The Rite of Spring

by by Robert Sandler


I went to see the turned-in feet of Le Sacre moving still, under the curtain. Pagan Russia still moving Nijinsky’s flatness.

All the ballet made my friend vomit. I felt bad too, viscerally, on the shaped chairs, but I am not vomiting. I felt fine, good even. I felt as though I was looking at a painting while in the middle of a play, on stage, on a stone floor, with wool cinching at the shoulders of my fellow actors’ costumes.

Things are caught in muscle and skin. A scar. Tying a knot. The dancers had to loosen themselves, fill a space in their bodies for this history and enact this. I think that their rigidness was bound by this history. Their flatness was about representation, they moved between themselves.

It is very cold outside, but soon I will be able to say, “I am drinking beer in my apartment. I just made peas—they are sweet. Settle, or whatever you need to do, and then call me. Please.” This is because the weather should be changing soon.

When I got home from the ballet, I turned on the heat. Serena’s socks on top of the gray gas square caught on fire. I waved a towel and the fan started to rotate. Then I put the charred socks in her room and lay in my bed.

One of the men had very large thighs, we saw them, because he danced a lead role in the performances leading up to Le Sacre. Unable to sleep, I masturbated with thoughts of his legs.

Dancers are versed in a particular grammar and lexicon. They speak a language. Nijinsky gave his dancers a shallow language; they had to try and talk about life and death with their big toes turned towards one another. Their elbows are raised to their shoulders. When the sacrificed girl jumps, her knees point to the left, the legs do not come out from underneath her body.

The performance was an attempt at reconstructing the original choreography. It was discarded after the first performances; the original choreography remained untouched. The Joffrey ballet revived it in the 1987. Watching the ballet, you are watching 100 years forward trying to move 100 years back.

Can you see who moves like that?

Maybe my vomiting friend was filled with the Paris of 1913, and all the hissing was expelled from her.

My vomiting friend was a dancer. Maybe the hissing ghosts were expelled from her.

If you tie a knot, and you have before, a little ghost comes and crawls into your fingers.

An untrained body is making ghosts, fumbling towards a knot or a scar. A part of the body that remembers.

This is the picture from the photo booth at the theatre. Everyone is blurry except for my friend who was sick afterwards. So maybe we were ghosts too, in the moment, except for my friend, who was bound to the history we set about imbibing: the girl dancing herself to death, towards ghosts.

When I dance, I think about untrained bodies. I value them because this is the body that I have—it is awkward. I like the way that it is gangly. When I dance I try to find every beat with every part of my body.

The dancers in Le Sacre are often on seperate parts of the stage, in different circles. They follow different beats. Because of this, you can’t rehearse with one person yelling numbers. Each group follows their own bit of order.

The dancers in Le Sacre are asked to forget about their elongated limbs, about the elegance they have worked towards.

When I have performed in front of others, I have closed my eyes. Once, I ran into a wall with a deer spine wrapped around my arm.

When we were walking through Providence after Le Sacre the wind tried to bury itself in us. When I got home there was a skunk eating the food my landlord leaves out for the neighborhood cats. It looked at me.

Everyone is throwing up. If this is true, then maybe everyone is filled with ghosts, or maybe it wasn’t the ballet. Please stay hydrated. My friend is drinking Gatorade, maybe you could drink that too, ghosts or not.