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Dance of the Abakweta


Imagine what Mrs. Haessler would say

If she could see the Watusi youth dance

Their well-versed initiation. At first glance

As they bend to an invisible barre

You would know that she had designed their costumes.


For though they were made of pale beige bamboo straw

Their lines were the classic tutu. Nothing varied.

Each was cut short at the thigh and carried

High to a degree of right angles. Nor was there a flaw

In their leotards. Made of leopard skin or the hide


Of a goat, or the Gauguin-colored Okapi’s striped coat

They were cut in her reverenced ‘tradition.’

She would have approved their costumes and positions.

And since neither Iceland nor Africa is too remote

For her vision she would have wanted to form


A ‘traditional’ ballet. Swan Lake, Scheherazade or

(After seeing their incredible leaps)

Les Orientales. Imagine the exotic sweep

Of such a ballet and from the way the music pours

Over these dancers (this tinkling of bells, talking

Of drums, and twanging of tan, sandalwood harps)

From this incomparable music, Mrs. Haessler of Vassar can

Glimpse strains of Tchaikovsky, Chopin

To accompany her undeviatingly sharp

‘Traditional’ ballet. I am certain that if she could

Tutor these potential protégés, as

Quick as Aladdin rubbing his lamp, she would.





Margaret Danner

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012