I sometimes have to step closer and gaze upon the expression on her face, to see if it has changed. I want her to smile and confirm to me that the expression in the picture is not one of sadness.
I see a lady, usually reserved and possibly a little shy if you met her in the street. But not in this moment. In this moment she seems to have left the world behind and stepped inside her soul. It leaves me wondering if she knows this portrait even exists...?
Maybe the story behind the painting goes something like this...
I imagine she works in a quiet family restaurant. Nothing big or fancy, just one of those places you get in every town. A dimly lit place but with the aroma of recipes, that are generations old. Gorgeous aromas, that manage to creep up your nose and into your brain, clearing away any doubts you had about going inside.
I would like to think that the artist who painted this, was as awestruck as I. Unaware, when he first walked in, only wanting a warm meal on a cold Thursday night. He only just notices the girl, as he walks in. A plain looking girl. He noticed a hole in the toe of her shoe, as she hastily went about setting a table for him. She smiled to the man and called out her mother, to come to the front of the house. The artist is then greeted by a small olive skinned lady and the girl slips away into the dim light at the far end of the room.
As he orders his meal, he notices the old Lady is dressed a little like a Gypsy. Not that it mattered, it seemed only to add to the warm atmosphere.
Twenty or so minutes pass by and whilst setting down the steaming bowl, the old lady serving him, politely asks, if the Gentleman would mind, if her daughter could practice her dancing.
"Of coarse not, that would be lovely" replied the man.
At first the artist paid little attention, as the needle found its starting point and the speaker gave out a scratchy cough. He was half expecting a young child to run out and begin a theatrically, overenthusiastic performance. But as he looked up, to give polite attention to a young starlet, he realized that it was not a child...
As the first instruments began to vibrate the needle, the young woman, turns her face to the light and raises her arm in one beautifully seamless movement.
It didn't seem to matter that she had little space to dance, the walls either side seemed to want her to stay where she was, as much as I now did. As her dress followed her every move, with the grace of a kite's tail, the intensity of the music seemed to build. Flashes of red and sudden changes in direction were interrupted by a moment in which she would pause and hold a stance. But it was that momentary, enigmatic expression, that captivated our artist to an extent that he never wanted to forget...
The artist felt as though he was looking through a prison window. Staring at someone trying to find beauty in a dark world. But he never really had the time to see if her expression was from sadness, or just passionate concentration...As soon as it appeared, it was gone. Hidden behind a simple flick of the wrist.
The girl had enchanted the man, enough even for him to forget his meal. But he could not look down, he may miss the next turn, the next revolution. As if his heart was somehow connected to the dancing lady, it would only beat for every graceful spin. He would hold his breath until her face would return and would again be frozen for a moment, held within the beam of light, just long enough for him to be able to remember, once the dance over...