The girl in the mirror has a small round face, black pants, blue top, and her hair is tied back.
That little detail makes all the difference. Pulling the hair back can completely alter a person. It has certainly altered the girl watching me from across the studio.
Aside from the teacher, she is the only one in the room. Her height -- or lack of it -- no longer matters. It's not even visible. The dull pain in her leg from a strained muscle is a distant thought.
She is dancing.
And she moves with confidence and dare I say it? a touch of joy as well.
This is a different girl than the one in ballet class, the shy girl who struggles with jumps and whose hips are consistently uneven due to slightly crooked bone structure. This girl has shining eyes and an easy smile. She learns quickly, something she has yet to master in softer shoes.
For once she is dancing with her whole body, not just the feet moving with breathtaking technique but devoid of emotion. Her shoulders, her head, her arms -- they all join the feet as they find and follow the beat.
The girl in the mirror tonight has a touch of daring. Not flirtatious daring... daring just to relax. To smile, to allow herself to have fun. To let her whole self feel the rhythm, not just her feet.
The girl in the mirror is dancing joyfully. And possibly for the first time, she is willing to allow it to peek out through a crack in her hardened exterior.