Scene: at the barre, final équilibre in arabesque. Our teacher is doing rounds and I´m the last student in line. I hold my pose until the end of the music, and then some - but there are a lot of students and I can feel my supporting leg cramping.. I need to come down and shake my legs, but there is no escaping Madame´s friendly scrutiny, so I quickly relevé up again, raise my leg into arabesque and let go of the barre. And just in time..
"Stretch your knees!" Check. "Point your toes, more!" Check. Then she hoists my leg up way higher, and okay, no problem, I can do this. "Front arm further!" Check. I do as told, already going beyond the strictly academic, but it´s too high and not what she is asking for. "Further, more!", and seriously, I am not kidding you. So I try to reach out even more, short of popping my shoulder blade, and trying hard not to topple off my center.
I imagine myself yearning for someone (a prince, maybe?) or somewhere, even though there is no place I´d rather be right now. I let my front arm take me and my back leg hold me and.. there it is. Arabesque is not a static position, but a movement. There is energy going in every direction, into the floor and out of the tips of your fingers and the toes of your feet. You don´t just hold your pose, you tell a story..
Picture: Oliva Bell in Black Swan pas de deux. Photography Justin Smith