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Here's to a moment of nostalgia. I'm skimming through pages of ballet terminology and admiring the pictures associated with the movements. I find myself drawn to the faces of each ballerina. Some seem to be in no pain, as though the movement they are captured creating is second nature. Others don't hide the pain quite so well, and my heart reaches out to them. I long to tell them that it's okay not to be prefect, and that all that matters is the beauty of the art they create and the story they portray. But they know better. I know better.

My brain is suddenly racked with invading memories I've kept stashed away and hidden for so long. As painful as they are, I succumb to the invasion. I've returned to that day in the hospital. I still vividly remember my conversation with a ballerina from the San Francisco Ballet. She spoke of her once-successful ballet career, and as I listened with much intensity I could not grasp why she didn't miss it. She didn't miss dance. She stated without hesitation that she had no desire to return to the studio or to the highly acclaimed ballet company. I simply could not wrap my mind around it. Dance had engulfed and swallowed my existence. I had dreamt many times of being in a professional ballet group as prestigious as hers and could not imagine why a person would ever want to leave that sort of incredible opportunity.

I was so young. I was so naive, so blissfully unaware of the answers that would soon find me.

We were, after all, hospitalized for the same general problem. We had an inability to allow ourselves to eat, and we would rid ourselves unnaturally of any food that was consumed, however small the amount. Anorexia and other types of eating disorders are common among dancers. There are endless standards and limitations to meet regarding weight, figure, the lines the movements are supposed to create which, of course, cannot be displayed with the same effect if the ballerina is even "a few pounds overweight". It was almost fate; a simple nudge was all it took to steer me, and countless others, towards a path of self-destruction for the sake of attaining and mastering our art.

We came from different states, different lives, this ballerina and I; but we shared the same world of unreasonable expectations to be met. In class, you dance in front of a mirror that stretches floor to ceiling and wall to wall. There is no escaping it. You measure yourself from all angles, double and triple checking every line, every curve, every bulge that should not exist. Every individual must measure up to the standard. Our instructors determined our diets. They ridiculed our every move. If a triple pirouette wasn't landed perfectly, it was to be repeated until it came as naturally as an exhaled breath. If a grand jeté didn't reach the expected heights, it was done a thousand times more while instructors endlessly echoed phrases such as, "one must float across the stage with effortless ease," "one must be light on the toes; lose contact with the floor," "one must leap through the air at heights unattainable and hang as though suspended from a string; poised in mid-air, should someone desire to take a snapshot at that very moment." No hair must be astray. No finger or limb out of place. One must not even show ripples in the muscles required for executing such strenuous movements repetitively. One must be a machine of the art of ballet; a mechanical masterpiece.

This ballerina and I shared many commonalities. We shared the same passion. We both lived to create the art of movement. But she was older and wiser than I; she knew the ugly side of the art form far more than I was aware, even if I did see it to a small degree. She knew the truths that I was yet to discover.

~~~

The ballerina is seen, but not heard. The beauty and grace of her movement is witnessed and appreciated, but the pain and suffering required to create it is only felt by her. She glides and twirls across the stage in a cloud of dreams and whispered promises. Later that night she'll be tending to her bleeding, battered feet and bruised body, which now feels 10 years older than 22. All the while she'll be wondering if her performance was good enough. She'll replay every step in her head, over and over. Did she live up to her choreographer's expectations? Did she tell the story like she was supposed to? Or did her own story of pain and anguish seep through the movements so deeply that it could be felt by every member of the audience as they held their breaths, hoping to high heaven that she wouldn't fall from her position of suspended grace above the hard, unforgiving floor?

She may never know the answers. The following day, friends and instructors will rave and applaud her performance, but she sees only empty faces and unmet demands. She is incomplete; drained from the inside out.  Perfection is something that can never be achieved. She knows this. Still she beats herself up even more than the rock-hard box that contained her fragile feet the previous evening.  If only I'd landed that jump more solidly, I wouldn't have stumbled into my fouettés, she thinks to herself. Her movement will never be good enough; not for her.

