The Healing Horse, Ch. 36, Scene 4: Meeting the dancers

Image of red curtain drawn across a stage

Just as Gilberto in the story (Al Gilbert in real life) believes in young Karen and encourages her to dance, so the lead dancers of the Bolshoi tell her to never give up. She can dance and teach dancing!

(Image by tommybuddy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 4: Meeting the Dancers

Karen followed Mama and Gilberto as the curtain dropped into place behind them. She inhaled the warm, sweet scent of the wooden stage sets in the dimly lit space behind the drapes. She felt even more empowered. I will accomplish my goal. I will pass on Gilberto’s legacy by teaching other disabled people and by showing them they, too, can accomplish their own dreams. Also that moving and stretching their bodies can be fun.

The wood in the stage sets and floors made her feel as strong as an oak tree firmly grounded. Mama’s eyebrows went up. She looked as surprised as Karen felt. But Gilberto grinned like the Cheshire cat. He was up to something.

After a moment, Wiessea and Blancka, the lead dancers, emerged from one wing, the fabric of Blancka’s tutu glimmering in the dim light. They smiled through thick stage makeup, and Karen stared up at them, her inspiration. Their warm smiles lighted up her heart.

Wiessea laid his powerful hands on Karen’s shoulders and kissed her on both cheeks. “Gilberto is famous, even in Russia. Did you know that? He is a master teacher, a person we respect. He says you can dance. Show us your ballet, darling. Show us what you have learned.”

Karen’s heart swelled even more. Gilberto believed in her with all his heart. He looked at her, smiled, and nodded with encouragement and acceptance.

She took a deep breath and composed herself. Focusing on the technique, she showed them her ballet plies. Beginning with the first position. Remembering in her mind what Gilberto taught her. “Bend your knee, keep your back straight, and your heels together,” she whispered to herself. Kitten even showed them a grand plié. Perfect, she told herself.

Blancka stepped forward and gave Karen an enormous hug and kiss on the cheeks. “You did that beautifully, darling. Show everyone your light. Think of us, always dancing by your side. Keep up the great work. “

Wiessea could not believe his eyes. He saw that a disabled little girl had learned ballet and changed her once twisted body. “Gilberto was right,” he said. “Keep doing what you love and you will continue to transform the use of your limbs and condition. You will teach dance. And teach others what it means to dance with everything you have.”

Blancka stepped back and stood next to Wiessea. “Remember, practice every day, like us, sweetheart.” They looked at each other resolutely. They knew Karen would do wonderful things with her body and life.

Karen nodded. “I will. I promise. Every moment I have.”

The dancers beamed and embraced her again. “Never give up.”

They bowed and ran back into the wing. Karen knew she would always remember this moment. It had changed her life.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

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