Friday, February 29, 2008

Taylor's Tales

In my ballet teacher's e-newsletter that I help put together and send out twice per month, I have a new column that I'm writing. She asked me to contribute reviews or articles or anything relating to dance basically, so I'm excited to get a few words in since this reaches over 1,000 people.

Below is my first excerpt I'm including in the newsletter that goes out tomorrow for March 1. I'll link to the whole newsletter when it's finished later, but for now, here's what I have to say.

Hi all!
Kat has graciously asked me to add my two cents to her newsletter in my new column “Taylor’s Tales.” Look for different dance articles, performance reviews, and funny anecdotes from my journeys in the ballet world. This week’s piece is an excerpt from a blog entry I wrote over the summer when we had our weekend classes in the big 5th Floor double-wide studio. See the full article here.

…After swiping my card and waiting too long for the elevator, staring at crowds of baby ballerinas and teenage hip-hoppers, I finally get upstairs to the studio. at first glimpse, I know all is well. Empty, with the tinted sunlight shed from the see-through blinds, it is rather chilly and quiet. I immediately drop my bag in its usual area near the front.

Though there is nobody in sight, I rush to drag the portable barre from the corner to my spot in the center as if the whole class were clamoring to beat me to my place. It’s funny how, as dancers, we become attached to our habitual place at the barre - the place of our internal work, the angle from which we always see ourselves in the mirror, the fixation that remains constant each morning, as welcoming (or unwelcoming) as that first cup of coffee. It is our personal space and our home base that we become so possessive of.

I open my bag, and overflowing with pointe shoes, Tiger Balm, and warm ups, it spills across the floor beneath the cool silver barre. It’s the same routine every week: Change into sweatpants. Filter through the pointe shoes and decide which to wear. Replace toe pads in appropriate shoes. Lather the Achilles tendon in anti-inflammatories. Pop an Advil if it’s been a bad week. Set out the skirt and soft shoes for the start of class. Then return everything else to the side.

After all is settled I take a deep breath, encouraging myself to begin my necessary stretching, strengthening, and joint-cracking ritual. The percussion of my vertebrae clicking into place is the only sound besides the whizzing air conditioner above. I hardy notice either.

I breathe in the emptiness of the room and close my eyes, savoring the quiet. To be alone in that great space is liberating. In the confines of Manhattan’s steel valleys it seems impossible to find just a single square foot of personal space. But here in the studio, I am truly free. I can see the buildings of midtown almost at arms length. The clouds are close enough to tickle with my breath.

If I were warmed up and fully awake I would love to break out into some long lost choreography that simmers inside me, never with an opportunity to surface. But by the time my pre-class routine gets me to my feet to stretch my calves, I hear the beeping of the elevator in the hallway. Other dancers come in and glance around before entering, as if afraid to disturb my silence. I smile at them…and we dance together.

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