Su mano recorrió los dedos, las costuras, el agujero del tiempo que aprovecharon las polillas, de aquel guante que perdió su blanco original del principio de la historia, cuando el encaje halagaba sus manos en los agasajos festejando sus éxitos, su fama…
Aquella última prenda que se ponía con la alegría de saber que estaría con los que amaba, los que aplaudían su talento.
El mismo guante que acariciara copas de champagne y canapés, y estrechara otras manos que congratulaban su arte en el escenario: hombres que mentían la admiración de su cuerpito estilizado lleno de la gracia femenina de los cisnes y las mariposas; hombres que la deseaban, que intentaban comprar, con su dinero y su poder, sus encantos, y que ella eludía con sonrisas cómplices, débil a la lisonja.
El mismo guante que recibiera tantas flores, desde que lo compró en la tienda más prestigiosa de París un día de lluvia, tras la noche que creyó sería la más cara entre todos sus recuerdos en su carrera de artista.
El mismo que perdió su par cuando partiera lejos de la mascarada de los que fingieron conocerla; de los que, por envidia a su falsa felicidad, la hundieron en el caos de las intrigas, de los rumores, de un delito, de un juicio donde, con el mismo par de guantes, guardó silencio mientras los observaba a todos, por primera vez, como nunca antes los había visto: tan ruines y tan infames!; cuestionándose quién era ella misma.
A veces, no los escuchaba, hasta que la despertaba el viento de sus gritos con acusaciones que la hacían dudar de su cordura, para volver a evadirse en los recovecos de su memoria: en los paseos por la campiña con el hombre que amaba y que ahora le costara tanto reconocer junto a aquella nueva mujer, en las gradas del juzgado; el bullicio de los hijos, por la mañana, con el desayuno servido en la terraza, y que ahora le negaran sus abrazos, celosos porque danzaba como una diosa.
La sentencia era clara: no la amaban!, por lo que aceptó la soledad de la isla con el canto del mar y el vuelo de las gaviotas, sus hermanas, en su elegido exilio de una cortesana, que no pudo esperar la justicia de Dios, y se entregó al encaje de las olas…..
Marie van Goethem
From: Secretaría Premios Toledo Literatura [email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2012 10:15 AM
To: Ana Maria Martorella
Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2012 10:15 AM
To: Ana Maria Martorella
Nos es grato comunicarte que la obra de narrativa que enviaste titulada “Redes de Encaje” al I Certamen Internacional Toledano “Casco Histórico”, ha sido clasificada en el lugar número 15. Como te informamos en la Bases, a los 30 primeros clasificados se les publicará su envío en un libro que recogerá a los 30 catalogados. En tu calidad de finalista, recibirás en tu domicilio postal un ejemplar gratuito que te cede la Secretaría del certamen, sobre el mes de enero. Han participado en el género de narrativa, 156 autores/ras. Así que… te felicitamos. Recibe un fuerte abrazo de los jurados, Editorial Celya, y Secretaría.
Marie Van Goethem
A ribbon tied loosely around her braid. Shoulders back, arms taut and fingers tightly interlaced behind her. Lanky legs, knobby knees. Tired, lilting eyes. Tattered gauze tutu. And chin lifted in irresolute defiance.
Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen” is one of the most recognizable works of modern art in the world. Looking at her, some will see a teenager who, though a little awkward, has a quiet beauty and authenticity. Others envisage an ugly, depraved street urchin.
For more than a century, her figure has been scrutinized, unleashing vicious debates over issues of female beauty and sexuality. She was center stage, too, for part of an artistic revolution.
As part of the ongoing wrangling over the girl’s identity, and what she represents, art historians in more recent years have begun to ask: Who was she?
A girl by the name of Marie Van Goethem was the real “little dancer,” a frequent model for the French painter and occasional sculptor.
Her story, as it has come together, is fragmented and quite grim.
MARIE VAN GOETHEM’S STORY
Born poor in Paris
Marie Genevieve Van Goethem was born June 7, 1865, to Belgian parents, a father who was a tailor and a mother who had no profession. The girl was given the name of her dead sister, who died after 18 days of life the prior year.
The Van Goethems settled in
The onset of modernism brought with it a new popular culture, too. Bustling streets, sidewalk cafes, singers and dancers, enticing shops – these were all signs of a new pace of life, a new hunger for pleasure and entertainment.
The family lived in
Marie became a student at the Paris Opera dance school and later performed in opera house ballet performances. Her two sisters, Antoinette and Charlotte, were also dancers.
At some point when the girls were still young, Mr. Van Goethem died, leaving his wife and daughters to fend for themselves. Mrs. Van Goethem became a laundress, a common job for dancers’ mothers.
The widow Van Goethem and her girls moved into a seven-story stone building facing the street, not far from Degas’ studio. It had “one dark staircase,” two shops at street level, a paint shop, a beer seller, an innkeeper, a hairdresser and laundresses.
The world within a world of impoverished Parisians of that time: “But mixed up with the lofty brand-new buildings there were still plenty of rickety old houses; between facades of carved masonry yawned black holes, gaping kennels exposing their wretched windows. Coming up through the rising tide of luxury the destitution of the slums thrust itself into view.”
Dance as a fine art had fallen to the realm of mild musical entertainments that attracted large, less discriminating crowds. Dancers were paid modest wages, and a little extra per-performance money. It was generally more than other child laborers earned.
Degas frequented the ballet performances at the Paris Opera House, where Marie danced roles of extras such as peasants and slaves. He often slipped backstage with other prominent figures of the day.
His relationships with women are largely unknown. Degas’ mother died when he was 13, he never married and no one can say whether he had mistresses or not.
Each of the trio of girls modeled for Degas, as did a host of others. The artist created some of the first behind-the scenes images of dancers, by far his favorite subject.
Since the 1870s, Degas had been investigating the mechanics of human motion, which some say caused a psychological distance from his subjects, both in the studio and in his art. He dictated positions to the dancers who, for four hours of holding a pose, would probably be paid between 6 and 10 francs (a pound of meat cost a franc or
He did not work quickly, unlike many of his Impressionist contemporaries, and demanded a great deal of time and perseverance from his models. At some point, the police came around, asking questions about the frequent comings and goings of the young girls.
Degas attended the ballet’s auditions and competitions, with, some say, a paternal interest, advocating for one dancer or another.
The dancer’s hard work and the cost to her body are present in her muscular form and her stance. She is an individual, tired and tense, not a type.
Young Marie became known as Degas’ model. The local newspapers, which included a line or two about each dancer when there was a performance, described just Marie as an “artist’s model” for a time.
Marie and her sister Antoinette were also noted in the papers for frequenting the Martyrs Tavern and the Rat Mort, both frequented by Degas and known hangouts for young and available women. The girls had become prostitutes. The lower- and middle-class women who took up the sex trade were both reviled and desired in a way that’s partly unfamiliar today.
Fear that their vulgarities would infiltrate the new modern culture was common. Still, they were also among the most independent, and sometimes educated, women of their time. For a few, prostitution was a way to climb up the social ladder.
For the van Goethem girls, though, it was not.
Antoinette was thrown in jail for trying to steal 700 francs from one of her gents and seems to disappear from all record after that. Marie was arrested, too, for trying to pickpocket one of her customers.
Marie was eventually sacked, dismissed from the opera ballet. Dancers were usually fired for things such as performance mistakes, absences and tardiness.
After that, nothing is known about Marie. That her fate was cast into oblivion only accentuates the debate over the meaning of “Little Dancer.”
The end to Marie’s story might have affirmed one point of view or another, but we don’t know whether she married, had children or even grew to old age. No record has been found.