by Neesa Suncheuri


Pink foot after pink foot,
Hours in front of the mirror.
I see my shape at the barre,
My reflection teaches me
To improve here, there…
I want to be the best.

Yet I am bound to the
Other girls as we learn
Together, the art of Ballet.
We express its beauty,
Along with its
Muscular aches and pains.

The singular handsome,
Sterling boy watches
From the side, now waiting…


And there!  He goes.
Broad-armed and flat-footed.
He becomes a spinning nucleus,
Surrounded by us charged tutus.

Every day,
I ply my feet
En pointe.
But no matter,
Because I feel like I am flying.
I hope one day
I win
A title role,
And be the girl
Whom the handsome boy
Would hoist up…
High and above…
I would twirl…
Light as a feather…
Appearing to fly…

But I fear I would land
Crookedly thereafter in performance,
Even if I was given the chance.
I would be mortified.
But yet…I dream.

This is my world.
Artful in every way.
And I am addicted.
I am made of Dance.


After rehearsals I go to my dormitory,
With roommates
Lyudmila and Lana.
My room is small, but
At least it’s my own.
My parents pay higher tuition.
For dinner, I eat a whole
Yogurt container.
I’ve got ten for the week,
A bit of fruit as well.
I sit nimbly cross-legged on the floor,
As a small antennae-d radio plays
Top 40.  So wrong!
We fantasize about celebrities,
Being our boyfriends,
Yet we are classical girls.
We are separated,
From everything modern.

Every morning,
Before breakfast,
I stretch.
Then I prepare a
New pair of
Glorious Shoes,
Stitch by stitch.
The satin shines
So bright,

But by evening, they are
Worn out,
And thrown in the trash.

This is my world.
Artful in every way.
And I am addicted.
I am made of Dance.


The trees start to shiver.
The skies turn into night earlier
Every evening.
December and
Tchaikovsky approach.
And Top 40 now gives way to
a CD of The Nutcracker.

I dream of dancing
The night-gowned steps of Clara.
I am in my final year at the
And I have a
Chance now.
I’ve dreamed my
Whole life of
Dancing her dance.
My roommates and
I, we laugh,
We joke.
Yet envy electrifies
The air we share.

At night in my room,
As I fall asleep alone,
My body is cold,
And my tummy is wrong.
I have some water to fall asleep,
And I dream of rats
Pecking out my eyes
Underneath a Christmas tree.

This is my world.
Artful in every way.
And I am addicted.
I am made of Dance.


Glasha Misalova, the esteemed,
Tells me to tuck in my gut,
It is fat,
My rump, it is round,
My knees, they poke out.
I’m undisciplined,
And a disgrace to ballet.
Then she smiles at Lyudmila,
And makes no comment at the others.
In the mirror, I see.
When I leap,
I land heavy.
And my face,
it is scrunched.
I cannot smile with ease.
My stature is stout,
My bones are not long.
Sometimes I think I’m fine,
But my heart cries out,
And I know that I’m wrong.
Everything about me is wrong.

I weigh myself at the end of the day,
And I’ve lost two pounds!
So I have a
Bit of Candy.
But when I go to sleep,
I dream of dancing
With the lightest step,
But then I float, and
And I never land on the ground again.
And as I die in outer space,
I weep…
There is no happy ending
For me.
There is no chance for
Me to
Step out in front of
The others
To receive my own wave of
Applause, right before

The curtain falls…

When I awake, I am glad.
Even in real life, I could
Never fail so terribly
That I would die.

This is my world.
Artful in every way.
And I am addicted.
I am made of Dance.


To dance as Clara was…
Never my fate.
Instead.  It belonged to
My jealousy stings, every time
I see her.
In the ballet studio,
I must watch her
And then at dinner,
We must all be friends.
And then I go to my room,
And she is on the floor
Stretching her tired limbs.

But I am tired too.
I am still here too.







My life is ordinary.
This is no tragedy.
There is no ribbon to
Neatly tie up all my
Regrets and
I must be flexible to survive.
I must stretch for the highest goals.
I must strengthen my resolve,
And choreograph all the
Plans of my life.

For this is my world.
Artful in every way.
And I am addicted.
I am made of Dance.


Neesa Suncheuri
Staff Writer – Poetry

Neesa Suncheuri works as a mental health peer specialist at a housing agency in Queens, New York.  She is the founder of a Facebook discussion group for peer specialists and other recovery enthusiasts, entitled “What is Wellness?  A Mental Health Discussion Group.”  Much of her creative inspiration is rooted in her now-tamed schizophrenia.  She writes poetry and fiction, and maintains a blog called Unlearning Schizophrenia.  She is also a singer/songwriter, and an enthusiast for the German language and culture.  Follow her on Twitter at @neesasuncheuri.

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