Renée K. Nicholson lives in Morgantown, WV, splitting her artistic pursuits between writing and dance. A former professional dancer whose career was cut short by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, Renee earned teaching certification from American Ballet Theatre and an MFA in Creative Writing at West Virginia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Chelsea, Mid-American Review, Perigee: A Journal of the Arts, Paste, Moon City Review, Cleaver Magazine, Poets & Writers, Dossier, Linden Avenue, Switchback, The Superstition Review, The Gettysburg Review and elsewhere. She serves as Assistant to the Director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop, and was the 2011 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State-Altoona. She is a member of the book review staff at Los Angeles Review, is co-host of the literary podcast SummerBooks, and co-founder of Souvenir: A Journal. Her website is www.reneenicholson.com.
Your partner knows your body better than any of your lovers. He knows your means and hows, your hollows and crevices, how your weight is distributed through bust and hips and thighs. He doesn’t make fun of your large potato head or your stick-y-out ears. When you dance together, his sweat and your sweat mix, no way to tell who has perspired what.
You both sweat all through rehearsals.
He admires your strong, flexible feet and your strong, flexible back. You learn to trust that extra rotation, the flying leap that’s caught in air. Most of the time, you trust your partner more than you trust yourself.
The art of partnering is a lot like love, the coming together of two beings, two bodies. These bodies, yours and your partner’s, are honed with technique and purpose and work. You condition it with daily class, daily rehearsals, daily regimens, a daily diet, your daily bottle upon bottle of water. Your partner takes the same classes, attends the same rehearsals, but carries out his own rituals and regimens. You respect that about one another. You respect what is physical, and you use it to reveal what is sublime. He will hold your waist, circle your wrists with his hands. He will cradle your body, grip your thighs. It isn’t sexual, but it can be sexy. The thrill is in creating something beautiful, as if beauty were something you do, not something you are.
In the low light of an expiring day, you will remember this, think of your partner more fondly than your past lovers. You will wonder where he went after you left the stage, what new and lovely creatures he supported and lifted and spun. You will not be jealous; rather, you will wish you could have seen these performances, your body humming with past knowledge. The sun will sink. It will rise again in pink streaks across a slate of indifferent sky.