Friday, December 3, 2010

Just One More Dance

by Renee Baker

I remember it as if it were yesterday: the stone buildings of Sarajevo remained to burn for nearly an eternity. We woke up that morning knowing that we may have our last dance tonight. People left and right were starving to death and for the most part, all hope was lost. Every day in the war was an eternal struggle and this one was no different. It was around four in the afternoon and my fellow dancers and I were preparing for our performance. The crowd of 400 was anxiously waiting while the soldiers were protecting the perimeter of The National Theater. The encouraging conversation exchanged in the dressing room set the mood for the rest of the night. I didn’t know the names of the people who were attending the show; however, we were all connected on a level of rapture. We were all risking our lives for the love of the art, freedom of expression, and fulfilling desire of living our lives to the fullest.

We chose to perform Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ because the piece is traditionally danced barefoot and some of us no longer had ballet shoes (AP Online, War Cake). Due to the lack of electricity, our equipment was powered by a generator, which in turn caused the quality of our sound and lights to diminish. The dim lights made it difficult for us dancers to keep our orientations; however, stopping was the last thing on our minds. The repetitive nature of music combined with our circular movements in machine like matter powerfully portrayed the dread of living in war, persistence and determination to survive it (War Cake). The deep crimson color of the costumes symbolized the unnecessary bloodshed experienced for nearly two years. Not only was the color an accurate representation of the bloodshed, it also represented the life and pride that still runs through the veins of us who are still alive. 
Sarajevo was under fire during the entire performance; however, that did not stop everyone from enjoying the show. The audience was so captivated by what may have been our last dance, and potentially their last show, that they applauded and demanded an encore.

I learned three important lessons during the performance. First and foremost, I learned to never give up: no matter how difficult the endeavors are. Just because someone is attempting to oppress you, doesn’t mean they will be successful. You are in charge of your own life, and no one can change that. Second, desire is the driving factor behind staying alive and remaining joyful. Regardless of how much strength or intelligence one has, if one lacks the desire to live life to the fullest, happiness will not be present at all. Third, I learned that providing joy to others through art brings the utmost joy to oneself. When I was performing alongside my colleagues, I felt a shared bliss among the audience and us. It was during that show that I made it my mission to never miss an opportunity to make others happy through the art of dance. Art represents humanity at its best and as long as I am alive, there will be ‘Just One More Dance’ left in me.


The Associated Press (1994). Samir Krilic. Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ballet Has Returned to Bosnian Capital. Retrieved May 12, 1999 from

Beekman, L. F. (2004). War Cake. A Witness in the Siege of Sarajevo. Clearwater. Linda Flynn Beekman. 

Just One More Dance © 2010 Renee Baker. All Rights Reserved.

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