I’ve been going through some of my school work in from the last year or two, and I rediscovered a set of assignments for a writing class I took last summer. This was one of my favorites:
There were only a few minutes until the beginning of the annual dance recital, and I was fumbling with my pointe shoe ribbons, unable to tie them in my haste. Finally I was able to make a knot, and I looked up, sighing with relief. Noisy chatter bubbled through the immense, brightly lit room as dancers in vibrant costumes flitted from one end to the other like exotic birds in a tropical forest. I made my way to the crowded mirror where I smoothed my hair for the fifteenth time. Suddenly, faint music began in the distance, and my heart skipped a beat. Instantly the room fell silent, and each girl stood tense and still. The show had begun. Quietly, we lined up in the order we were to perform. My classmates gathered near me, and we adjusted the ribbons on each other’s costumes one last time. Then we stepped out of the warm light and ascended the dark flight of narrow steps to the stage.
Backstage was nearly pitch black, lit only by what light made its way through the curtains over the entrance to the stage. As I waited for my class’ turn to perform, I began to rehearse the dance in my head. Suddenly the choreography vanished from my mind. My heart thundered, my legs melted into pudding, and an icy hand gripped my heart. I tried to collect my thoughts, but there was no time. The audience was waiting. Heaving a deep breath, I led the way towards the deserted stage with my legs and arms trembling uncontrollably.
The music began to play and at once the steps leapt into my mind as fast as they had left. Confidently, I stepped onto the stage and began to dance. The blinding light dazzled my eyes and made me dizzy, for I could see nothing but the swirling red skirts of my companions. I thought surely I would fall, but somehow I managed to stay on my feet. Finally my eyes adjusted to the light, and the energy in the crescendoing music pulsed through my body. The thrill of performance gave life to my movements, and I danced and twirled and leapt as I had never done before. Too soon the melody faded, and I found myself curtseying low as applause rained down from the audience.