I’ve been standing in the shower for far longer than necessary, letting the hot water patter over my shoulders and steam up my sore body. Two thick strips of kinesio tape flank my pulled lateral quad. A pillow of gauze inflates with water between my scarred baby toe and my bruised fourth toenail. The biggest toe on my other foot hides its half-nail under a bandage cap. Ballerina feet indeed.
That morning, finally seeing my podiatrist after a week of phone tag, he jokes that I’m lucky he doesn’t have a jealous wife. I have 3 voicemails in my inbox that say, “Hi Kirsten, it’s me. I’ll try again later.” This morning the office is empty save for my mother, the secretary, the doctor, and me. He’s wearing full scrubs, gracious nature brings him in to cut away bits of my skin before heading to the hospital for a full day of surgeries. My mother- bless her brave soul- is enlisted as accomplice, er assistant, in the scraping of my toe gunk. She patiently holds back my pesky wiggly toe- the one that’s had a bit of bone removed by that very wonderful podiatrist himself several years before- and never even squirms at its squishy ilk.
Today begins a week of 12-hour days. Beginning in the studio at 9:30am and wrapping in the theater at 10pm when the union crew turns out the lights on us, we will work. We will warm up, we will rehearse, we will warm up again. We will space, we will learn, we will dance. We will correct, repeat, perform. Repeat. A week quite literally full of ballet. Equal parts intimidated and excited, a recipe for the best kind of butterflies.
For weeks, my legs longed for their sheer stripe-y goodness from all the way across the pond. Then one very lucky Tuesday they arrived in a pretty little package at my doorstep. Naturally, I immediately put them on and twirled around the house.
The modern, yet feminine shape features a deep front slit on either thigh, allowing for a complete range of motion. And boy, do they move beautifully. I’ve been wearing mine rolled to the hips, but they look just lovely up on your waist as well. The contrast between that polished base fabric with a casual jersey drawstring elevates this already wonderfully unusual design to a whole new level of unique charm. They are the special kind of shorts that will attract copycats but never truly be replicated or replaced. No dancewear will ever out-cool them, that is, of course, until the Danseuse team inevitably strikes again and I’m left longing once more. Sheergenius, ladies and gents.
On a rather rainy morning several Saturdays ago, I found myself scampering about the colossal architectural sculpture that is the Rhode Island State House. Situated in the heart of Providence, looking out over downcity with the north end to its right and the East Side over its left shoulder from atop college hill, the RI State House is perpetually hugged by PVD’s mini Burroughs. It rests in the center of the city’s many colleges and universities- RISD and JWU straight ahead, Brown to the left and PC and RIC at the back right- and conveniently calls the train station and the VETs Memorial Auditorium (my home away from home!) its next door neighbors.
With its majestic marble steps and powerful archways around every bend, the building itself seems to have erupted from the earth, a beautiful combustion of the artistic influence surrounding it. It’s the striking physical representation of a city dubbed “The Creative Capital”, and an equally lovely place to spend a morning making new artist friends (even though I was super late and forced you to take photos of pigeons for 30 minutes- still SO sorry!). Providence, I fall a teeny bit more in love with you every damn day.
“The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.” -William Shakespeare
Between bruised knees and sore ankles, the pink satin dream of a young girl in pigtails tends to slip away, masked by the shadows of a calloused reality. But sitting in the small pool of sunshine by the window in studio 2 yesterday, draped in the tulle fairytale my younger self once subconsciously designed, I couldn’t help but bask in the dreaminess of it all. Of course I promptly tweaked my hip upon standing, and felt compelled to reflect on the relationship between light and shadows; Polar opposites upon first inspection, in reality one could not exist without the other.
Interdependent and eternally connected, light and darkness tempt and rescind each other, distort and define each other. The very existence of one both creates and negates the other, making it impossible for them to separate or marry, and the incoherent dance endures, a perpetual representation of the incidental union of two contradicting entities. Ballet often manifests itself in this paradoxical friction, simultaneously embodying beauty and disfigurement, intense pain and a lack of fear. On stage we exhaust ourselves to present the audience with artificial ease; We submit to hours of physical malady in the production of an unmatched elegance. But if we listen to Shakespeare, we come to understand that most dreams take the form of a shadow while being pursued by those who truly aspire. That is, it is in this work and toil that dreams eventually come to fruition. One relies on the other, no matter how antithetical they may seem.
In these moments, where the dream and reality intersect, I wonder if a bit of borrowed spirit from a younger, poufy-tutu-clad me isn’t the missing link between my light and my shadows.
PS- Do you like my special new leotard? Stay tuned for a very exciting announcement, coming soon!
This weekend my favorite cousin and I finally reunited after a significant drought (3 months of separation- the struggle was real!) and she gave me some belated birthday presents, one of which left me completely speechless. A quick tear of the balloon-stamped wrapping paper revealed vibrant splashes of hand-embroidered flowers, blooming together into the ever familiar shape of two resting pointe shoes. And I do mean very familiar…these pointe shoes are my own! The portrait’s base is a photo I took of my feet on the final day of Peter Pan rehearsals back in January. Leave it to M to turn something from battered to beautiful. So much talent. They remind me of those gorgeous Jose Romussi ballerinas I fell in love with a few months ago. Now I have my very own embroidered photograph, personalized and stitched with love by one of my loves. Does it get any better?
And you know what they say, April flowers bring…embroidered flowers? I think that’s how it goes…
Yesterday whilst eating a banana and mentally preparing for my last rehearsal of the day, I looked down and realized my work clothes are pretty badass. Pointe shoes peeking out through my practice tutu, my anti-office-attire getup reminded me how lucky I am to make a living doing something I love.
This week has been a tough one for me in all senses of the word. But that old cliché really is true- what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m determined to emerge from the tornado that has been these past 4 days even more resilient than I was before…and I’ve got one more day to do it! Here we go.