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poetry

Little Dancers

When I was younger, I never saw the bags under their eyes

Or the laces sometimes frayed

I never saw the knots in their shoulders

Or the hair that sometimes strayed

From buns and ponytails kept neat and trim

At the base of their elegant necks

I never saw the wrinkles in their leotards

Or the secrets they tried to protect

Spins and leaps fascinated me

In a way I cannot write

Because to me, they were beautiful

Dancing from day to night

With a padebure and a grand jete

They glid right through the air

Sometimes dancing to the instructor’s voice

And sometimes without a care

When there weren’t pointe shoes

They were contemporary slips

When there weren’t jazz boots

There were taps with steel tips

And I can still remember my sense of awe

In seeing a dancer take their pick

I can still remember the pounding of the music

As they performed an elaborate trick

Yet I never saw the bruised feet

And the aching souls that came

To relieve the tension of the outside world

Because we all feel the same

They were artists and orchestrators

And music was their love

They danced across the wooden floors

As if they came from above

And now, I look at the children who sit

Right next to the studio’s door

And think how they never see mistakes

Or trip-ups on the Marley floor

One day they’ll dance alone

With pointes and slips and taps

And know that we come here every week

To avoid reality’s traps

For now, they watch with open mouths

Eyes wide when I come down from my tips

And as the music stops and we all pause

A smile forms on my lips

For little dancers don’t know the sorrow

That awaits them as they age

For now, they just know the older dancer’s steps

And the glory of the stage

***

I’ve devoted more than half of my life to dancing, from hip-hop workshops to years of tap classes to national competitions. I remember feeling extremely insecure when I was younger about my movements and image, and always looked towards the older dancers for an example. Now, as an older dancer, it is strange to see the children who crowd around the door to watch us perform. It brings back a sense of déjà vu and nostalgia, if I am using those terms correctly. As I recommend martial arts, I recommend dance. Sometimes, there is very little difference.