The mirror reflects someone out of the past... My ballet slippers are so tight! But that's the way they have to be, I'm told. My feet hurt so bad sometimes that it's hard to walk. It hurts when I do those fast spins on my toes across the stage. Everyone tells me how lovely I am, how beautiful I look in my tutu—just like a princess, so sweet! Mother says I have a “presence” on stage, whatever that means. It must be good because she smiles when she tells me that. I'm only a child, but my dreams are big, much bigger than dancing. I want to fly! I want to catch the wind and float with the clouds.
It wasn't long before the image of a princess went out the window along with the ballet slippers. No more pain! Classical ballet had become a bondage, one I would not wish on any child. Still, gnawing deep inside me was the desire for artistic expression in some flowing form. It did not become clear to me until my seventeenth year when I discovered modern dance, dance that honored bare feet—and bared souls. It offered the freedom to move from within. It offered true creativity, free from anyone else's ideas and instructions.
I refocus my gaze, my attention back on the reflection in the mirror. I banish the child and strain to see the seventeen-year-old who had the freedom to be an artist. The eyes grow more intense; the mouth, more determined.
Seventeen. It was then that comments had changed and words like hypnotic and powerful were used to describe me. I had moved beyond lovely, sweet.
So what describes me now? I turn away from the mirror, not wanting to see. Just a few years after seventeen, the pain became my life. My youthful, promising fantasies were soon extinguished by dire dictums of medicine. That special part of me got packed away in a darkened closet along with the flowing gowns of dance—a place no light could reach.
When there's been so much trauma in my life, I have to ask? Is this pain psychological? I've learned to compensate for this dissection, but as a result my body is constricted and contorted. What this body has become...
The realization transcends my flesh and pierces my spirit.