Excerpt from the nonfiction piece “My Shadow”
Tomber, pas de bourree, glissade, saut de chat.
I watch my slippered feet intently in the mirror, my shadow following a beat behind as my brain struggles to stay a beat ahead to ensure the precise execution of the steps. Watch out, my shadow hisses at me, and I cut my movements short just in time to narrowly miss our dance master, his look now as penetrating as his crisp, Russian accent. Concentrating so hard on my feet, I have forgotten to take note of my surroundings, and with my cheeks still burning, I silently thank my sister, my little shadow, for saving me.
Oftentimes, we joke that she is a “little adult,” and watching this veritable twig three years my junior memorizing the combination apart from the distraction of the other girls, I realize how accurate a joke can be. Wrinkled brow, pursed lips, I can almost hear the cogs in that amazing brain whirring away as she tries to achieve perfection. Born with such natural talent, I feel a pang of regret for her. The worry and frustration so vividly apparent on her face is not necessary; in the world of ballet, perfection is not possible. She stands there now with her hands on her hips like Peter Pan, and I almost gasp out loud.
That stance is my own bad habit!