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Oct 02

Ballerina Girl

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When I was a child, back before my parents divorced and I became jaded and bitter, I used to sleep with my bedroom door open. I could see the hallway and the staircase from my bed. There were charcoal shadows tinged with creamy pale gold from the light we always left on downstairs. Sometimes I would awake in the middle of the night and stare out into that grayish gold blur, and sometimes, I would see a ballerina. Not a real person, just a spectral outline conjured by my sleepy imagination. She was a mass of plum and green and magenta lines, all twisted and tangled together to form a tall, lithe ballerina. The lines of her transparent body would shimmer and faintly sparkle in the shadows as she did endless pirouettes on a perfect pointe, never once bumping her knee against the railing, like I always did when I tried to spin in that spot in the hall. She would twirl with one knee raised, and move her wiry arms in swirling spirals around her body, and occasionally dip forward into a pitched arabesque. Her skinny legs always extended out to forever, and her tours were always flawless. She was always there when I opened my eyes in the middle of the night, and always danced in the same spot in the hall outside my bedroom, and she was always beautiful to me. I never once feared such a strange sight, nor did I ever question it. I accepted her presence, and reveled in her gracefulness.

When I started high school I began sleeping with my door closed. I never saw her again, but I always wondered if she was still dancing outside my door while I slept, and if the glowing lines of her body still sparkled as colorfully as they did when I was a child.  The memory of this dancing specter hovered in the back of my mind during countless ballet classes, first in Princeton, and later in NYC, as I pursued my goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer.  While studying in Princeton I met an instructor who reminded me so vividly of that sparkling dream ballerina.  She was long and thin, very light-boned, and when I first saw her demonstrate the classwork, I knew my vision from those many years ago was merely a premonition of things to come, and that my life was about to change.  She became the first instructor to really hone in on the problem spots in my technique, and to teach in a calm, placid way that allowed me to think and really focus, instead of the lifetime of loud verbal abuse I’d endured at the hands of other less “zen” instructors.  I grew artistically, and shrank physically to a size 0, smaller than I’d ever thought I could be, and evolved into what I’d dreamed about so often while growing up in a home filled with harsh words and harsher memories.

Now, at age 36, with many accomplishments behind me, I still catch myself thinking about that mass of tangled metallic lines hovering in arabesque in the hallway of my childhood home in the late night hours.  I never see it anymore.  Maybe because I became it.

–Persephone is a professional dancer and instructor, and photographer based out of NYC.  Here’s her site: Persephone Productions

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