Face Down

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By Lanier Ivester

I was a Christian, and I was a dancer. A ballerina, as I liked to avow with all the solemnity of seventeen. Studying classical ballet three and four days out of the week, showing up early to stretch before class, wrestling against all the opposing forces of aching muscles and tight tendons to add a fraction of a degree to my arabesque or half an inch of height to my grande jete’. I loved it, and I worked hard, both of which I owe almost exclusively to the much greater fact of a superlatively excellent teacher. She drew me out of the back corner of regional ballet school indifference and she scraped grimly away at an acquired layer of sloppiness and mimicking conformity, down to the very bones of my so-called technique. We spent untold class time spread out on the floor with anatomy books and I was made to perform all manner of ridiculous maneuvers in order to find and feel the muscles we were talking about. I danced for months without any shoes at all, and marched across the floor, en pointe, holding chairs over my head. She would call for sixty-four changement at a time and then call for them again, and drill me on the names of the famed “Eight Positions” as I assumed them in rapid succession.

In short, she taught me how to dance.  She set something free within me . . .

Read the rest of this article at the Rabbit Room blog.

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