A bath drawn to
to draw your words.
To soak your bones and remind your greyhound mind
Put the pen and paper away. I have nothing to say: he says.
Excellent. Í don’t wish to take dictation, then.
Ballet slippers donned and satin ribbons laced up my calves.
A custom pair. A parting gift from the corps
following a fall that took my left ankle’s ability to regularly dance en pointe.
There is no visible trace of the bone’s weakness, but I sometimes feel it,
An act now saved for special occasions, and certainly not slick floors of bathing rooms.
But, I can still stand on my toes all day,
A white, gauzey skirt, flowing but slitted, and worn, only at home.
Black, satin camisole, containing little but fully covering.
A pinched waist.
There are valid reasons for dressing the part.
He says: Do your barre work in here. Can you extend each leg to the towel rack?
Yes, my extension is good but my turn-out requires me to warm up. Í’ll start with the countertop.
Familiar feeling of tendons pulling. Straining until a’loose.
Initially struggling to stay tight, they go loose like fretted guitar strings after many plucks.
Í arch my back and bend my spine backwards. It releases its tension more easily.
My arms move slowly like a lava flow.
Í warm my muscles.
Í imagine the heat your body feels, in the still hot bath water.
Í envision the expansion of your blood vessels and the increased flow of your bloodstream,
The pulsing that your body sensates through the process of acclimating.
Í feel it.
It limbers me.
Í feel your eyes.
Í pretend not to but í delight in knowing that you know that í know that í am
The awareness of this suddenly envelopes my attention and í slip from my posture,
but í do not fall.
Tell me, again, your mythos of Svetlana Zakharova and Robert Bolle.
Í love it when you have me repeat myself.
Well, she is from the Balanchine school, where every movement is lavish and ornate, pronounced and, often, painfully slow. Most male dancers get cast as choreographical fillers. They dance in support of a prima or a principal or a soloist, keeping her held in spotlights in impossible postures. This is changing, though. Bolle was the best at this. But, when he dances with Svetlana, she needed no outside support. She would hold her own positions while he knelt and/or took the spotlight. Her tenacity, strength, gave him a chance to both shine and rest. A chance to breathe. You know í found some of my prostrations from her La Bayadère variation.
He says: I know. The way you wrap your arm about your crown to cup your opposite cheek
My eyes have gone wide.
Í am loose now.
You look ready: he says.
Í know the perfect album: í say, flitting away.
From the other room, í drop the diamond tip to spinning vinyl.
Watch this: í say.
As the music flows.
My eyes remain open but í am not seeing.
Í feel as if becoming music in motion.
Í snake, í extend. Pronounce the flare of hips.
Í make strange signs with my fingers.
Í shift in this solo performance for the audience of the one.
His neck bends back and rests on the tub’s edge, eyes narrowing.
He begins speaking words as they come
to his mind.
There is no need to write these.
He says: I like how you begin with the restraint of ballet proper before losing yourself into more, less classical, feral movements.
Í whisper: ballet is a foundation of five simple positions from which infinite variations may be culled; but, dance is second to second and cannot be predicted, only experienced. It is undomesticated, improvised, choreography at heart.