The other night I had a ballet dream. Not a dancing onstage kind, or one of those scary ones where you hear your cue but you’re trapped in your dressing room, two floors down, panicking that you’re blowing it. No, in this dream I was an audience member, not a dancer. I’d been allowed access backstage. Two professional ballet dancers had just invited me to join them post-performance. The good fortune of it produced a shivery thrill, the kind you feel as a teen, sighting a movie star or your biggest crush.
In that way dreams have of transporting you instantly, next we were in one of the dancer’s apartment, and I’d put together a sumptuous dinner for them. There were, perhaps four or five of us there. Through the room, from time to time, came other dancers, their curious glances directed my way, an unspoken who is this? but I was accepted because I’d been invited by One of Them. How good it felt to be accepted here, by these exotic creatures, professional ballet dancers. And yet after the meal, I was still hungry, not for food but for discourse, yearning to ask more questions, get deeper inside their skin, their experience. It reminds me of when I was younger, still performing and I’d ask my mom eagerly, “what did you think of it?” She’d say, “honey, it was very nice,” and oh, how dissatisfying that was. I longed for so much more detail. How did it feel, inside her, watching me? How did she really see my dancing? Oh, the narcissist’s unquenchable thirst for more description of how they are perceived, how they are admired.
And yet, in this case, it was the opposite of narcissism. Call it the magnet of celebrity, or perhaps the writer in me, relentless in my hunger to delve deeper into the psyche of someone so different from me. Whatever it was, I wanted more. I was desperate to get ever closer to this divine creature, the professional ballet dancer, she who had found and touched The Holy Grail of ballet.
But before I could strike up further conversation, Beautiful Ballerina woman (suddenly there was just the one, but the queen of them) rose, all grace and loveliness, and announced that the food had been wonderful, delicious, thank you, but she was going to go relax now. I smiled back, equally gracious, joking “sounds like my cue to leave,” and was crestfallen when she nodded.
But of course. I was just another fan. This meet-up may have been the pinnacle of my evening, my year, but the feelings were not mutual. Far from it.
She wafted off to her room, leaving me and the other admirer to see ourselves out. Illogically, I decided to first clean up her kitchen. (And for the record? I hate to clean the kitchen. Hate it.) But as I cleaned, I held no grudge. I remained loyal, because I so revere the art, the craft of ballet, and want to do my bit to support it.
How interesting to ponder the dream now, in the light of day and clear logic. Is it ballet itself that I am striving to serve? Am I a lesser creature, merely an adoring groupie? Can’t say I like the thought. I liked being the performer too much to take the eternal back seat now.
And yet, when I consider it closer, I find that “adoring groupie” doesn’t describe it. It’s not a passive position, at all. Yes, I am serving ballet and its professional dancers. The prima ballerinas I write blogs about. The art itself. My art as a writer. My self-professed obligation to the public to take the dance world and write about it in an accessible, lively manner, getting people to read about dance. It’s not a place of subservience at all. I think the world needs this. It needs me in this capacity far more than it ever needed me as a ballet dancer.
But back to the dream. In the last bit, I was dishing the leftover into a container to put in the refrigerator. And I thought, wait, why don’t I take this yummy leftover home for me? I’d bought the ingredients, done all the work, served and cleaned up. A no-brainer. Except that I knew Beautiful Ballerina would enjoy it, and the poor thing wasn’t that much of a cook, that was clear. She needed me. She might never see it that way. But without my support, the nourishing things I’ve given—and you multiply my efforts by a thousand, all those other supporters of the dance world—she would languish. Waste away. Expire.
Subservience, hell no. The ballet world, the performing arts in general, need us. They need audience members to buy for tickets. Patrons who offer donations and grants. They need bloggers and dance reviewers to spread the word.
And so, in my dream, I left the food behind. Left it for her. I’ve learned, after all, how and where to find plenty more.
© 2013 Terez Rose
Want to read more of my writing? OFF BALANCE, Book 1 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles is now out in stores! http://www.amazon.com/Balance-Ballet-Theatre-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B00WB224IQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429554592&sr=1-1&keywords=off+balance+Terez