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"How can you know what you're capable of if you don't embrace the unknown?"

 -Esmeralda Santiago

Esmeralda Santiago is the acclaimed author of When I Was Puerto Rican. Learn more at esmeraldasantiago.com.

Another Month...

Days are shorter; night comes sooner. Does that make it harder to write? Perhaps. And becoming president of the Writers of the Mendocino Coast leaves less time for writing, as I knew it would. So I've rewritten a piece from a class I took earlier this year, focusing on slow motion and staying in the moment. See below...            


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 Stage Presence

Waiting behind the curtain for the final segment of the show, the lithe woman with long limbs and a perfect bun on the top of her head, dressed in a pink leotard and matching tutu, hears her cue, moving her right foot gently, pointing as she places it in front, in sync with the music. She dances slowly at first, then increases her speed slightly with each additional step. At the same time, her arms lift and stretch overhead, one gracefully moving forward as the other reaches behind. Her feet turn right, as her arches lift, twirling in the same direction, creating a repetitive pattern with the momentum. A smattering of applause begins, then increases.     

            The ballerina perches high on her toes, leg muscles tightening. A male partner, emerging from the other side of the stage, appears in white tights, a loose long sleeved shirt, and a short, striped vest. He reaches for the female dancer's waist as she leaps, both feet closing tightly together, then lifts her high over his head as she stretches backward until both legs are even with her arms, outstretched in front. Her facial muscles relax as she settles into position, opening her lips into a slight smile as the clapping continues. He twirls her in a series of quick circles, then carries her torso downward, in front of him, as she touches the wooden floor gently with her toes, loosening muscles as her heels land, in a grand finale.

             The duo walks forward together, in unison, one step at a time, toes pointing first, then heels, repeating this movement several times until they both stand, with perfect posture, near the front of the stage. His right arm holds her waist from behind, as the other one reaches for her left hand. She smiles broadly. Together, the two dancers bend their heads toward their waists, then stand up slowly. His arms guide her forward as he stays in place. The ballerina takes two tiny steps, toes pointing before her heels reach the floor. She bends slowly again, lingering a moment as the crowd roars its approval.

             "I've done it," she says inwardly, as a drop of sweat slides off her forehead. "No mistakes, and they like me."