Oct 08, 2021

Teen Scene

By Lori Draz and Abigail Sessa

Welcome to Teen Scene. This month’s author is 16-year-old Abigail Sessa, a junior in Colts Neck High School. Her friends call her Sessa, and she has met many of them throughout her study of dance. In dance, Sessa found her joy along with a deeper understanding of teamwork and support. When she began instructing others, she earned an even deeper understanding about sharing. Pursuing your passion can enrich your life and the lives of many others. Here is Sessa’s story.

At one point in my life, I was a soccer player, basketball player, swimmer, baker, Girl Scout, and played the flute and piano. Even at an early age, my heart and spirit were open to all possibilities. These excited me, made me curious and interested in participating.

I eventually realized there are only 24 hours in a day, so I had to make choices. Someone once told me to find that one thing that is a bright light within. It is your passion and joy. It wasn’t long before I knew dancing made me the happiest!

With little bare feet, my sisters, Isabella and Sophia, and I twirled, strutted and laughed to the music in our favorite place to dance: the kitchen. My mom was the audience and followed us as we branched out to the playroom, living room, our bedrooms and basement. It’s amazing how something that began so innocently grew into my young life’s journey.

My original dance debut was at 3 years old, when Mom enrolled us in “Mommy and Me” class at the Colts Neck Dance and Performing Arts Academy, which became my home away from home for the next 13 years. And so it went, from ballet and tap, to include all the genres offered by Miss Sheri and her talented staff. What made this special is that my two older sisters danced at the same studio. I learned to dance with them and because of them. I wanted to be like them. Dance became a bond that strengthened us, and I know will last the rest of our lives. 

It was never enough when it came to dance. I would sacrifice just about anything to make class, to perfect a solo routine or learn new choreography. Practicing for the recitals, the competitions, the special events – such as the annual Tree lighting at Colts Neck Town Hall – were difficult, but in the end, it was rewarding. I kept challenging myself to a higher level of performance, but I believed there was much more to do. 

It was at this point I began to feel the need to share my love of dance with others. I asked to be an assistant to the dance instructors for the youngest being taught. This experience was like no other. It was just a little effort for me, but it was so appreciated by the students. They made me want to do my best for them. During the lessons, I was always aware of my actions, and I examined them all. Was I patient, encouraging, clear in my directions and quick to help those who were having difficulty? It was my wish not only to model the dance steps and routines, but to be caring and kind. 

There was never any doubt that Colts Neck was my choice for high school. I attended school with only Colts Neck kids, and now this school offered new friends and opportunities. I joined the dance team. Dancing and cheering with my teammates, with bleachers filled with fans, is always fun and exciting.

This past summer, I had another opportunity to share the love of dancing. My dance friends and I volunteered at a shore community camp that needed volunteers to bring performing arts to the kids. And that’s exactly what we did! Together with the campers, we planned a show, picked the music, choreographed the dance and invited the families to watch. Their children, through dance, learned to prepare, have patience, cooperate, work hard, share with others, take initiative and understand the meaning of “one for all and all for one.” My friends and I realized these were the lessons we learned through our dedication to dance. As a bonus, we had also become lifelong friends.

My friends encouraged me to study ballroom dancing. I fell in love with it when I was 10 and started watching “Dancing with the Stars.” Ballroom dancing has introduced me to a whole new world! I remember saying to myself that one day that would be me on TV. The dancer’s cultures, ethnicities, ages, styles and abilities are so diverse. In no time, I was hooked on the movements, the music and the beauty of the dances – and the challenges too. One of the biggest adjustments was dancing with a partner. Practice is intense, exhausting and many times frustrating because there is so much to learn. I’ve left practice sore, but I know it is all worth it. I started competing in national competitions with my partner, Greg. We won first place in multiple dances at the Empire Dance Championship in Jersey City earlier this year. I am grateful to him, my friends, my teachers, and I am most appreciative of my mom and dad, who continue to give me every opportunity to pursue my dreams of dance and are always in the audience cheering me on. They are my forever role models.

If there’s something you like to do, share it with someone. You will gain such a deeper insight into why your favorite activity is meaningful. In a world where there’s so much electronic communication, you’ll see sharing and teaching bridges the gaps and makes you feel fulfilled.