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by Cadence Heidenreich

December 2022


school. dance. sleep.
A cycle full of routine and joy
From stretching in a half-lit studio
To plies to adagio to allegro
To homework in the dressing room
My cycle, my routine
Remained uninterrupted.
My unfaltering continuation
Brought growth, improvement, strength to my art
The future of my career morphed
From a translucent hope to a tangible plan
An acceptance to a training program
The lead in Shostakovich Suite
A variation to be performed
All products of my routine
A routine that would no longer stay uninterrupted

First schools announced the weekend off
Which turned into weeks
Into undetermined
Into see you next year
Quickly dance followed
It didn’t matter we were weeks away from performing
Variations we’d worked on for months
Nothing mattered anymore
Except stopping everything
No amount of passion or determination or hard work
Could make a virus evaporate
Months passed and my concern for safety
Shifted to frustration and then to anger
Stay home became the new mantra
A mantra that took priority above all else
Above reason, passion, hope
Quarantines were required, recommended, released, reinstated
As waves of illness and press waxed and waned
Until this cycle of uncertainty became our new routine
As opportunity slipped through my grasp
My almost tangible future drifted
further and further from my reach

I pretend the disease is over
Once school, dance, sleep resumes
Like the routine was simply stuck on pause
But it’s impossible to pretend
When your surroundings are a constant reminder
Because it’s hard to fly across the studio
When your breath is trapped behind cloth
And your routine
Is built around interruptions
Striving for improvement, strength, stability
Feels like climbing uphill
Only when your reach the top
Your footing fumbles and you tumble
back to where you began,
Or often lower.
Two weeks at home
Shows canceled
Masks off then back on
Virtual: date of return
To be determined
Interruption becomes routine

They say to adapt
But adapting means changing
Means giving up
On how things used to be
Before we were cut off mid sentence
Because that’s how time is measured now—
Before Covid
And after Covid
But what is the after
If it never truly ended?
The effects still wash over us
Like ripples never quite flattened
But we move forward
Because life can no longer be stuck on pause.
And after years I step onto stage
The nerves that made my legs shake
From behind the folds of the wings
Dissipate as the lights waltz upon me
Although it is hidden from the audience
Behind my mask
I smile

Right Now
I was hesitant to write
About the interruption
I didn’t think I had anything to say
But as I wrote this poem
I wished I had chosen an essay
Because my tumbling words seemed to spin
For longer than a poem would allow
But the half sentences that
Form my progression of thought
Do not matter in quantity
But rather that you feel
The impact of the interruption.

A Charleston native, Cadence began dancing at the Palmetto City Ballet School when she was 6 years old. Under the guidance of directors, Jonathan Tabbert and Stephen Gabriel, she worked her way up performing in countless productions both with the school and alongside the professional artists of the Palmetto City Ballet Company.  As a student, Cadence attended PCB’s pre-professional daytime training program and spent her junior year at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities in Greenville, SC, where she performed roles such as the Pas de Trois from La Ventana and the principle role in Flower Festival. She has attended summer intensives at Orlando Ballet, USC Summer Dance Conservatory, and Sarasota Ballet.  She is now dancing as a trainee with Palmetto City Ballet.