Assistant Features Editor
Kim Saltzman gracefully spins on one foot, constantly going around in a perfected circle, yet somehow never getting dizzy. Her strategically placed blonde ringlets never move an inch out of place as she continues to twirl in place. All of a sudden, she falls out of her turn, and lands straight on the ground, barely making a sound. Curled up in a fetal position, she hugs herself, conveying the dramatic effect. Never letting the audience see her tears, she pauses in her spot, waiting for the curtains to close. Finally she gets up, hugs her friends, and lets it all loose. Crying not only because it was her last time performing the piece, but also because it was in dedication for her inspiration, her late father.
Typically considered more of an art form than a sport, dance doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Bloodied toes stain the inside of baby pink pointe shoes, but the dancer puts on a brave smile, never allowing the audience to see her pain. Leaping through the pain of a hyperextended knee is not for the faint of heart, yet no one can tell there is strain.
Growing up, Saltzman was a self proclaimed “Daddy’s Girl.” Her father, Lee Saltzman, was her role model, biggest fan, and now inspiration. Passing down his affection for trains to his daughter, Lee allowed Kim to be his second in command, him in the blue conductor’s hat, her in the pink. Later in life, Lee was diagnosed with dementia. While remembering may have been hard for him, Kim never forgot. Coping the easiest way she knew how, she danced.
For her senior piece in the theatre group, Best of Broadway, Saltzman decided to dance in honor of her father to a piece called “To Build a Home.” On October 16, just about a month and a half before her performance, Lee had passed away.
“When my dad died, that night I came to rehearsal. Moving gave me the chance to feel something positive. Dance was something that I have always used when something bad happens to me,” she explained.
In turn, a gut wrenchingly beautiful performance was born. Joined on stage by her co-choreographer and friend, Carolyn Sprowson, Saltzman danced like no one was watching her. Not only thinking of her father, she also danced for the people who helped her through the tough times, the people who made a home for her when her dad couldn’t remember.
“[It] was a tribute to the relationships that I have built with the people around me. The story was very special to Carolyn and I as it talked about our lives and our past present and future, and it was my final opportunity to say thank you and goodbye to those that created home for me.”
Although dealing with the loss of a family member is never easy, this wasn’t the first time Saltzman had to deal with the loss of life. Attending Newtown High School in suburban Conn. should have been like any normal high school experience. Football games, musical rehearsals and prom are all situations regular high school students have to deal with, but having the entire school in lockdown with a murderer nearby is not one of them. The notorious mass shooting of Sandy Hook Elementary School happened down the street from Saltzman’s high school in 2012. Being only 16 years old and hearing that 20 children were murdered less than a mile away from you with no explanation is extremely terrifying, but she decided to stay strong.
“I grew up in that school so I knew every corner of that building by heart. We were absolutely devastated as we heard the police and saw the helicopters in the sky. My school was never the same. My town was never the same. But we choose to be resilient and serve as an example.”
Experiencing a mass murder was not taken lightly by anyone in this quiet town where nothing ever seemed to happen. Having a population of only about 27,000 people, almost everyone knew at least someone in Sandy Hook Elementary. Whether it was a friend, family member, or neighbor, it touched someone in Newtown in at least some way. For Saltzman, it touched her soul. Again, the only way she knew how to get out her pent up frustrations was through what she knew best.
“ That day I left school and drove to my dance studio where I rehearsed a piece called ‘Amazing Grace.’ My studio was so supportive of me, and although I broke into tears, they all used dance as a way to cope with the feelings. It didn’t matter if my steps were right or wrong as long as I was moving.” she said. “ We never spoke of what happened that day, but slowly that dance became a dedication to Sandy Hook and is held near and dear to my heart.”
Now a senior at Springfield College, Saltzman never stops moving. Being a Health Science and Dance double major, with a deaf studies minor, and a concentration in clinical medicine doesn’t leave much free time for the dancer, but somehow she seems to make it work. While also being the Vice President of the Springfield College Dancers, Co-President of the Student Alumni Association, and an avid member of the theatre group Best of Broadway, Saltzman finds time to choreograph not only for herself, but her dance company back home.
One of her roommates, and best friend since freshman year of college, Maggie Kane, never gets to see Saltzman anymore, even though they live in the same Senior Suite.
“We literally share a wall and I never see her [because] there’s three places she’ll be. Usually in the dance studio, or she’s always in a class for dance, or she’s at something to do with Best of Broadway. She’s always doing something.”
Being as busy as she is, Saltzman knows it will all benefit her in the future. This semester alone she is taking an incredible 21 credits. Starting the Health Science program for now, she plans to transition into Occupational Therapy once graduate school comes around. As for her dance career, she is still unsure of where the path will lead her.
“As much as I am a dancer, my career and my income will come from OT. Dance is just more of something I’ll do for me. I have an education in it and I can go far in it, but there are so many options,” she said.
Grace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org