Discovering what dance really is about, and through dance, life.
Each night I dream of endless pirouettes, the swell of the orchestra, the glitter and the pomp of the world which is my fantasy. I wake each morning to the faces of ballet superstars, to elastic legs and stick-figure waistlines, to beautiful arches and jaw-dropping arabesques. These posters, plastered all over my room, smile gracefully at me, mocking me with the ease of effortless motion.
In the evening, I make the treke to class. I strap on my pointes and follow the other girls to the barres, before the wide, frightening expanse of all-seeing mirror. I stand a giant amoungst Santa's elves, contorting into poses like circus performers as I struggle against my long, tight legs, struggle into my splits.
Ms. Rhonda makes her entrance - a merciless, wicked queen. Even the most talented of girls wither under her unforgiving wrath. Nevertheless, there are the favorites - students that can twirl their way into impressive triple pirouettes en pointe, others earning her precious praise, her attentions, for reasons I know not. I am not one of these girls.
She is the master of our game. She encourages vigorous, brutal competition and biting envy throughout our small, insignificant group, whether on purpose or not. She gets in our heads and plays with our minds. She laughs at us, she jeers and sneers, scoffs and rattles on and on in meaningless lecture. Never will we at the bottom of her pile understand her unusual ways.
But I try to forget it all when the music starts. The notes, the melody, flows through to my fingers, seeps into my heart. It is a warm, glowing emotion; the feeling of pure elation. My long, clumsy limbs feel as light as air. I cannot throw my leg around as many of the others can, but I am confident in my ability to perform, even when the only audience is that ever-watching mirror.
She does not see any of that. She sees my bad turn-out and my low arches, my inflexible legs. I press myself to the extremes, press against the boundaries of my body, to satisfy her demands - yet it is not enough.
It will never be enough.
I watch helplessly as cast lists are posted, choreography placed, and feel a growing frustration at my back-of-the-line positionings. Some days it eats away at my love for dance; my anger, my sadness, multiplying day by day even as I improve.
I tuck it away - refusing to accept the reality of the situation - telling myself each night that if I keep improving as I am, then she will have to take notice.
I strive tirelessly to keep my dreams of tutus and tiaras alive. I continue to press harder and harder, yet headway was scarce. As I push myself, push the body not made to match my heart, the injuries started to arise.
The blood, sweat, and tears were coming on more often, and Ms. Rhonda and ballet were starting to wrap me up like some poison snake, squeezing me tighter and tigher despite my resolve, my ever-throbbing passion.
Some days there would be a release, a glimmer of hope, a vague form of praise, only for the snake to grab tighter than ever before - reopen the wounds and deepen them.