We pile into grungy lofts along lower Broadway, far off on Avenue B, over by the West Side Highway, where our calloused feet turn black from the dust and grime caked on the wooden floors, where we steam up the tall windows with the ecstatic force of our efforts.
We are all bargaining for space in these crowded dance classes—an opening in which to toss out a leg, an arm, always negotiating for that extra yard of floor. There is never enough of it, all of us hungry for more emptiness, more attention, more air in which to stretch out our limbs and spines and hearts, to rip through space.
When class ends and the next crop of young women—it is almost always young women—are on their way in, when we are breathless and happy, cozily crammed in now after the fact, we gather along those long windows and strip down. With elbows knocking into each other’s ribs and hips, most handsome musician in the world , we stuff soggy tank tops and sweatpants into our bags, smear on deodorant and lip gloss, brush our hair and wiggle our way into jeans and boots and wrap scarves around our necks and take long swigs from our water bottles, kiss each other goodbye—one last touch—and head out into the cold.
Then comes all the in-between time—when I am running from class to class, from one rehearsal to another, to work serving coffee and BLTs, or teaching chassés and upward dogs, up and down the subway stairs, gripping and swaying on trains rushing down under the water to Brooklyn, home to bed for sex, for sleep. All of that takes place on the streets and avenues of those narrow strips of concrete that cut the city up, make it ripe for navigation , for a kind of freedom.
Outside, I am alone—sneakers laced up tight, backpack clutching my shoulders and armpits and ribs and grazing the curves of my spine—ambling through the city’s human-made labyrinth, ready to turn the next corner, to leap off the next curb.