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La jeune fille qui danse parmi les étoiles

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Josette Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 04 Oct 2013
Posts: 105
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Can Be Found: most likely rehearsing
4621.16 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:40 pm    Post subject: La jeune fille qui danse parmi les toiles Reply with quote

I do not know why I am starting this diary now. It seems silly. Maybe I want to remember all the moments that made my being here worth it. Maybe it is from a place of pure ego and I want others to read what stirred my heart when I am gone. Whatever the reason, I am compelled to write it in this diary before I’m to leave this body. (For longer than brief periods of time)

I want to look back and remember. I want to look back and remember when I am afraid and weak and this human shell is unrecognizable. I want to remember something beautiful. I’ll read these pages again when I want to remember why it was I came here in the first place. When my thoughts are scattered and I cannot ground myself, I want something tactile to hold while I read these words. To feel my fingers trace over the words and the paper. I want to remember what made my heart soar and gave me hope and brought me Joy. When my body is falling apart on me, this is what remains. These moments are the heartbeats that keep time with my soul.

The first time it happened it took me by surprise during a trip to New York when I was six. After that, it almost became an addiction; some kind of escape I suppose, or something I used as a coping mechanism for places or situations that I found unpleasant or did not have the tools to deal with at the time. It certainly came in handy in those months at the hospital when I was in pain and my hair was falling out and wished to be anywhere but there.

But that night, it took me quite by the surprise for it was the sheer joy of the moment that accessed the ability within me the first time. It was the first time I was completely overtaken by something bigger than me. I think it was a combination of the music, the dancing and the elation I felt that enabled me to transcend the physical body to be someplace else.

We had come to New York after Fashion Week in Paris under the guise of celebrating the holidays in a new and exciting city (at least for me). In truth, it was an excuse to visit one of Maman’s revolving door of lovers (though I hadn’t realized it then). She had arranged it perfectly so she could have her freedom, while it was one of the few times of the year I actually got to see my Father.

They made the hand-off with me at the King Cole bar at the St. Regis. I do not remember much of that particular exchange. It comes in bits and pieces. Snap shots of my Father gathering me into his arms, the sight of my Mother removing a hotel room key from her purse over my Father’s shoulder and the feel of my Father’s fist tightening when my Mother called after him to not allow me to dirty my shoes or my dress.

Whether it bothered him or not, or whether he knew where she was going during that time, I’ll never know. Their affair had been brief, my Mother told me. They had no real claim on the other after all, for obvious reasons. Their only connection afterwards revolved around me and discussions of scheduled visits, treatment options and medical bills.

I never asked them if they loved each other for that brief time. I never asked if they both made the decision to keep me, or if one insisted. Maybe I really didn’t want to know. You can’t go back and erase truths after they are spoken. That is the beauty and the tragedy of them. They sit inside you like so many echoes and creep up on you in quiet moments to either whisper or shout in your ear depending on the day and its distractions. I guess it does not matter now. I knew that he loved me and I know my Mother loves me in her way. That is what I choose to carry with me.

New York at that age felt as much like a fairyland at Christmas. There is a kinetic thrill to the energy in the air that cannot be duplicated at any other time of year. Even though the cold stung my nose as I was not used to the bite of New York winters, I hardly noticed. There were too many delights in the air to be enjoyed and a symphony of sounds to hear. The scent of roasting chestnuts from various vendors on street corners, the lights from the stores that lit up the streets in spectacular splendor, the honking horns of taxi cabs, the rush of heel clicks from women who looked like they stepped right out of the pages of Maman’s magazines.

My young eyes devoured everything and it was safe to see such things while tucked neatly against my Father’s chest. I asked him why he held me a little tighter when we passed certain people and I will never forget his words. “Wolves do not just exist in the woods my Josie.”

My Father was to take me to see The Nutcracker at the David H. Koch Theater and this began my love affair with the ballet. I remember him carrying me because there was so much residue of salt, slush and ice upon the sidewalks. He did not want my feet to get wet or to muddy the shine of my tiny black patent leather shoes.

