Layered in sweaters over my leotard, I head towards the dance studio. The San Francisco morning bites my nose as I walk through the heart of Tenderloin. Sidewalks clutter with trash and human waste. Sleeping people bundle against buildings. Tenderloin is isolated from outsiders… perhaps the majority of San Francisco’s homeless reside here. Their afternoons will be spent rummaging through trash, trying to find food or empty bottles to exchange for money. The morning fog hanging over the city reflects the quiet mood of the neighborhood.
At night, Jones Street will awaken from its disquiet slumber– drug exchanges at every corner, men yelling on the sidewalk. The screech of sirens makes the ballad of the ballet piano ever more eloquent.
I arrive early to claim my territory– the barre spot next to the famous Lines window. The polished mirrors and smooth marley of the studio contrast the decomposing streets. Golden sunlight seeps through window panes. I like how the warmth envelopes my arms during port de bras. Perhaps today I will try dancing with the viscosity of the Tenderloin fog or the brassiness of police sirens. As students trickle into the room, I smile and reach for my pointe shoes.