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I nodded to her: No problem.
“Now, with me, on the beat … plié … plié … plié …”
The word itself became the count, the forceful plee the dip, the breathless yeh the rise. For a half dozen pliés, I was keeping up, adapting to the cadences of her voice. The two of us were partners, bodies in motion together. But then, accidentally, I glimpsed myself in the mirror. The truth hit hard. I was not Anna’s partner. I was a dancing bear. No, I was one of those Ray Harryhausen clay dinosaurs that lurch between frames of film. The hunch in my shoulders as I curled my arms was australopithecine.
“Right leg brushes forward and back! Foot pointed! Now … brush … brush … brush …”
As I watched my right foot swinging forward and back, I was determined not to look in the mirror again. My balance was shaky. I wobbled on my left leg twice, but I continued to brush. For the remainder of the class, I sank back into myself, focused on Anna’s directions, mimicked her movements half-heartedly. What I wanted, throughout, was to be back in centerfield, circling underneath a fly ball, doing something I was good at — and I wanted Anna sitting in the bleachers. Watching me. Nodding her head.
WHEN THE CLASS ENDED, I HURRIED out. Never again, I thought. That resolution intensified the following morning: I ached in places I’d never ached before, felt spasms where I didn’t know I had muscles. Still, as the week wore on, I began to waver. The aches faded, the spasms petered out. I was left with the recognition that ballet was the first physical activity I’d ever been bad at. Sure, I’d been mediocre at lots of things, but never bad. I began to feel for those kids in the playground — you know, the last picks of the pick-up games, the Philips and Marvins and Iras, who seemed predestined to watch grounders dribble through their legs or pop ups ricochet off their chests. They always came back. Week after week, praying perhaps that their bodies would start to follow their wills, that their mental images would suddenly match reality, that the recipe for athletic coordination would finally dawn on them.
Of course, it never did.
Nevertheless, that is my hope now as I return week after week to The Ballet Workout: that someday, suddenly, I will glance past Anna and into the mirror and see something that resembles a dancer.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?