“The tree Papa! The tree!” I squirmed in his arms and pointed excitedly at the Christmas tree that seemed to extend from the fountain in the middle of Lincoln Center as if it had sprouted directly from it. My Father had chuckled, relented to my squirming and set me down upon the edge of the fountain. I remember the rush of cold air around my legs as I twirled and the feel of his hand in mine as he held it aloft as I spun. I remember the feel of his arms catching me after I had slipped, seconds before I hit the water. It is one of those feelings I love the most. It is something I treasure and that I frequently got to experience whenever I was practicing a pas de deux. There is something so reassuring about the sensation of arms catching you seconds before you hit the ground.

From my youthful perspective, when I entered the theater it looked like it was covered with gold and diamonds. The ornate, spherical chandelier that hung above us had me tugging my father’s hand and asking if those were real diamonds as I stared up at the ceiling in awe. The lights nestled within the ceiling looking like so many stars within a golden night sky.

My Father gave me a sideways look and his smile was a bit resigned. “I fear you may have inherited your Mother’s admiration for things that sparkle, my dear.” He kissed my hand fondly and I fidgeted along with the other children in their holiday best to the sounds of the orchestra tuning their various instruments until the lights went down and the audience applauded for the seemingly very important man who entered with a spot light tracking his entrance and shining upon him. He bowed to us before he faced the stage again. “That is the conductor Josette,” My Father whispered. “He leads the orchestra.”

There is a beat when the conductor raises his arms, a captivating, magical moment where there is a quiet hush that sweeps across the audience. Every breath is held in anticipation as if waiting for its cue. A magnetic energy pulses in the air seconds before the first note is played and the curtain parts to reveal part of the world that will draw you into its embrace of suspended disbelief for the next few hours. It is a particular high wherever live music, theater and dance is shared between the souls in attendance and those performing that is difficult to match anywhere else. That moment when the curtain rose was the beginning of something even I could not have dreamed of at that tender age, and yet I was forever changed by what transpired afterwards….

(to be continued)
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Josette Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 04 Oct 2013
Posts: 105
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: most likely rehearsing
4621.16 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(cont Part Deux)

As the curtain rose and the overture played with those beginning notes produced by lively violins that stirred excitement in my heart, I will never forget the sight of the painted scene that greeted my wide eyes.

An Angel flying high over the snow covered rooftops of Nuremberg reaching out to a shooting star. What is it about stars and Angels that seem to announce that something truly divine was about to transpire? I loved her face, I loved the kindness and serenity the artist captured there. I loved the magnificence of her wings. I remember the rich pink of her dress, the way the artist played with an array of shades of pink to create a billowing effect that made one feel as if they were floating aloft with her.

The loveliness of that angel flying over sparkling, snow covered rooftops seemed to capture all the mysterious, blood stirring magic of Christmas Eve. The image is something that stays with me in moments when my mind reaches out for something lovely.

There are no words in a ballet and none are needed. Perhaps that is what makes it such a uniquely woven tapestry of the arts. There is nothing extraneous to detract from the beauty of the music, and the story is told through the awe inspiring movement of the body.

The Land of Sweets in the second Act is every child’s dream of a confectionery wonderland that delights the eye in an explosion of color. A dream world adorned with sugared lace, great columns of candy canes, adornments of fruit, gumdrops and ribbon candy as far as the eye could see. The sugar plum fairy’s introduction accompanied by the sounds of the celesta that tickled along my spine like the whisper of a celestial dream as she tip toed into every little girl’s dream of being a prima on pointe with a tutu like a delicate whisper of spun sugar.

Who but Tchaikovsky could compose a moment in nature and capture the flurry of snowflakes with a beautifully mastered flute and glide of a harp? The delicacy of the triangle timed perfectly with each movement and capturing the delicacy of tiny icicles without words? Or an Arabian dance that harkened back to Salome’s sinuous seduction and a Pas De Deux that made me fall in love with the cello with its mournful opening notes that recall far away love.

To speak a word in any language would almost break a magnificently conjured spell.

I knew nothing of The Nutcracker when I took my seat and it was a testament to Balanchine’s mastery of creating poetry with the human form when combined with the transcendent nature of Tchaikovsky's music that the story unfolded magically before my eyes without any prior influence or bias.

