Small Graces

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered some custom-made tutus for my dance school. They were delivered earlier this week and today, finally, I got them out of my car. I pile them high on a table in the costume room. Ten little tutus of frothy white net, with pink ribbons and tiny flower gardens inside each skirt. Light from the windows makes the petals glow: violet, orange, yellow, and many shades of pink. Tomorrow I bring my camera, I promise myself.

I go then into the large studio, Top Hat in hand. Yesterday we rehearsed for the “Midnight Stroll” section of our New York Nutcracker. Forget Swan Lake, I told the dancers. Think Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

And in my aster pink studio, I watch the black and white of Fred and an endless chorus line of men in white tie and tails. I listen as his cane raps out sharp explosions. I watch Ginger in her impossible ostrich feather gown. Her skirt too swirls around her ankles, and under it, a nearly invisible little kick of impeccable timing.

Her hands pose in the air, one shoulder lifted and forward. A type of surrender, I think to myself later. I watch, my finger on the rewind button. I get up and follow a short section.

And then I put on my music, lift my hands into that position, and let myself go. And where before there had been a stodgy stickiness, an inability is make a dance, now a gentle flow, a swaying of foot to foot. Hair marceled and the discrete glint of a well-placed broach. Shoulders waiting to receive an encircling arm. And those hands.

I give in.

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