Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tears and Toe shoes by Carole P. Roman

Tears and Toe shoes

by Carole P. Roman

I bought a subscription to the ballet this season. I had stopped going when my mother passed away. She was my ballet partner. I used to pick her up from work in Astoria, Queens. She always wore something just a little special, her make-up was grander, and some shiny piece of jewelry usually made an appearance. I knew going to Lincoln Center made her feel refined and sophisticated. We’d dine at the Grand Tier restaurant. She loved the elegance and the superior service we’d receive.
I remember holding her hand at one performance, shortly after we’d received the news she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. We stared up at stage captivated and my eyes filled. It was a perfect moment when the dancer’s expertise took your breath away. I don’t recall who was dancing, but I do remember it was the ballet Don Quixote. It was the part when Kitri holds Basile’s hand and stands en pointe until she is perfectly steady, then with precise balance, releases her hold to an awed audience. I turned to my mom and thought with horror, who will go with me when she was no longer here?Who would share this with me?
That was our last time outing of any kind other than chemotherapy. She spiraled quickly and soon passed. It was followed by my husband’s equally appalling diagnosis of lung cancer and years of grueling treatments and caretaking.
When my husband passed in the early winter, panic overwhelmed me. I was not used to the freedom of having time on my hands. When a pop-up ad on my computer showed dancers, without thinking I bought my first subscription in over twelve years.
The tickets came, La Bayadere, Romeo and Juliet, Harlequinade, Giselle, Don Quixote- a lush offering. Sadness overwhelmed me. Who would go? Who did I want to share the experience with? Would they understand what ballet really means? How one moment, one step can capture an entire audience and hold them in collective awe to be followed by the thunderous shouts and applause of appreciation. It’s an experience, a collection of diverse souls, brought together with the shared love of watching a dancer perform steps with synchronized perfection following in the footsteps of all the dancers that came before them.
I took an assortment of people, friends, and relatives. Most had never been to a ballet. I was nervous- would they be bored or worse, want to leave?
Dinner was as divine as I remembered and my guests enjoyed the white glove service. More importantly than that, they loved the ballet. They didn’t think it was boring or pompous. Some enjoyed the orchestrations, others found the dancer’s bodies enthralling, but for me, I found moments of sublime perfection again.
When Juliet drapes herself across her tomb to touch Romeos’s hand in her final throes of death, and when the Willies force a man to dance to his demise in Giselle, or lastly, that one moment, that breathtaking second when Kitri let’s go of her lover’s hand to stand alone, it all came back to me. Ballet is forever, and my mother may not have been there in person, but I know I felt her hand in mine, squeezing it and sharing the joy.

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