Within the city overseen by the previously introduced Angel, It is Christmas Eve in the Stahlbaum house and young Marie and her brother Fritz sleep peacefully outside two grand double doors to await the unveiling of the Christmas tree by their parents who can be seen within a sheer scrim. The family’s guests arrive for their Christmas party and my eyes were over taken by all the vibrant colors of the dresses, a multitude of dancing ribbons and bouncing barrel curls, gallant bows amidst all the dancing revelry and interludes of childhood mischief .

Still, the structure of the dances felt oddly restrained to me. I began to fidget in my seat and my clothes felt itchy against my skin. I was anxious for something I could not name, something to pierce through the stagnation of the “marches.” The children almost performed like trained poodles. The curtsies, the bows; where was the freedom? Where was the spontaneity? Did Marie feel the same?

“Papa…” I whispered, desperately wanting to ask him a question.

My Father caught my hand and held his finger to his lips and shook his head. His look told me to be patient.

The ominous notes of the music and lowered light turned my head and announced the presence of Marie’s Godfather Drosselmeyer and his nephew. Little did I know at that moment in time that I would meet his mirror in my own life years later.

I remember being slightly afraid of him with his cloak, black eye patch and shocking disarray of wild, white hair, but as Marie threw her arms around him in delight, my body relaxed and I enjoyed his eccentric humor, the way he delighted the children with his magic and of course, his gift to her of The Nutcracker which her brother so unkindly managed to break.

As the party ended and Marie and Drosselmeyer’s nephew were each pulled away from each other with arms extended towards the other like two star crossed lovers, I felt just a whisper along my spine, a tingling that drew me up by the top of my head as if connected by an imaginary string.

I watched with a kind of fascinated curiosity as Marie’s Mother came down to close the windows and cover her with her shawl as she slept. The tenderness of the gesture had me questioning why my own Mother was not like this. Children can’t help but compare what they are used to at home with what they experience outside of it. My Mother had never tucked me in before. She had never swept my hair back from my face as a gesture of tenderness, only as a gesture of annoyance if my hair was out of place. Out of the corner of my eye I could feel my Father watching me closely and to this day I wondered if he was reading my mind in regards to my Mother.

The violin solo that followed in the entr'acte (actually composed for The Sleeping Beauty) took my breath away. Drosselmeyer appeared to weave the dream as Marie slept and there was not a sound in the audience as that violin quite literally held each member enthralled till its conclusion. It is to this day one of my favorite violin solos ever performed. The perfect accompaniment to underscore the very foundations of a thrilling dreamscape.

There was something that happened after that violin solo that forever changed my life. Something was different within me. I felt a stirring in my cells that continued on through the appearance of the Shadow Drosselmeyer and the mice that chased Marie.

It started as the Christmas tree began to rise. Already utterly transfixed by the music, I felt a spinning within my very cells as if each had been set into individual rotation amidst the harmonic resonance of the orchestra. My body finely tuned to the exquisite frequency in that simple eleven note scale. I watched the tree climb and as it ascended and I somehow lost the feel of my body. I lost the feel of my clothes, the weight of the chair, the knowledge that I even had a body. I felt as if I was floating upwards and as the strings glided towards that building crescendo, all conscious thought left my mind. I followed the tree upwards as my astral body was pulled over the audience, so close to the chandelier I admired, so close to even leaving the building if I chose to and beyond towards the stars.

With a child’s fascination, I felt I could almost reach out and touch that chandelier, but I was afraid. I was afraid if I touched it I would be punished and fall. Maybe it was the first thought of the fear of falling that broke the spell. Maybe it was the crash of symbols or the sudden, jarring vibration of many hands of varied energy clapping together as the tree reached its climax and the audience erupted into applause.

All of a sudden I was hurdling downwards in a free fall until I crashed back into my body. I hated the sensation, my stomach did back flips and as soon as I felt the weight of the chair beneath me, I leaned forward as if I were going to be sick. My Father instantly put my hand on my back and I sat back disoriented for a moment.

“What happened Josie?” My Father whispered. “Are you alright? Do you want to leave?”

I shook my head adamantly, unable to express what just happened and too afraid that if I spoke of it aloud, it wouldn’t happen again.

Moments later, The Nutcracker emerged victorious from his battle with the Mouse King after Marie had tossed her slipper as a distraction. When she collapsed onto the beautiful white bed covered in lace, it was something out of a fairy tale that remained forever etched into my memory. I’m not sure if it was the glide of the bed or the music, but her journey through the snow on that beautiful, cloud-like bed is something I always return to. From that night on, whenever I wished to leave my body, it was almost a trick I would use. I would see myself on that white bed as it moved through the pine forest and I would listen to “Journey Through the Snow” and it took me out every single time.

