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Ballroom Dance School
Alarie Tennille

We all learn to leave
athletic shoes at home,
to move counterclockwise
around the floor, and not
to watch our feet. Eventually,
we know whether a song
invites a foxtrot or rumba
without being told. We stop
counting. Our hips undulate.
We slink like housecats.
But you can always tell
who has studied ballet.
It’s in the hands. The rest
of us stay grounded, unable
to use our wings or take our
eyes off theirs.

This poem first appeared in I-70 Review.
Used here with the author’s pemission.


Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. A Phi Beta Kappa, she graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class that admitted women. She met her husband, graphic artist Chris Purcell, in college and they now live in Kansas City, Missouri, where Alarie serves on the emeritus board of The Writers Place.  Alarie’s poems have appeared in numerous journals and she believes her writing skills were born from her parents’ knack for storytelling–long, meandering tales she asked to hear again and again.  “There was usually dance music in the back-ground,” she says, “the sounds of cicadas, and the clink of ice in glasses of sweet tea.  Weekends brought rolling surf and laughing gulls, and the calliopes of amusement park rides.”  Learn more about Alarie at

Post New Comment:
barbara eknoian:
Dance poems are my favorite! Nice!
Posted 07/03/2013 03:40 PM
A lover of ballet, apparently. A really good poem.
Posted 07/02/2013 02:05 PM
I never got my eyes off my feet or stopped counting, and I certainly never undulated, or slinked (slank? slunk?) like a cat!
Posted 07/01/2013 12:20 PM
Love this!
Posted 07/01/2013 09:09 AM
But you can always tell who has studied ballet. It’s in the hands. The perfect heart of a poem, the emotional turn.
Posted 07/01/2013 08:42 AM

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