Hold hands and take a deep breath

While I was waiting for Cooper to show up, I got deep into Dancing With the Stars: Juniors. Celebrity kids (and some kids of celebrity parents) partnered up with young ballroom pro dancers and performed choreographed routines each week. The chance to watch talented, ambitious people go beyond their comfort zones is one of the great redeeming qualities of reality television, in my book, and that goes double for kids. They’re adorable, and they’re pure potential. On top of that, the show was so kind and gentle—no backstabbing, no mean judges, just effort and enthusiasm. A little like The Great British Baking Show, actually.

Many of the performances were beautiful, but one in particular—Sky Brown and JT Church dancing to “Unconditionally,” by Katy Perry—has stuck with me. Beyond feeling like a fairytale from start to finish, there’s a moment at 1:03 that I’ve returned to over and over. Right before Sky and JT move into the last part of the dance, they come together, face forward, hold hands, glance over at each other, and take a deep breath.

I imagine this moment of holding hands and taking a deep breath had to be choreographed that way, but believing that it was planned doesn’t make it any less moving. If it was planned, it was planned because their coach knew they would need a moment to connect and breathe deeply. If it was planned, that means they practiced it. If it was planned, they still had to remember to pause and do it.

We could all use moments of connection and deep breathing built into our routines. This performance gave me a new perspective on how beautiful just connecting and breathing can be.

Diana Berlin