When the Nutcracker stepped forward, the spell finally broken, the music swelled and his mask was finally ripped away and he took his first steps into his true self. As the curtain came down on Act I, there was unmistakable feeling that I had just witnessed something divine that had taken place with this beautiful union of artists.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I turned to my Father in awe with my hands trembling, clutching the program to my chest as if it were a piece of the beauty I could try to hold onto. When the words came they were pulled from my heart. “Papa…oh Papa….” I turned in my seat, grasping his hand in mine as an ache bloomed in my chest I had not yet learned to name as longing.

“Josie—What is it?” My Father looked almost alarmed at my reaction as the tears rolled down my face.

“I want to dance. One day I will dance this ballet.”

My Father smiled, relief spreading over his deeply lined face ; too lined for a man of his age. “Of course you will.”



“I understand now. We are here to remember who we really are. We are here to awaken.”
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Josette Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 04 Oct 2013
Posts: 105
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: most likely rehearsing
4621.16 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Thank you to Isaac's writer for the collaboration!)

Once Upon a Savannah Summer...

Summers in the south had a tempo all their own. Whether front porch sitting chasing gossip, downing copious amounts of grandmother’s sweet tea or daring snapping turtles to make good on their name at the local swimming hole, the people and the land moved in lethargic harmony as time passed and seemed to stand still all at the same moment. For Isaac, summers were the best of times since no schooling meant he couldn’t get in trouble for ditching and most importantly he got to see his sister for two weeks around the 4th of July.

“Why’d you have to bring the girl?” Ethan Vance carped for perhaps the fifth time while looking over his shoulder at Josie who seemed to struggle to keep up with the group of older, wild boys.

“Told ya…” Isaac answered with that soft spoken dogwood drawl as he waited for Josie with his hand out to help steer her around a nasty patch of deer thorn. The thorny vine had already taken a bite out of one of the other boys blazing their trail through fallow fields a few miles from town. “Josie wants to play.” He gave her hand a squeeze and kept it in his as they walked. “An she’s my sister.” Added with a tone of finality as if that’s all the explanation anyone needed. Isaac frowned as he watched how much Josie seemed to be struggling more with the walk than she did last summer, but took the role of protector easily and slowed his pace without complaint. It was getting hot out after all. They’d get to where they were going when they got there…summers in the south had their own way of making deadlines and time tables irrelevant.

Isaac and the other boys were venturing out to one of the swimming holes for fun and games. Their trek, like a tribe of Cherokee which used to call these lands home, took them from well-traveled paths to the edge of the Georgian wilderness were massive oak trees cast their thick limbs skyward and spread welcomed shade and a respite from the incessant Dixie summer heat for all and sundry.

“Whatever Isaac. She's weird and she's slowin' us down. Doesn't she even talk? ” Ethan blew an annoyed sound through his lips as he stopped and turned around to look at the others. All in all there were about six boys in the troop, all of them from the same neighborhood with similar backgrounds and families. “All right…here’s the game…loser has to mind the pier.” Ethan said aiming a glare Josie’s way. “Freeze tag, can’t tag your master and you stay put. That means no tag backs. . “Ain’t no goin past the barbed wire fence up by Miller’s farm and the swimin hole on the other side…er’thing else is fair game. "You got it?" Sarcastically thrown at Josie. "Or you need me to say it slower so you can keep up?” Ethan stepped towards Josie as if getting closer would force her to speak.

Josie's fingers brushed unconsciously against her ear, her brows drawing together in a frown as the vibration of Ethan's voice made it ache. Her hand dropped and her chin raised as Ethan stepped closer stepped closer. Those wide eyes looked up, a veritable nebula of colors. Blue-green patina blended with an orbiting ring of copper around the pupil and tiny gilt flecks like scattershot stars. Something in her very spirit gathered force at Ethan's blatant attempt to intimidate her, and her spine straightened. Her fragile frame hardly an imposing sight to the older boy, but there was a certain gravitas in the weight of her gaze that refused to look away first, or take a step back as he advanced on her.

