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Stepping Up

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Stepping Up

A dancer who finally gets to say thanks.
Walter  Green
Walter Green More by this author
Oct 11, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Marla Bingham, a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is my Pilates instructor in San Diego. During one of our classes, I told her my story about taking a yearlong journey to thank the special people in my life. It clearly resonated with her. She decided to go to New York and visit some people she hadn’t seen in ages. She particularly wanted to pay a visit to Denise, a friend from the dance world, to tell her how she’d impacted her life.

Marla reminded Denise that she’d been the one who’d recommended that she audition for Ailey II, a newly forming dance troupe that was an extension of the original Alvin Ailey company. “I didn’t really know the company at the time and just took your advice, Denise,” she said. “I got in! Wow, what a chance! That was the beginning of one of the most important life-changing experiences of my dance career.”

Marla acknowledged that Denise’s suggestion was likely just a passing comment, but one that came at the right moment, when she was ready for the next step in her career. And it goes to demonstrate that we don’t always appreciate the impact we’re having on others or where it can take them.

Years later, the two women had another encounter in a workshop, and Denise encouraged Marla to choreograph her work in a way that reflected her Native American heritage. “It was you who allowed me to explore and find my identity in an area where I’m now one of the most prominent Native American choreographers, combining traditional tribal dance with ballet and modern,” Marla told Denise.

After Marla’s New York trip, the two women spoke on the phone. Marla took the opportunity to further let Denise know how much she was respected and valued, not only by her, but by others whom Marla had met over the years.

There was often so much silence on the other end of the phone that Marla thought she’d been disconnected at times. “I didn't realize how special this would be for Denise,” she told me. “It started to make me feel so emotional to hear that silence, which meant that she was listening very attentively to my story. It was a great feeling, I must say. To express what someone has meant to you is a profound and powerful feeling.”

Months later, Marla learned just how much her expression of gratitude had meant to Denise, who’d been suffering from a serious medical issue for some time. Denise said that her old friend’s words had been a constant and powerful reminder that she was still capable of doing important work, and it sustained and inspired her during these difficult times.

Marla became emotional telling me this story. She’d clearly experienced the power of expressing profound gratitude, as well as the impact it can have on the recipient. Marla clearly “stepped up” many times during her distinguished dance career, but I doubt that she ever felt more appreciated and valued than when she “stepped up” for Denise and told her what she had meant to her in her life.

About Author
Walter  Green
Walter Green was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Harrison Conference Services for 25 years, during which time it became the leading executive conference center management company in the U.S. He was an active member of the Young President’s Organizat Continue reading