~~~

I soak in these memories of a life that now seems to belong to someone else. I am sitting alone in my cold, empty room. I am healthy now; I have a woman's figure that took getting used to. I'd always been rail-thin. People didn't recognize me anymore, and I slowly came to understand that as a good thing. I am no longer physically sick with an unreachable ideal of perfection. But no matter what, I will always be in love with the movement. A smile creeps upon my lips as a slideshow of images play through my head of ballerinas I admired, performances of Swan Lake I yearned to learn, and my own performances as a young girl. I felt so alive on stage; vulnerable and exposed…and free. My father always said that I was "poetry in motion" on stage. I think that is, to this day, the greatest compliment I've ever received.

I am reminded of the last time I truly felt the movement in an unguarded way. I was dancing in my living room barefoot. There was no music, save the rhythm of my soul. No taunting mirrors. No peering, critical eyes. It was my spirit and the movement, nothing else.. I wasn't dancing ballet, not in any traditional form. I was letting movement overtake my body and escape freely without regard to the correct position, or the perfect line or angle. I felt it surge through me with such intensity I thought it would take away my breath, my life. I would have let it. Every ounce of energy drained from my body in the most gratifying way, and just when I had none left I kept moving, kept flowing, kept breathing. I just let the current of expression come pouring out through every seam that has held me together all these years.  I've never felt so complete, so absolutely whole in all my years of existence.

Then it hit me. This was all I ever wanted; my own creative current of expression seeping through my veins and a body to exert the movement that would create the story. My story. These were my words, crying to be heard. But I didn't need the approval of instructors holding impossible standards or an audience expecting perfection.

I just needed to dance.
:icondonotuseplz::iconmyartplz:

This is an extremely emotional and difficult thing to share. I don't think I'll ever cry enough tears over this art form I am no longer able to do in the way I envisioned. But I needed to see these words on paper to realize them to be true.

Edit: I want to send a huge thanks to :icondailylitdeviations: for choosing my piece for a DLD on December 10th, and especially to :iconitsaki: for submitting it and for being such a wonderful friend. I am truly honored by the feature!
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:icondani-the-naiad:
I was taken away with this piece - it absolutely beautiful! A window into your soul and a very informative piece at the same time. You managed to create something so passionate and interesting and moving to read, but also something to inform and educate people about society and culture. It is absolutely breathtaking.

I applaud you for sharing such deeply personal words - it truly is moving and this piece should go further than simply dA.

I didn't notice any problems technically at all, but I was so wrapped up in what I was reading I didn't pay enough attention to grammar, etc. But usually those things jump out and bite me so there really must not be any big problems in the piece at all - I only saw very good writing.

In my mind, I cannot see any need for revision at all - and I would recommend finding more faucets for this piece to be publicized more. It speaks so much of the human spirit. It's simply beautiful. What more can I say?
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011   Writer
This story is now Featured at the club below. You can see it on the home page soon, or later in Favorites at the upper right, where it will say "Some Best Members Daily Submissions...See More here." "...here" is a link, once you hit the club icon below.

