First ballet shoes

The pink of the leather turned out to be a lighter shade than I’d hoped, it looked like the underside of a kitten, and the sole was a dirty grey cat’s tongue, and there were no long pink satin ribbons to criss-cross over the ankles, no only a sad elastic strap (…)

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

I remember my first ballet shoes. After being accepted to the dance school, my mum took me to Porfirios in Rua Santa Catarina to buy the light blue leotard and skirt and that same kind of faded ballet pink leather shoes. I don’t actually remember the details but I remember the smell of those very first ballet slippers.

Scent is, in a way,  charged with history (…) the sense of smell is, as McLuhan stresses,” iconic”. In the same perspective, we could also say that it is the narrative epic sense. It brings together, weaves and condenses historic happenings into an image, into a narrative composition. 

Byung-Chul Han, The Scent of Time

Scent gives us back who we are by conferring some kind of stability to our own narrative, allowing us to make sense of ourselves by composing some sort of self-portrait. My childhood smells like new ballet shoes. This is a scent I have tried in vain to reencounter. New ballet shoes don’t have that exact smell anymore. In October last year, I bought new shoes. I prefer canvas to leather now and split soles and pre-sewn elastics. I haven’t been to ballet class yet. Life or some other excuse has been in the way.

It was also the aroma of possibilities, once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Rehearsing


Last time I was on stage I think I was around 14. It’s been well over 20 years. I was afraid then, I feel terrified now. I do an adult ballet class twice a week and although I never dreamt of being a ballerina, the fantasy of performing tends to be irresistible. And, when invited to be part of the final year show,  I said yes. Now, one month to go and after what has been feeling like never ending,exhausting  rehearsals, I realize, once more, that not all challenges should be taken on. The fear of being on stage will, at this point, have to be conquered. The certainty that I have not actually achieved the mastery that would transform it into some kind of second nature experience is making me feel like I’m cheating.