Backstage

From a prewriting for my portrait of my ballet teacher:

Weekends, all day, every day was ballet (except when it was soccer). The only time I had was in the dressing rooms. And, surrounded by home-schooled girls who couldn’t string a subject and verb together to make a sentence for their lives, I was a total nerd. But I didn’t care about that, I just didn’t want to have to write backstage. It was noisy and cramped. Someone was always asking for help with their hair or makeup. People sang loudly and off key. Svetlana yelled at everyone within range in Russian while brandishing her scissors, scaring the younger girls, who ended up running through the warren-like system of dressing rooms shrieking and giggling. There was always someone in tears over one thing or another. The three boys of the company could never be found. You would spend ages waiting, hawk-like, for a chair and a little counter-room to work at, but the minute your wait was rewarded, you’d have to get up to go to the bathroom, or deliver something to Marat, or to race to the wings carrying the littlest angel’s candle which had been forgotten downstairs in all the chaos. When you returned, the chair you had painstakingly won and guarded had been taken over by an imposing level six girl with feet like tree-bark, gnarled and hardened by point solution, and who always seemed to be only half-laced into her clothing.

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