I love to teach ballet and write instructional books but I also love to write fiction. How did the two collide?
Growing up in New Orleans was a special experience, both sensual and tactile. The smell of roasting coffee. Oyster shells. Camellias and magnolia blossoms. The touch of mimosa, wrought iron fences, and mosquitoes.
I spent an inordinate amount of time in my young life in ballet class and on the New Orleans Public Service Bus going to and from ballet class. A minimum of two buses with a transfer and on Saturday and Sunday, I’d take the scenic route with the streetcar ( trolley) thrown in the mix.
What did I do to pass the time?
Look outside, of course!!
You can’t imagine all the stuff you can observe from the window of a Nopsi bus! The original Chris’s Steak House without Ruth before the name. Showrooms of Mardi Gras beads. People parking on the roof of the Schwegmann’s on Broad Street.
People walking, waiting, kissing, fighting, drinking, even sleeping on the sidewalks. Life was in full view while riding down Broad Street, Broadway, St. Charles, and thru the French Quarter.
Then the bus would get past Franklin and go over the Danzinger Bridge. On Chef Menteur (Hwy 90) – the road Jayne Mansfield died on, the way out of town. I lived off the Chef in East Gentilly which was the equivalent of East Jesus.
Past that point, I would read…
Anything I could get my hands on. The Classics – Jane Eyre, David Copperfield. The Contemporaries – Brave New World, 1984, The Monkey’s Paw, Frankenstein… Archie’s comics if need be!
I would read as if my life depended on it because that part of the journey, on the way to class and on the way home, was scary… In the dark. With fog rising from the undeveloped swamp on the right side of the highway.
In between, I would dance class with Lelia Haller. Two hours straight with no break and no airconditioning. Sometimes more if I had rehearsal… In fact, the bus didn’t have air conditioning either. Not for a long time.
So, ballet and bus rides are a complete tangle to me, totally related in a big jumble, because one was necessary to do the other. Ballet was a lesson in tradition, discipline and the bus rides were a walk on the wild side. Both exist. Co-exist I should say, that’s not a particularly bad lesson for an author to learn…