The Dance Arrives at Stevenson High School
by Virginia Chase Sutton

My feet flash across the stage. I am twenty-one
and I love the tap-tap-tap-tap as in my head I
automatically repeat shuffle-ball-change,

shuffle-ball-change. I am dressed like a Vegas
showgirl–a sequined and feathered headdress
pinned into my upswept brown hair. My right hand

brushes the right shoulder of the woman ahead of me
as we dance. And our costume is spectacular!
A one-piece bathing-suit style, shimmering white

fabric layered in shivering black sequins, the
bosom encrusted with crystals. The entire back
is black with bands of sparkle. O, how I shine.

In full-dress make-up, my rouged lips and cheeks
are o-so-kissable. And my eyes with jeweled lashes
are visible even to the last row of the auditorium.

On my feet, classic black patent leather tap shoes
tied up with black ribbon. Underneath are silver
taps making the impossible possible. We slowly

move from stage left to stage right in a straight
line, three women ahead of me and seventeen
behind. The row heads behind heavy red velvet

curtains, music blaring, taps amplified. So practiced
are we that it is just a moment before we turn in unison,
head back out. Then we pause, tap-tap our way towards

the audience. We are doing the Rockettes proud. As one,
we bow, link arms and do high kicks as our big finish,
legs bending, thrust out, bending, repeating our way

into near breathlessness. We gleam, we are glory.
Unflappable we turn and leave the way we arrive,
the woman behind me skimming my translucent skin. Our

costumes are bright bites of breathtaking dazzle as we dissolve
into the wings. Curtains swish shut and applause roars. Opening
again, we each gracefully hold a sheaf of multi-colored roses.

We bow right, left, center. The crowd whistles, jumps to
their feet. I am collecting admirers, I know it, in this deluge
of sweetness, sparking rhinestones, the heat of heavy tap shoes.

PHOTO: Opening night of the Casino de Paris show at the Dunes, Las Vegas (1963).


Virginia Chase Sutton
’s third book of poems, Of a Transient Nature, was just published by Knut House Press. Her second book of poems, What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Morse Poetry Prize and was published by the University Press of New England. Her first book of poems was Embellishments (Chatoyant). Her poems have won the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, and they have appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Quarterly West, among other magazines, journals, and anthologies. She lives in Tempe, Arizona. She was once a very bad student at The Barbara Adkins School for Dance, located in a basement in the Chicago suburbs.