A Day in the Life of a Syrian Ballerina!

Posted by abakersp in A Day in the Life / 2 Comments


Happy Wednesday friends! Welcome to another edition of A Day in the Life! Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a character from a book, Steel Rose, that is not yet published by Mary Albers Felkins, but we’re hoping will be soon. Rose is a rule-following Syrian Ballerina who came to America four years ago to rebuild her life and is the owner/instructor of a thriving ballet academy in north east Charlotte. She is on the look-out for which of her students has what it takes to perform the role of Clara in this year’s Nutcracker. A flawless performance will serve to draw more students and fortify her desire to maintain her academy…the place where she lives her dream to perform again through her students.

I kind of have an obsession with the Nutcracker, so this story is right up my alley. I have watched the ballet every year since I was a tot. My grandmother used to take me to see the New York City Ballet perform it when they were near our area, and I’ve been taking my daughter to see it put on by a local ballet company in recent years. I pretty much have memorized the entire ballet, all the music, many of the steps, and used to dream about being in the orchestra when I was younger. I know that sounds weird, but trust me when I say I have no dancing ability, nor the body type ;). Playing an instrument in the pit was close enough for me!


A Day in the Life of… Syrian Ballerina, Rose Yara Essa


Being that it pleases God to wake at a reasonable time each morning, I rise by 6:00. That and my employment as a bank teller in Charlotte requires a half hour drive from the studio apartment where I live over my ballet academy.

By God’s grace, Rose’s Ballet Academy has become a thriving ballet school, boasting three studios and a staff of three other professionally trained instructors. The upstairs studio apartment, modest and minimally furnished, makes for ideal housing.

Ah, but must not be late. Late breaks rules. And a rule-breaker brings trouble on herself. Evokes God’s judgment.

Simple stretches on the floor beside my bed relieves muscle stiffness, though the real hard work of ballet will land on my students this late afternoon and evening.

In ballet there is no trying. Only doing. Or so I learned from Madame Belova, the Russian instructor who trained me in Damascus, Syria from the time I was seven and later invited me to tour with Enana, her middle eastern ballet company.

Over a toasted bagel, gratitude bubbles forth, particularly that I was granted temporary protection status here in America. God knows, my country remains in a bad situation.

After breakfast, I brush my teeth, dress in modest, business casual clothing and drive to work. Unless…my ‘clunker of a car’ – as Gabby Ormond, my assistant artistic director calls it – is in the shop again. If so, I walk a minimal distance to the light rail station and wait for a train car. The exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul.

Not to mention how pleasant it is not to shrink for fear of rebel mortar fire. Bombs landing all around. Death and destruction…as common as vendors at an outdoor market.

Though I have found refuge here in east Charlotte for nearly four years now, the occasional sound of siren wail still causes me to shudder.

But that is in the past. And I have traveled the span of an ocean to leave it there. I do still wear my wedding ring, however. A necessary reminder of my commitment to Hasani Mehud Essa. Will I ever learn whether or not he survived the bombing that struck his unit before I fled my country? News from Syria is not easily obtained nor is it to be trusted.

In the late afternoon, I travel back to my academy, scurry upstairs to my studio apartment, and dress for instruction down in Studio A. What better way to live the dream to perform again than through my students? Every day I give them what I once had. Until rebel cannon fire took the life of my mama and baba and destroyed the dream.

Ah, here they come, the first of my level four and five students, each wearing standard leotards and tights, hair knotted into neat buns. After a solid warm-up with foot-strengthening exercises at the barre, we engage in several battements. Proper pointe and technique is essential. Here I correct gawky limbs and posture where needed. Some students have come from other studios and, heavens me, were not properly trained.

After all, we must be adequately prepared for the Nutcracker performance this December. If all goes well again this year, perhaps I will add students to my academy.

More dancers through which to live my dream to perform again.

As the last of my students and staff leaves, I secure the doors, set the alarm, and climb the stairs to my apartment.

Finishing a savory vegan meal, I clean and return the plate. Because everything must be in its place.

Bible open in my lap on my bed, I read a passage by lamplight, pray, and thank God for the privileges He has granted me.

You are my refuge and strength.

Even when my ‘clunker of a car’ is still in the shop.


About the Author

Mary A. Felkins is a contributor to writer’s blogs and on-line magazines. Her debut, inspirational romance novel, Call To Love, (www.pelicanbookgroup) will be released November 15th, 2019. (www.maryfelkins.com/books) The completed cover anxiously awaits being partnered with the story behind it. She is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

Raised in Houston, Texas – and forever a Lone Star girl – she and her husband Bruce moved to the foothills of North Carolina in 1997. They have four (adolescent to young adult-sized) arrows in her quiver. She can be lured from her writing cave if presented with a large, unopened bag of Pnut M&Ms or to watch Fixer Upper. A surprise appearance by her teen idol, Donny Osmond, would also do the trick, although she’d likely pass out.

If, upon introduction, she likes your first or last name, expect to see it show up in one of her novels.

To follow Mary’s story-style devos each week and receive quarterly book news via email, subscribe at www.maryfelkins.com



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