Published in Ignatian Literary Magazine, Vol. 32, Spring 2020


When I was four, my Chinese mother had high hopes for me to become a ballerina; her inspiration at the time had been the Rockettes. Eventually this would be one of many letdowns. For many girls, ballet was a rite of passage, a chapter marked by pink tights and fluffy tutus. It turned out different for me. Over years, I came to learn how ballet dancers on stage were part of a spectacular illusion, floating on the air as light as a feather, wearing smiles so fiercely burned into their cheek muscles. Peel back the satin pink shoes, and you would find the secret behind a dancer’s perfect balance en pointe, wrapped beneath bloody bandages.

In the pursuit of beauty, there lies the required art of pain.

Those early years were innocent, but the most impressionable. As young girls, we were taught to believe in the idea of transformation, every day we stepped onto the floor. How easy it became to bend over backwards, twist your torso, extend your arms and legs while you’re young.

Read the full story here (digital edition – see page 58)