Corps de Ballet

by A.B. Jackson

Mariinsky Theatre, 1923

Backstage, it’s all
talk and shoe ribbon,
snowflake pom-poms.

We build up heat:
demi-plié, port de bras,
degrees of hunger.

Nijinsky is mad,
they say; he declares
God is fire in the head.

Music squalls, the rich
curtain rises: we troop on,
veer and surge.

Preliminaries over,
the charismatic leads
invade our ranks,

the hard
labour of dance.