To Be a Ballerina

January 3rd, 2003
It's in two weeks. In two weeks, the judges are coming to my studio to hold auditions for the School of American Ballet intensive summer program. And I have to get it. If I don't get in, I will never prove to her that I'm serious about dance- that it's not just all competition, anorexia, and pulled muscles. It's a way of life.
My mother is uncaring about what I love. She thinks that I should use my brains and become a doctor, not a dancer. She doesn't know that dancing is all I care about. I make good grades because it's easy and it's good for my reputation, not because I want to go to grad school and become a millionaire with a boring job. She always says, "Alianna, you've got brains, use'em." When I tell her that I do, but I just want to dance, she starts a long unceasing tangent that always starts with "Alianna Renee Galinan you know that I think." and always ends with ".I just don't understand you."
She obviously doesn't.

January 9th, 2003
I just got back from dance, and had another blowout with mom in the car on the way home. Since I turned 14 and was old enough for working papers, my mom has made me pay for most of my own dance classes and supplies. This I feel is a fair exchange, but she acts like driving me back and forth on Mondays and Tuesdays is the hardest and most time consuming thing in the world. I had been in a good mood when I left class; I had done a very neat double turn and the teacher had seen and complimented it. That's always good, because most of the best stuff I do isn't when the teacher is looking. Mother didn't care, though, when I told her. She just asked me if I had finished my homework. As always, when I replied that I hadn't; I don't have time before dance, I do most of my homework after class, she snapped at me to get my priorities straight, I didn't deserve all these classes, or her spending her valuable time driving me back and forth all the time.
When I pointed out that my grades remain perfect, and have never fallen below an A-, she didn't say anything. We ate dinner and I went upstairs to my room in silence.

January 14th, 2003
I'm writing this now, in a break between classes. My pointe class starts in 30 minutes, and my toe shoes are old and the ribbons were fraying. I sewed new ones on, but I will need new shoes soon. Pointe shoes aren't safe after they have been used too many times; the shank softens and can't support the foot entirely. I won't be able to buy new ones for a long time though, because at this time of the year, there's no way I can get a job for a while, and I need to keep all the money I've saved to pay my tuition at the studio. I hope the people at the SAB audition don't mind that my shoes are so old.

January 17th, 2003
The audition is tomorrow. Mother doesn't want me to go. I don't know how to get there, since she refuses to drive me and none of my friends are trying out. I'll find a way, though. Not going is not an option, even if I have to go behind her back to get there.
Mother came in to watch class today. I don't know why. She had this look on her face the whole time, like she wanted to say something, but didn't dare say it in front of the other mothers watching through the viewing window today.
I fell out of a turn, and I just know she almost said something. It was entirely my old toe shoes' fault, too. I did do a really cool jump today. It was something new. Instead of a normal seau de chat leap, we did one that started with a pique turn, and a small turning jump, and then a glissade into an attitude jump. I've never done an attitude jump before, and I think I did very well. My mother didn't have much of a response to the jump, but she doesn't know that it was new and hard.

January 18th, 2003
The auditions are this afternoon. Under my street clothes, I've put on my best black leotard and a pair of clean pink tights without a rip. I also spent a long time getting my long hair into a perfect, neat bun. All in all, I think I look good, like a proper ballerina should. I'm going to take the bus into the city for the auditions. Luckily, it's not too far away, and although I'll have to take the money from my toe shoe savings, it'll be worth it to pay the bus fare to get me to SAB. Hopefully I'll be able to try out before my mother finds out that I'm not where I am supposed to be, spending the afternoon at my friend Rachel's house. I'll tell my mother after the letter comes in one week that tells if I got in or not. Later The auditions are over, finally, and I am writing this on the bus ride back form New York City to my home in Hoboken. I'm not sure if it went great or terribly. The beginning of the audition went OK, with the normal exercises at the barre, and a few short combinations across the room. However, during the adagio, we had to do a high develope to the front, and I lost my balance. I don't know if the judges saw that or not.
On the bright side, the most amazing thing happened. We were doing simple pirouettes, and I put too much force into one. At first I was scared, because I thought I would land too hard, and look sloppy, or worse, fall, but I didn't put my foot down after one revolution. I kept turning, and turning, and turning! As I turned, spotted, and kept my balance, I knew that everything would be OK, that everything would work out, if I could just land this turn. And I did! I landed a triple pirouette! In that moment of complete and utter dancing perfection, I knew that my life would be OK. And I know the judges saw that.
Now, in the head of knowing I did well, I'll tell my mom where I was, that I went to New York, and tried out for the School of American Ballet against her wishes. I'll tell her everything. She'll understand; she'll have to. This is what I was born to do, and this is what I'll keep doing. Even later, at midnight, with a flashlight
I hope this is readable; I'm crying, and my tears are getting the paper all wet. When I got home, it was dark out, and my mother had opened the door before I'd even started to get my key out of my purse. She pulled me into an insane hug, saying how she was about to call the police; she was so worried about me. She said she had called Rachel's house to tell me that Giselle was playing on TV, but when she had asked Rachel's mother to speak to me, her mother had replied that I wasn't there.
I felt bad that I had caused her to worry, so I just told her to sit down on the living room couch. I started out by saying that I told Rachel to cover for me, and I had taken a bus to New York. Her eyes widened really big, but before she could start to say 'How could you?' I blurted out, "It was for SAB, Mom. The auditions were today, and I just couldn't miss them. Dancing is what I was made to do, Mom. Ballet is what I love. It's my life! Don't you see?
To my surprise, she started to cry. Her thin shoulders were shaking as she said, "Yes, yes, Alianna. I do see. And I knew. I knew you would go, that there was nothing I could do about it. I just want you to have a good life, and with dance, that's just so hard to do. So many girls out there dream big-to be in a company, to be on Broadway, to be famous-it happens to so few." Her voice turned slightly bitter through her tears. "I should know. I dance ballet once, too. That's why I started you in it when you were little." I gasped. I hadn't known she did ballet.
She continued, "I hoped you would get the joy of dancing, but I could still convince you to make the ultimate path in your life lead somewhere else, so that you wouldn't have to feel the pain of being rejected. I felt that pain, and didn't want you to feel it. I don't know if you will. I see now that I can't choose your life. I hope you're good enough to beat'em all." She smiled, and reached under the couch, pulling out a pale pink box. The label was upside-down, so it was kind of hard for me to read. C-a-p-e-z- i-o. Capezio! My mother pulled out a pair of beautiful, brand-new pointe shoes out of the box. I started to cry myself. I hadn't even realized she knew I needed new ones. "It took some snooping to figure out what size you were," she admitted. "But I saw you in class yesterday, and you reminded me so much of myself, and I saw, when you did that jump, how frayed your pointe shoes were, with threads flying out, and all. I figured, if anything, I could at least get you new ones, since you work so hard."
At that point, I threw myself on her, hugging her. She asked me how the auditions went, and I told her. But at that moment, and just now, I don't really care what the letter says.