rosy (the ballarina)
(this unfinished letter was found in the dressing room of Paul H. Millard, the principal ballet dancer of the world famous ‘Ladbroke Grove Dance Company’, which was dissolved in 1941)
But the reason I’m writing you is that I’ve bumped into Rosy yesterday. Perhaps you don’t remember who she was, because we were just kids back then.
I’ve never believed in my own talent. The reason for that was Rosy.
For me becoming a dancer was a child’s dream, a desperate wish. For her it seemed to be a given fact. The moves I was working on, the figures I sweated to learn, she seemed to have known forever. While I and the other kids were cautiously stretching before the lesson, she was smoking on the toilet or eating the greasy chips from her father’s inn.
She was so completely careless that one has to come to the conclusion that her fate is decided for her, her dancing career was written and pre-destined long time ago. Never have I seen a shadow of a doubt in her eyes.
The fastest escape route from our obscure little town into a glamour of dancing halls was Madam Colliers and her touring Ballet and Dancing Company. They would show up every two or three years to throw a single evening performance and before the show Madam would hold a short workshop for local upcoming talents.
We all knew Rosy was in trouble – nobody could imagine her father letting her attend the afternoon workshop when he always made her work in his pub.
That morning in school she grabbed my arm and pushed me into the girls bathroom. Pressing her index finger to her lips she waited for the bell announcing the first lesson. As the school went quiet she looked at me with a smile. Effortlessly she lifted up her leg and propped the tip of her foot to the wall a good foot over her head. The she asked me to brake her wrist, so that she can avoid her work in the pub. She kneeled down, laid her arm over the toilet bowl and covered it with the lit
‘I cannot do it myself. Sit on the lid – headlong,’
she said calmly.
‘Paul, you’re my only chance – I count on you! … You fucking coward! Are you a man or a baby girl?’
I sat on the lid and she gave a quiet sigh.
When Rosy showed up for the workshop that afternoon her hand was wrapped in a plaster. She was as gay and careless as ever. During the workshop Madam Colliers watched our group doing our routines and slowly walked through the stage. She passed me as she passed all others before and the only one she stopped by was Rosy. She watched her for 10 minutes.
‘What happened to your wrist?,’
asked the elderly ballerina finally.
Not breaking her pose Rosy turned her face to Madam and with a simple dignified way explained she had to broke it herself as otherwise her father wouldn’t let her come for Madams lesson.
‘Really? Well only a damn idiot would do that,’said the famous dancer and left the stage.
The workshop was over.
I always remembered Rosy with that dumbfounded look in her eyes, a look of a person who simply cannot comprehend the words she hears.
I think of her soul as a huge balloon blown-up to a super-human size with her hopes and desires. It didn’t burst that day. She didn’t cry nor quit dancing. She was dumbfounded.
A small, microscopic hole appeared in the balloon and started the process of a deflation.
Shortly afterwards I left the town with my parents, but used to come back for all holidays to visit my grandma.
I watched her dance at our schools graduation ceremony. She was stunning, but her moves were a little bit hesitant.
I entered a dance academy and worked with a Spartan discipline.
I saw her the next year, we were 17 by then, in a local pantomime. She had a boyfriend now and seemed timid and quiet.
I led an austere life and became a professional by 20.
At the same time she married and got pregnant. She abandoned her dreams with a strange simplicity. The profanity embraced her with it’s portly arms. She had been on the road with the pantomime company since then…
Yesterday when I saw her on the street, she looked pretty, content and ordinary.
There’s the bell – I have to go on stage now. I’ve starred in more than 50 shows by now George and still when I’m on the stage I feel like I don’t belong there…
(the letter finishes here)
London, diverse parks and Tate Modern
Matthias Rick mit Manfred Eccli and Katerina Videnova
comissioned by UP projects / Portavillion 2010
bubble built by Luft und Laune