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I'm standing in a dark theater wing on a Saturday in March doing the usual—emceeing at my dance competition and watching countless young ladies in baby-doll chiffon dresses with rhinestone-choker necklaces dance about love gone wrong.

And next up: a 12-year-old without a professional costume or makeup, obviously a novice, and she's looking pretty ordinary. She takes the stage. I look out at her for a moment and figure she's got about two minutes left, so I do something like take a sip of water or tie my shoe or look down at my notes. For some reason, I glance back out at her and...BAM! That child is dancing like there's no tomorrow. What's up with her? I can't look away as she works herself into whirling, pulsating vapor. What she lacks in technique, she is more than making up for in...gosh, what is that? Guttural, undulating, raw, razor-sharp intent.

Something washes over me, and I begin to connect the dots.

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