The other boys looked around at one another, Ethan being their defacto leader since he’d been held behind in school twice now and was consequently two years older than the rest. Isaac stood alongside Josie and even half stepped in front of her after he saw the way Ethan was looking at her. He’d seen the look before in Ethan’s eyes when he’d cornered one of the younger kids in the cafeteria for money or homework. He’d heard his mother talking about the Vance family, how they didn’t belong in the neighborhood and how Mrs. Vance hadn’t even gone to Cotillion when she was younger, but none of that mattered to Isaac in the moment. All he knew was that he didn’t like the way Ethan was looking at his sister.

"The large oak is home base and no babysitting." Isaac added as he advanced on Ethan to force him to give Josie more breathing room. He knew Josie would not be able to outrun the others. It seemed Ethan was dead set on making Josie the odd one out today in his russian roulette of bullying tactics.

“Nah, that's your job Isaac. I ain't goin' easy on her either cause she's a girl. If she can't keep up, she's out. No cryin'. I’ll be IT first…you got 50 Mississippis ta hide. Ain’t gonna matter though.” Ethan considered himself the freeze tag king of Savannah. “One Mississippi…Two Mississippi…”

As soon as Ethan started counting the boys scattered like cotton chaff on the wind. The routine was always the same as the young boys played a game of ostracism in a constant battle for dominance. Isaac gave Josie a reassuring wink of thunderstorm gray before they were off, legs pumping like pistons to carry feet up and over the tall grass.

Isaac pulled Josie clear of the grass and over to a huge oak tree with a massive trunk and gnarled branches that seemed to stretch for miles. “Don’a worry.” Isaac said while looking back over towards were Ethan was counting. “He ain’t gonna get close ta ya. Hide right here behind this oak. The tree is where you’re safe, okay?” He took her hand that he’d been holding and reached it up to touch the rough bark. Isaac gave his sister a reassuring smile before releasing her hand to pick up a few small rocks.

“Hey Ethan…” He called out and whizzed one of the rocks back across the field right past the older boy's ear, purposely missing, but the intensity in his gaze when Ethan whirled around indicated that he didn't miss due to poor aim. “Heard you did so bad in Mrs. Templeton’s class that she threatened to put you back two grades just in case.” Another rock whizzed by Ethan, as close as the last, as Isaac displayed an early talent which would serve him well in later years.

“Screw you Wheeler! I’m gonna pummel you till you spit blood!” Ethan hollered back and tried his best to dodge the rocks and chase Isaac down.

But Isaac was off and moving through the woods, purposefully leading Ethan away from the big oak and away from Josie. Isaac stayed just far enough ahead to keep Ethan thinking he could catch him but in reality Isaac could move through the woods as quiet as a deer and as fast as jack rabbit. Ethan had no chance…which meant Josie did and that’s all that mattered to Isaac.

Josie watched the two boys run off and then turned to look up in awe at the large oak. "The tree is where you're safe." Josie giving voice to her first words of the day, as she liked the way they sounded when Isaac said them. She smoothed delicate fingers over its rough bark with a certain reverence, placing her palm flat against it and felt the history that stretched down to its roots, the soil and beyond. Every change of season, every shelter and shade for human, bird and beast, every stolen kiss, every bittersweet parting of acorn and leaf, every careless cut of blade in its bark in a vain attempt to prove a love that would not last a season.

Her tremors started slowly, like a slow gathering storm and then became more violent, clashes of thunder and flashes of lightening fired off behind the curtain of her lashes as the images whipped by faster and faster. Tangled limbs in a heated embrace, endless yellow ribbons fluttering like tiny messengers of hope and a neck that snapped like a branch from the dangle of a coiled rope. Josie was shaking from the last image, removing her hand as if it burned like the image upon her memory.

She wept for the tree, for all it had seen and endured, hot tears running down her cheeks as she murmured apologies over and over. Returning her hand to the bark as if she could remove the atrocious offenses with her words and touch alone. But she also felt a strength there, a strength that she would carry with her in the years to come in moments when she had endured all pain she thought she could handle in her small frame. The energy that radiated from the oak's roots to its leaves, a blending of earth and sky poured into her, returning the love it felt from her touch a thousand times over in a language too old to carry a name.

It told her she was safe.
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