Ballet Jess.jpg

I once waited for hours for my mom to pick me up at ballet class. But, I didn't mind because I was watching a rehearsal of the Sarasota Ballet Company.  It was the year when my Ballet school, Florida Ballet Arts school and the professional ballet company, Sarasota Ballet Company moved to the big empty downtown mall called the Main Street Mall.

The Mall never really 'happened' and still today is mostly empty save the movie theater.  When it had just been constructed and ready for stores to move in that never came, there was a new smell to it; a fresh paint and poured concrete smell.  There was also an eerie and lonely quality, but I never felt lonely because I had Ballet class there and I loved Ballet more than anything else.  There I was dancing Ballet under the highest ceilings I'll probably ever dance under again.

The ballet floor made of sprung wood an Marley looked tiny in the big open Mall. On the other side of the Mall,  the Sarasota Ballet Company rehearsal under the artistic direction of Eddie Toussant. Alexi was the Russian ballet star of SB and he taught our class some nights. I had a crush on him. I can smell new tights and poured concrete right now just writing about Alexi.  He was lean, tall and muscular and always smiled at me in class. After class I watched him and his girlfriend dance and imagine I was her.  I would imagine how I would be with him, very graceful and generous with my movements like she was (but, I thought probably even more than her if I had the chance.)

I loved sharing space with the Sarasota Ballet Company. It made me feel professional and gave me things to dream about.  The high ceilings and light pouring in from the upstairs made me happy. So did an empty Mall, my favorite ballet dancers, and the smell of new point shoes.

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