This dance

There hasn’t been much sun over the past week in Singapore, and it looks like London: the sky is grey and it’s been pouring. But even then, the rain is different; the weather is humid as hell; the space is gentler.

Last night, someone told me she had called off her engagement and was about to move to Melbourne. Now, she teaches drama and is part of a local theatre ensemble.

“As a playbacker, yknow, you respect other people’s stories. I approached this genuinely.”

“This” began as an untrodden space. They watched her teetering on tiptoe, then it led from joint to joint. Sometimes she put her entire foot down, but only for a little while, then it was back up again. “This” was in the centre of a well-lit studio with wide mirrors and a piano in a corner. The ballerina bars never appeared to have been used; they were coated with a thick layer of dust.

It must’ve been tiring to dance on her toes for so long, although her partner never felt the same way. “If I can’t possess you, you will not have me.” So he told her to carry on while he went away at times, leaving her in that elevated but ever-descending position at the centre of the studio, always waiting to spin. Position. Stop fidgeting. Prove loyal. She never turned her head away from the Exit sign above the door he walked through: shoulders back, neck strained towards the light.

This door was one of two, and it led down a flight of black stairs, tucked away in a corner of the building. This was the less known way up, and sometimes it’d lead on for days and days before it got to the top. Nobody knew how long it’d take, and they could never journey with another because it was that… personal. There was never a queue or at least, nobody had ever seen another enter at the same time. But they’d approach it with a gleam in their eyes after leaving their secret with a confidante, family member or past lover. And all they’d say would be, “You’re doing the wrong thing, but good luck.”

On the day of the show, she slipped as he finally collected her, and danced with two broken feet to the sequence they had practised 7 months before. The audience was surprisingly wild, given the fact that it was a ballet concert after all. At points in the performance, they’d give standing ovations that would last for minutes. But they never stepped out of the mirrors.

There was no music, but the steps were still fresh in her head.
He would have this dance.


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