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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Young Writers Project: 'Happy Ballerina'

Courtesy, Alexandra Contreras-Montesano
Alexandra Contreras-Montesano, a sophomore at Burlington High School, wrote this piece after being inspired by serious dancers.

she dances her way out of everything/soaring/arms curled cruelly around her head.
passe/develope/grande jete/and she's off/
i was a fool to think she could keep her eyes away from the mirror.
she glances/face glistening at her reflection/punctuating every tondu with a gaze.
i tell her to be happy and she laughs/her feet bleeding as she jumps again.
'i am happy' she replies/casting a longing look at the stage.she turns until she is sick/her legs whipping/spinning as she reaches the corner.
she heaves breathless gasps/chin to collarbone/face to the light.
one combination mastered/she grins at herself/prodding a loose bun/once severe.
'don't you want to live?'/ i ask her one day in the night.
'no'/ she says/'i want to dance.'
i find her at the barre at 3am again/she can't sleep/sweat stings her pupils.
tomorrow is the show/i remind her/as if that isn't what she breathes for.
i hear her showering for an hour before she leaves for rehearsal/i was dirty/she shrugs.

neither of us sleeps before the storm/we lie eyes open/stars reflected in our palms.
i am alone in the morning/abandoned as she sweeps her supplies into a bag/clicks the door shut/and pauses.
then she leaves/starting her car/not offering me a ride/even though i am dancing too.
i find my way to the theater regardless/fists clenched/jaw sore.
the curtains open/i shut eyes against the eyes/ i wait for her/one last time.

she enters the stage on point/arms trembling/eyebrows wilting.
i enter after/right behind her/lifting her toward the ceiling/toward the crowd.
are you happy?/i whisper in her ear as she drops from my arms/she turns toward me/stops/mouth hanging.
she freezes onstage as the music starts/looking at me like i have betrayed her.
the audience waits/she stills/ i ask.
i am happy she tells the crowd/her eyes wide/the spotlight blinding.
i am happy she repeats/the audience is quiet as the music leaves her alone.
i am happy she sighs/as i embrace her/crushed petals and velvet feet padding across the stage.
i am happy she whispers/mouth to my shoulder/eyes shut/hands splayed.
i am happy she cries/now turned to the audience/eyes shuttered/toes pointed/deadly.
i am happy she finishes/head low/shoulders high/arms crossed/tutu bent/tiara fallen.

the audience roars/standing ovation/diamond and gold roses are thrown/cheers on their mouths/tears in their eyes.
she runs offstage/dragging me behind her/red seeps through her shoes/flowers sparkle in her hair.
her mouth is heavy/ toe shoes wrapped around her wrist/soul silent/pink dawn/a car ride.
when we get home/she falls asleep next to her tutu/jade gems and fabric/imprint on her cheek.
i replace her costume with covers/her eyelids fluttering/her smile fixed.
they loved you/i tell her/in the morning/when she can hear me.
i loved you/i tell her/deep in the night/when she can't hear me.

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