Alicia Kobrock is a ballet dancer.
No, you’ve never seen the name of this seventeen year old in lights or on the back of a glossy theatre program, but since the age of five, her feet have followed a chorographic path that has kept her family on their tiptoes.
The music that kept her heart singing has always consisted of family, faith and dance. But in August of 2002, her music modulated into a minor key when Alicia was told she had a high-grade cancerous sarcoma. Doctors urged an immediate and aggressive course of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
The cancer responded quickly to treatment, but the toll of the yearlong regiment kept her home sick and home schooled for her sophomore year.
Finally in the fall of 2003, she returned to public school where she enrolled in a photography class taught by Nikki Pahl. Ms. Paul issued a new challenge to Alicia’s artistic spirit when she asked her class to take a photo of something “near and dear.” Alicia immediately looked toward her ballet shoes as a possible subject for the photo.
The shoes, made of a material similar to plaster casts are called Pointe shoes. The shoes are specially fit for the dancer who is ready to move out of the soft slippers of the beginning ballerina.
“I thought of how hard I worked at dancing,” explains Alicia. “I thought of what it meant to get my Pointe shoes and how excited I was to be dancing, even though it hurt.”
So, she snapped a picture of the three pairs of toe shoes she’s worn in her career. The photo won First Place in her age group category in the 2004 California State Fair.
The first pair is the pair showing the most wear. They show the falls and tumbles of someone who has recently left the comfort and safety of flat shoes.
The second pair is the one that portrays her at the height of her dancing. They swirl with the confidence of someone taking new risks.
The third pair is the newest pair, which saw few dances before her doctor first diagnosed her with the cancer.
“Looking at the shoes reminds me of the friends I danced with. We saw each other’s mistakes and it was OK. It was a time of fellowship with girls who shared something amazing. I loved the elegance of ballet. It was almost magic-like. Dance is how you feel and being part of dancing is like being part of a song.”
The dancing she does these days can only take place on the stages of her memories, because in February of 2004, her cancer returned.
Now as Alicia looks at the prize-winning photo, she admits, “The Pointe shoes were just a chapter of my life and I’ve had to move on.” Yet, if one looks at the picture, a poem reveals just how important that chapter was.
The Poem is etched in the background and is called “Pointe in Time”
My shoes tell the story of memories,
fun times, and ballet friends,
Ever dear to my heart
Forever they will stay.
They were the shoes I was so proud to wear.
I danced in them and loved them,
They know my every step,
every fall, every thought
and my joy and my pain.
They were my dreams and expression
They called out my name
Oh, how beauty and elegance flow
from their ribbons
whispering old things.
As long as I love them
My memories will never fade.
For the moment, the cancer has stabilized, but it painfully exists throughout Alicia’s body. And on the painful days, Alicia looks to her faith in God for her strength. “God is the one who has kept me going. We pray for healing and until healing comes, we will believe that God is in control. He does amazing things. God is simply amazing!”
Isaiah 52:9 says, ” How beautiful are the feet of the messenger bringing good news. “And the message that Alicia’s lovely dancing feet bring is that God dances with us through the best and the most difficult times of life, and yes, Alicia,” God is amazing!”
Alicia’s not sure where her feet will take her next or what her next pair of dancing shoes will look like. But I suspect to Alicia those who know her by her faith, she will always be the most prima ballerina they’ve ever known.
Editors: Shoe graphic: large file size for download