedule, my trip abroad, and life in general, we barely saw each other. I did, however, have the privilege of driving her to and from college over holiday breaks. During those drives, we would catch up on life and fill each other in. We had an undeniable connection regardless of the circumstances. This “dance” bond would keep us eternally connected.
We were present at each other’s weddings and the births of our precious girls. Catina and her husband Dave are the perfect match and compliment each other nicely. They have the sweetest daughters, Seraphina and Luciana, and have created such a beautiful life together. I also witnessed Catina incessantly, yet somehow seamlessly, attain her PhD, all while caring for her infant daughter and maintaining a household concurrently. This juggling act would have been enough for anyone to withdraw, however, it didn’t defeat Catina. Dedication, determination, and commitment, at it’s finest. Her path never wavered or faltered. That’s always been her motto.
When Catina asked me to dress her for an upcoming party, I was nervous. She has a hard time relinquishing control. I knew even though she wasn’t an avid fashion lover, she would still put up a fight!! Boy was I right. She was looking for a dress, but didn’t have time to meet, so I would be sending her different styles via email and text. I am not exaggerating when I say she shot down all of my suggestions!!! I kept reminding her to be open minded and remember why she hired me. Little by little, she began to unwind, and seemed slightly more enthusiastic with my choices! After what seemed like endless options and a lot of innocent banter, we settled on a blouse.
This experience was particularly enlightening for both of us. Not every client is going to be interested in shopping for the trendiest and most fashionable items on the market. I have to be more accepting of this notion and meet halfway. Baby steps are essential! Catina, however, learned that she needed to step out of her comfort zone and take some fashion risks, but most importantly, have fun!
Today my greatest passions have coincided; dance and fashion. Thank you Catina for entrusting and believing in me enough to attempt something new. I guess it’s true what they say: “friends that dance together, stay together.”
“The path to your success is not as fixed and inflexible as you think.”- Misty Copeland