What is it like to be a beautiful dancer
Of ballet, of jazz, of modern dance
The traditional tutus and gowns the midriff and scantily-liberated playfulness of
Dance shorts booty shorts and gymnastics leotards
Lace, bobby socks, stockings and stocking-less-ness
And dance shoes, boots or bare feet
The celebration but visual dissection of the body, tightly clothed, barely clothed
Translucent in its femininity and grace but ever present in the instant
Wonderfully natural in free movement and tauntingly fluid
In being unnatural-classical?
The pointed toes, developed calves, but the lovely long legs,
Kicking out legacy after legacy
The feet in the air, toe-tips holding the body
As if boneless but still standing
Strong, taut stomachs glaring with sweat
The pumping pelvis, swaying hips and the booty popping
Never stopping but hardly once only to smile in blazing lights,
The heat of being viewed under visual amplification
And through the makeup and the tears of perfection.
I see her then in the “preamble” the still pose in the beginning before the dancing
She is statue like, glares at the audience with a surety, with a classical confidence this time
And she holds out her hand so much so that one often misses that she does not have one.
Yet, she’s the premier ballerina, center on stage, under the magnifying glass
I am moved with I-cannot-help-it tears
This is what it means to be a girl on “being-seen steroids”
But she handles it with hand-less arm outstretched
In a beautifully vulnerable but tough-as-steel moment
While her parent seems doubtful, unsure, and protective
Whisking the girl away after, a blur of peach-colored nylon
A glimpse of a blushed face and double eyeliner
An act of being tentatively unseen-seen.
She was there, she was classic-classical but intriguing
Boldly confident within the confines of adolescent uncertainty
But with a poise of a mature women
Where we peer at her, magnify her, and assess
If she’s good or not, cute or not, pretty or not,
Fat or not, skinny or not, or noticed or not.
Earl Yarington (LMSW) is a social worker and school bus driver. He taught literature and writing for nearly 20 years and spent 3 years working in forensic social work internships with offending populations, including work at Delaware Correctional facilities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has a PhD in literature and criticism (feminism/women writers) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, and an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Arts from Arizona State University, where he studied the impact of visual image and girlhood in media/social media. He also has an MA and BS in English from SUNY College at Brockport. The opinions and analyses that Earl writes are his own and are not necessarily the positions or views of his employers, the agencies he supports, or that of his colleagues. Reach out with comments or questions.