:icongetwatchers: ... :thumbsup:
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional Photographer
Wow, I am honored!! Thank you so much for featuring a piece that is
so dear to my heart.. really, it means the world to me. :tighthug:
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2011   Writer
:iconyourewelcomemorseplz:
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:icontariencole:
TarienCole Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for sharing. It's amazing the things you've described in your works and yet emerged from. That takes real courage and beauty as a person.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2010  Professional Photographer
Wow, I'm humbled by your kind words, thank you so much for taking the time
to read a piece so close to my heart. Also thank you for adding me to your
watch, I appreciate that as well! :love:
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:icontariencole:
TarienCole Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
You're most welcome. :)
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:iconteardownthefence:
teardownthefence Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2010
This is beautiful.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thanks so much! :love:
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:iconangelstained:
angelStained Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2010   Writer
and I used to do ballet too... but couldn't in the end and stopped.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2010  Professional Photographer
It's a beautiful artform, but also very destructive sometimes. :nod:
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:iconangelstained:
angelStained Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2010   Writer
wow my wow. I'm grateful to you for sharing this. really. it's great.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!! :hug:
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:iconboredomkillz:
boredomkillz Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2010
You have spun such a beautiful web of words that I fear if I try to praise it, I'll only be swatting it away.
I just... I'll try to speak later, haha.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you so much for reading it, and for your kind words..
means the world to me. :tighthug:
Reply
:iconboredomkillz:
boredomkillz Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2010
You're very welcome. :hug:
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:iconsirenightengale:
SIRENightengale Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2010
This is why I quit ballet!!!!! Amazing piece. I don't know what to say. I love it.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010  Professional Photographer
I'm glad you love it, I'm sorry that you experienced some similar situations as I did
but as long as your love for dance still flourishes then nothing has been lost. :nod:
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:iconsirenightengale:
SIRENightengale Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010
Well, my experience didn't go quite as far; I took one semester of classes (I had danced as a child but quit early), learning positions and patterns, etc. Then it hit me: I just wanted to dance! The class I was taking wouldn't even let me perform until two years later. Now I just turn the music on in my living room and dance in my own way. :D
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2010  Professional Photographer
YES!!! That's exactly the way it should be. I'm so glad to hear that,
truly, makes me so happy. :dance: :hug:
Reply
:iconsirenightengale:
SIRENightengale Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2010
Yep! This is my kind of dance. :boogie:
Reply
:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2010  Professional Photographer
Heck yes, I love it! :dance:
Reply
:iconpink-rose14:
PINK-ROSE14 Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010  Professional Photographer
I'm disabled from the stomach down, and whenever I see ballarinas dance I always start crying. I don't know why I'm telling you that though. Maybe it's so I can somehow relate to the pain you just beautifully portrayed through your words. You are a wonderful writer, you will go very far if you choose writing as a career. I hope you do!! :D
Reply
:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2010  Professional Photographer
First of all, thank you so much for reading this, and I cannot imagine the strength you must possess.. you are such a beautiful spirit I can't even describe.. I wish life could be different for you. Trust me though, as far as crying whenever you watch ballerinas, I am SO with you on that.. it just rips out my heart to watch them glide across the stage, wishing to be among them.. it's a sad and beautiful feeling at the same time, ya know? I'm so honored you like my writing, that means the world to me, more than you could possibly know.. I've always wanted to pursue it as a career but I just never knew where to start to get published.. but it's a dream I always carry.. also, I let a lot of people (including my parents) talk my out of my dreams, because they weren't "stable career choices". Let me just say don't ever let anyone do that to you, it forced me to doubt my talents.. I could have done so much more, maybe I still can but sometimes I feel like it's too late.

Phew! Sorry for the rant. I just wanted to say thank you for reading and appreciating my words. :tighthug:
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:iconpink-rose14:
PINK-ROSE14 Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2010  Professional Photographer
:D You're welcome, it was a great pleasure to read your writing. I'm strong enough to get through the day without breaking down, crumbling behind my mask. Yup I wear a mask, but not a literal one. Emotional. Each person has a spirit. Thank you, that makes my heart smile!! ^_^ You have a wonderful spirit as well. :) You can wish all you want, I can dream all I want. I'm disabled, but I can walk. I can talk normally. I can sing like a movie star!! lol I have super fast reflexes!! I've scene people in wheelchairs. I'm not necessarily paralyzed from the stomach down...I just walk very differently. There's a scientific name for it, but I'm not going to try to spell it because I'll probably get it wrong. lol I have a friend who has C.P. Know what that is? (Lack of Oxygen at berth) But the good thing is that I'm not going to be like this forever. I plan on becoming a professional photographer, singer and artist. I've been doing yoga and it's been getting better. Would you like me to describe my walking issue? I don't mind. I'm glad, at least you know what I'm going through with that one. :D Yes sad a beautiful. I'm sorry that it dose that to you, are you going to pursue dancing? I cry because I want to have their balance and confidence. I envy them for that. Yes, I understand that. :) I can probably guess how much it means to you. I want to be a published poet, but I need to work on writing stuff that makes sense to my readers. I'm trying. You could check out my gallery if you want, I'll go see yours!! :D ;D

Where to start!! I would start at [link] I'm not sure if you're a poet. Are you? I would start with contests and also write everyday to keep improving your writing!! :D

They wern't stable career choices!! Well that's a bunch of s:llama::llama:t!!!! Don't let anyone talk you out of your dreams!! NO MATER HOW CRAZY OR FAR AWAY THEY ARE!!! ^_^ IF YOU SET A GOAL AND GO FOR IT AND REALLY DO EVERYTHING YOU'LL GET TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE!! I OF ALL PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT!! my goal is to be able to walk normally like you before I enter collage.

