Disclaimer: I own nothing that belongs to Center Stage.

Author's note: The first time I saw Center Stage I was captivated. It is a wonderful movie that portrays a dancer's life well. Many other movies (e.g. Save the Last Dance) failed to do this. After all, when thousands of dancers strive for years to be the best, only one will be chosen to be Gissell (Gissell is the lead part in a major ballet. What I mean is that, only one person out of thousands will have the best part, unlike other sports where you have many stars.)

"Ballerinas dance for their whole lives seeking only one thing: Perfection. But in all these long years, they know that they will never have it." My teacher once told me. I was 13 years old and was in my 7th year of dance, and third year of pointe. 'Naturally, those words have stuck with me to this day' I thought as I slowly walked in the dance room. It was 6 o'clock, and it was still dark out. Other weary dancers came in behind me, yawning excessively. Choosing my usual spot at the middle barre, I dropped by bags and sat down, groaning from my aching leg muscles. The Grande battemet the day before had done horrors to my muscles, but I liked the feel of it. I loved going to bed at night feeling like I had danced. Danced something that left its mark.

Taking out my hair box, where I kept bobby pins, scrunchies, etc., I yawned once more. After finding a brush and a hair elastic I put my hair up in a neat bun, then looked at myself in the mirror. It would not do for a ballerina to have loose hair strands. After putting away my hair box, I kicked off my flip flops and stood up. I began to warm up a little, still in my warm up clothes: black shorts, leg warmers, and a tight black sweater over my black leotard and pink convertible tights. My bare feet were covered in tape and band aids. Small cuts and blisters seemed to appear everywhere. After stretching my legs and arms I sat back down, and rummaged through my Blocke bag for my pointe shoes. Upon pulling them out, I realized that the ribbon attached to them was unraveling. 'Not good' I though, biting my lip.

"Hey, Chris, do you have your lighter?!" I shouted across the room at Chris, a male dancer who had been with the company for 2 years. Yawning slightly, he nodded yes and threw me a lighter out of his pocket. I usually discouraged his smoking, since it hardly helped you dance better, but I was glad that he had his lighter today. Flicking the flame on, I brought it close to my ribbon and started to burn away the fibers that made it unravel. When I was done, I threw it back at Chris, who was hit in the head with it. Chris rubbed his head and muttered how I never did have good aim as he put away his lighter, but was smiling none the less.

After padding my feet and putting on my shoes, I stood up and began to work my feet in them. They were old and beginning to lose their original pink color. They were Chacotte Coppelia's, the only kind I ever got, and were very comfortable due to their age. Most dancers favor their old pointe shoes more highly than new ones. 'It's a pain in my ass to have to break in new ones.' I thought and smiled slightly.

As I looked around the room, I noticed the sun had begun to come out, and all the tired, yawning people had disappeared. They were replaced by people who had a flame of passion in their eyes. You could see it flicker and grow brighter as the touched the barre and ran their fingers over it. Every dancer first began dancing on the barre. Its is our native land, and mother. When your pirrorettes just couldn't make a triple, or your glissades stopped gliding, you could always come to the barre. It was always there. I smiled then, for the pure pleasure of it. No one but a dancer knew that pleasure, that thrill you get as you flow through the music and let yourself drown in it.

"Hey NYCB." Serge said as he drew nearer. He was smiling, despite the black circles under his eyes and bruises all over him from dance. I smiled, then, at the mention of my nickname. I studied at the New York City Ballet originally, but came here as a guest dancer to study for a couple months.

"Stupid, friggin' shoes!" I heard Eva yell from behind me. She dropped her bags and began to fiddle with her pointe shoes, which seem to have been falling apart.

"Eva, we all love our oldest pointe shoes, but once they begin to fall apart, you'll come to find that it's easier to break in new ones than it is to break in Jonathon." I laughed slightly, and the others nearby joined in. Everyone knew that Jonathon got upset if our dance attire wasn't in fairly good shape.

"Eva, you're wearing a Navy Blue leotard. Jonathon's going to be pissed." Jodie said as she walked up, yawning a little. Until Cooper got his studio completed, Jodie decided to take classes here to stay in shape.

"Yeah, I know, but come on, it's dark enough." She reasoned as she continued to fix her shoes with a needle and thread.

"Black leotard, pink tights." Ana said a little arrogantly as she joined in. Ever since she got a solo in Jonathon's ballet last year, she acted like she was the queen of dance. 'Snotty little bitch.' I thought to myself than began to smile. Eric noticed my smile and raised an eyebrow at me. I pretended to have a fit of coughing. As Ana sat down to put on her shoes, Eva gave her the finger, which immediately cracked us all up. Apparently getting the same idea as Ana looked at us, we all started have 'coughing fits.'

Standing up, Ana brushed some dust off of her dance skirt, and said, "Have you seen the new dancer from San Francisco. Who the hell taught her? Her turn out is horrible, especially in her foites." Ana continued to speak for several more minutes, regardless of our excessive yawns and eye rolling.

Thinking back to my thoughts of ballet perfection, I thought of a quote I once read: "Ballet's image of perfection is fashioned among a milieu of wracked bodies, Balkan Intrigue, and sulfurous hatreds where anything is likely and dancers know it."

'Too true' I thought and began to chuckle. Post Script: Having been dancing for 9 years, I've come to learn something about ballet that can't be learned anywhere else. I can not describe it. Rather, I shall write about it.