“Death by Ballet”

Theresa Solenski, english writing and biology senior

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In Ballet, even dying is done gracefully. We warm up for it. We practice: leg up on the barre stretching out the muscles, straddle splits against the mirror.

We wear black. This is, after all, our death sentence.

At the barre we stand perfectly straight and in perfect coordination we battement tendu our way to death.

“Sharper!” Madam shouts at us while we drown in sweat. There is perfection she tells us, in dying.

Near the end, during our développé she grabs our pointed legs one at a time and lifts them up, up, up, up, almost vertically.

This is when the dying really begins. The leg, she says, still holding on, must be isolated from the hip. She pushes hips down and pulls legs up. Legs dislocate.

She lets go and legs falter.

“Hold it!” She shouts, slapping her hands into a sharp clap. Supporting legs tremble, sweaty hands have the barre in a death grip.

We wonder if we should bother to breathe. Dying is a long process. It starts during the développé and continues through the releve lents.

Eyebrows inevitably furrow, teeth bite lips, but the steady notes of the piano blare and blare unaware and Madam smiles at our pain.

“Pleasant faces!” She reminds us, and just before we collapse into heaps, the curtain falls.

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