Don't doubt your talents, either!!! There is always room to learn something new. Maybe you'll get discuriged by someone's spectacular painting or drawling, and you'll wish that you could draw or paint like that. But don't let it get to you. You'll just end up being too critical of your art. Your worst critic is yourself!! You could have, and yes you can!!!! It's not.

You're very welcome, amazing writer. :huggle: ^_^
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2010  Professional Photographer
You do sound like a very strong person, I don't doubt that for a second. And I do think, to some extent, everyone wears a mask of some kind.. or at least builds up a wall to protect themselves, and honestly, it's necessary to some extent. Because the few people that are willing to break it down (or just climb over it, usually easier lol) make everything else worth it. But there are a lot of cruel people out there and we have to protect ourselves from them, so that's why a mask can be good, as long as you're confident in who you are! That's so important. Believing in yourself. I have to work at that every day. :)

If you can sing like a movie star then I sure am jealous! I think you should do whatever you set your mind to. I know that's one thing I will do differently from my parents when it comes to raising my child (I'm pregnant, due on New Year's day!). I will NEVER talk my child out of their dreams, or make them feel like their dreams, and what they aspire to be, are not good enough. My dreams were never good enough for my parents, or they weren't "realistic". And you're right, that is absolute crap. Because anything you can dream, you can make real. You just have to never give up and put forth the effort to making it happen, like you said.

You're right too that there is always something new to learn. And that's what is wonderful about art.. always room for improvement, something you can do better.

Never give up on your dreams either. And thank you for encouraging me not to give up on mine. Reading what you had to say really brought me to tears, because perhaps I just haven't been encouraged to pursue my dreams enough. Make sure you take your own advice too, but it sounds like you already are. Best of wishes to you, God bless you.
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:iconpink-rose14:
PINK-ROSE14 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you!! ^_^ I believe in that too!! :) Yes, it's really necessary. Yes they do!!! I'm still waiting for mine. Correct!!! I sometimes falter at believing in myself. But I try my best to keep it up.

Sorry I'm bragging, I onnly brag when it's true. ^_^ Because otherwise it would be lying. I've been singing sense I've been five. So it's not like I just woke up this morning and found out I could sing like Amy Lee. (I can) look her up. lol It took years. I'm taking vocal lessons now and I have dreams to go to Juilliard or some well know music school.

Believe me, I am. I have a whole list of collages I want to go to. All of them ART schools. In western Astrology I'm a Pisces Wood Dog. In Vedic Astrology I'm a double Aries. (double fire sign) Pisces are very creative. Well that's a good thing to do with what your parents did to you. Take their mistake and know it to never make it with your own child. I'm very glad to hear that, they had no right to inflate your dreams. If you really put your head to the grindstone you'll get to where you want to be. That's what I'm doing with my singing. I'm sorry about that and I hope you can forget what they said and make your dreams a reality. My parents keep talking to me about becoming something boring like a lawyer, doctor, banker, business person...exetera. But I don't want to do that!! I want to do what I love. But for now I'll just have to make do with what I have and make the best of it. Until I graduate collage.

