The Dance Teacher

The community has seen you thrown around a man's shoulders, then slung to his feet smiling, your back arched, feet pointed, sometimes a shadow of graceful passion behind the scrim, other times performed center stage, his fingers noticeably pressed into your waist, your thighs in the light.

Each concert it works for jazz, ballet, or modern — the pas de deux the man, always a new student who can't move well yet, but sturdy as a tree trunk, lifts you, whirls you, circles the stage with you above him, your fingers fanned in bravura, legs starched in a kick back, your neck muscles propping up your grin, just as the fog rolls in from the wings and the girls waltz on, laced with garlands of plastic flowers, surrounding you like an altar.

This is what you're known for, to be light enough to be tossed around on stage, a few moments of being handled and the audience squirms and ahhhs! and little girls with sticky fingers suddenly want to dance watching you up there, pretending to be a swan, a mermaid, a fountainhead, a spout, a chronic fixture.

Method of composition: Decide what you do best. Or worst. That is a skill (or lack thereof). If this occurs in context with another person, or in front of other people, it is an encounter. In your journal, describe emotions related to this skill or encounter. Focus on how you felt when you performed the skill well, poorly, or uniquely or when you put the encounter into perspective. This represents your peak experience or epiphany. Do not recount mere events leading to your peak experience or epiphany or you will end up with a narrative poem. Instead discuss all aspects of the experience, how each aspect made you feel, and then rank those aspects and emotions from least significant to most, building to an ending.

Re-create an experience that did not, cannot or has yet to happen. Usually such a lyric fulfills the "what if?" impulse that each of us feels on occasion. Ruth Daigon says of such poetry: "It can anticipate what might be the reader's experience in the future and increases the reader's insight about what lies ahead."

An example from my files, set in the future, warns what might lie ahead if we lose our humanity and compassion:

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