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As many of you know, the 11 members of the Lighthouse Teen Council have been hard at work on a collaboration with the young choreographers at Ballet Nouveau Colorado. In the Along, our collaboration, is similar to Mike Henry and Garrett Ammon’s Intersection; the writers wrote, then the dancers spun these vignettes into short pieces for the stage.
Since we began working with BNC last fall, we’ve gone through many drafts and cheese blocks and Ritz crackers at the Lighthouse tables. We’ve learned a lot about the winding roads of Broomfield and which ones don’t lead to BNC. Most importantly, we’ve learned a little bit more about the awkward, self-acknowledging work of being writers.
Lighthouse Teen Council member and East High School sophomore, Aubin Fefley, shares her experience below. We hope you’ll be there to see the show! Performances are this Sunday, May 20 at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM at the Broomfield Auditorium (tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children, and can be purchased online here or at the door).
My sister is a dancer. She is two and a half years my junior, all graceful lean muscle and no hips. She is poised, and strong, and flexible. Elegant. She does not stand how I do, with one hip cocked and one knee bent to downplay my height, or perhaps make myself seem more approachable. And so as she embraced that world of fluid physical movement, perfectly at home in a leotard, working her pointe shoes to tatters until the pink satin turned gray, I turned away from it completely. My definition of dance left the stage, only to reveal itself in cowboy boots, stompin’ across the floor of the Grizzly Rose to the twang of a banjo, or pajama-clad, binge-eating junk food, and stepping left arrow, left arrow, front, back, cross, high score!
When my sister admitted she wouldn’t particularly mind my absence at her various performances, I stopped going. No hard feelings. Nothing else said. Writing is my thing. Well, that and some largely failed athletics that aren’t important. But writing does not require upper body strength, or a toned physique, or even coordination beyond what is needed to apply pen to paper. So naturally, it was writing that brought dance back into my life.
But it’s not like I freaked out or anything. I could do poetry. I could do words. Those twins that come as such a nuisance to a portion of the population held my full confidence. I was fairly sure that I would be able to sit back and enjoy as “my dancer,” Megan (God bless her for putting up with me), turned my careful phrases into something visually appealing.
And so time passed. Pieces were revised. Music and costume-based disagreements were resolved amicably and professionally. And now, with the performance a mere four days away (and counting) I can say with some certainty (and an element of pride) that I only felt uncomfortable once.
I had to bow.
It seems simple. Raised arms, and a bend at the waist. But mentally, there was so much more.
I pictured my sister, at the end of her most recent performance. Eyes bright and cheeks rouged to pop under the harsh lights, she had been grinning like the unnatural movement was second nature to her. And maybe it was. But not to me. Some are born for the spotlight, and I do not count myself among that lucky few.
When people read good writing, they appreciate the words. If it is read to them, they like the way it sounds. There is grammar. There is sentence structure. And on another level entirely, there are the characters, the plot, and the intricacies of dialogue. The author, in a sense, can seem secondary. And to me that’s okay. If people are reading my writing, if it is making them think in any small way, my name in a small-type subheading is all the recognition I need.
It was only rehearsal. I was facing a crowd of maybe fifteen, all familiar faces, but bowing still felt presumptuous. Pretentious. I had not contorted my body in unbelievable ways or amazed anyone with my limitless grace and beauty. What was I bowing for? So face flaming, I did as told and returned to my seat. And then I started thinking.
Maybe I really deserve this recognition. Maybe next time, standing up there in my thrift store outfit, pen in hand, I can appreciate the applause. I trip over my own feet, but I can be graceful. This is not my world, but in all my self-consciousness, my poetry is a side of me few people see. It all fits. Next time, I will spill forth confidence and imagine my waist encircled in layers of dreamy tulle. I will share my sister’s grace, and I will know how it feels. Maybe now I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I’m getting preachy. But I am a writer.
Watch me bow.