Correct!!! :D :llama: That's one of the reasons why I love art. ^_^ I will never!!!!!!!!! I'll swear on that!! : ) You're very welcome, it was well deserved. Happy tears I hope. ;) ^_^ :heart: Your parents have a image of you when you're all grown up set in their minds. One where you working a high paying job. And your dreams don't take place in that dream of theirs. But forget all that crap. You will pursue your dreams. Well there's your encouragement. I am!!!! and I'll never stop following my own heart. : ) May your child live a long, happy, wonderful life where her dreams have room to grown into realities. :heart:
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you so much sweetheart, you have a wonderful soul and it shines through with everything you say. :tighthug:
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:iconpink-rose14:
PINK-ROSE14 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2010  Professional Photographer
: ) :iconsuperglompplz!! You're welcome!! ^_^ I only just met you, and you're so nice already!!! But that's a great thing!! ^^
Thank you so much. Your soul is pure and beautiful!!!!
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2010  Professional Photographer
So is yours my dear! Have a very blessed weekend.. :tighthug:
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(1 Reply)
:iconxanadu125:
xanadu125 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010
I've been dancing for as long as I can remember. This spoke to me like you wouldn't believe. I am still a young dancer, still learning, but it is wonderful to meet another dance enthusiast. What spoke to me most was when you described the rigidity of dance, and how strict and painful it is.
I have written things like this as well.thank you for posting yours. :aww:
Reply
:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010  Professional Photographer
Wow, I'm so glad you liked it.. thank you for taking the time to read and relate to the passion.. because that is what dancing is, the true passion and spirit of the soul expressed through movement and art.. although some memories of my years as a dancer are painful, I needed to realize (and help other dancers caught in a similar struggle realize) that it's about so much more than just the movement, of pursuing perfection through the steps.. it's about expression and telling your soul's story. All the other elements are subtleties. :hug:

Again thank you for reading. Means the world to me.. :thanks:
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:iconxanadu125:
xanadu125 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010
:aww: you are a very welcome. and it means even more now that I just finished my first night back to dance. It is really beautiful. :love:
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you again, tremendously. :hug:
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:iconsilverfernn:
silverfernn Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
you took me with you on your journey, here. and I am literally out of breath at the end.
your liberation dance at home... I can see you!!
thank you for sharing your personal depths - I enjoyed your piece heaps!
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010  Professional Photographer
Wow, I'm so honored that you took the time to read this, and so glad you enjoyed it..

Truly means the world to me.. :tighthug:
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:icontoxikomani:
Toxikomani Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2010
beautiful!
and very striking. you really catch what the dance means.
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2010  Professional Photographer
:aww: thank you so much, I really appreciate that.. thanks for reading!!
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:icondani-the-naiad:
Dani-the-Naiad Featured By Owner May 11, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
[link] Featured for thanks! :hug:
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner May 12, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you so much!!!
Reply
:icononeofthose-rachels:
oneofthose-rachels Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
This wonderful piece has been featured here: [link]
I know I've commented before but I absolutely adore it, lovely. :heart:
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner May 2, 2010  Professional Photographer
Again, thank you so much for the feature, it really touched and warmed my heart (it is so bitter cold! I need all the warmth I can get!). Seriously, this made my night! :love:
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:icononeofthose-rachels:
oneofthose-rachels Featured By Owner May 4, 2010
:hug:!
You definitely deserved it :heart:
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner May 4, 2010  Professional Photographer
Thank you!!! :love:
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:iconalban-expressed:
alban-expressed Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2010
This is beautiful and so true. We only need to express ourselves freely.

As we are the only ones beating ourselves up, we are also the only ones who can and have to stop that waste of energy and life. :-)
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2010  Professional Photographer
I couldn't agree with you more.
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:iconalban-expressed:
alban-expressed Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010
:-)
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:iconchemicalwedding:
ChemicalWedding Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is very powerful. I can feel how you must have been feeling as though you were sitting in front of me, telling me this story to my face ^_^ Well written.

*Note: you said "prefect" instead of "perfect" in the first paragraph, line 5*
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010  Professional Photographer
Oh! Good eye! I shall go fix it now. :sprint:

As for the kind words, they are most appreciated. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and give your wonderful insight.. :love:
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:iconchemicalwedding:
ChemicalWedding Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, keep writing! It's wonderful to see people share such intimate things in such a powerful way :D
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:iconskyeconnelly:
skyeconnelly Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010  Professional Photographer
I appreciate your words of kindness. I really do.
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