For ten years i spent my tuesdays and thursdays in the back room of an old closed down movie theatre doing everything but dance. It was a function room that fit a hundred people which felt enormous as a child. Gold wall chandeliers hung on every wall below the arched ceiling where seven armed gold chandeliers hung in a row at the length of the room. Floor to ceiling was papered with embossed baroque gold wallpaper and the large windows let the sunlight dance on the wooden floor. It was majestic. Yet entering the room a chill embraced you and penetrated your core. Like it was haunted by dead dreams.
We trickled in through double doors and found our places by the “barre”. The barre was a row of vintage chairs against the wall by the windows. We would turn every other chair around to space us out and use their backs as barres and the chairs in between to store our bags.
Unpack our pointe shoes.
Bang the shoes against the wall.
Throw the shoes on the floor and stomp on them.
Get to carding the wool to make it softer.
Tape your toes.
Tie the ribbons.
Wet the knots.
Lick your fingers and slide your baby hairs to the side, and we were ready for the class, ready to take our place, ready to stretch, point and pull.
There were no mirrors, so our hunt for perfection in our imperfect world became trying to mirror each others movements with the minor adjustments we found necessary. One in back of the other our arms aligned, our legs straight and our toes pointed.
In the corner was a grand piano played by our teachers daughter. The music played, we kicked, we plied, we turned and we bowed. We felt our foreheads on our knees, our toes on the back of our heads and our hands knew its way to every single space on our bodies. There was not a single itch on my body that I could not scratch. Except for one… I never danced.
We jumped across the floor, we flew, we soared. We went up and down, we spun around and around. We knew every movement we needed to, that we never got to use, nobody ever took the chance, and nobody got to dance.
Bend, fly, turn, soar
I don’t do that anymore
Run across the floor
Open arms, open heart, open door
Too shy, too weak, too scared
Never quite prepared
It’s the same old tune
I think I quit too soon
Try and try, again and again
now and then
a forgotten romance
In the room I never danced