Love Any Out of (90 Seconds) End

(Preface)

Esther was still a child the first time I went to her rhythmic gymnastics training, she must have been around 7 years old. Both she and her sisters were delighted to go. They danced and trained with their team an average of three times per week, except during competition season, when they trained daily.

Esther liked the challenge of putting dance moves together while endlessly handling a variety of pieces of apparatus. She enjoyed swinging her body across the entire surface of the mat, but what she liked the most was the rapport with her peers. Only one thing worried her: making mistakes; to make a mistake during a competition that might ruin the team.

A final move after covering the entire surface: chin anchored to the floor, collar bone and neck supporting the weight of the body, elevated on the mat, legs open, in the splits above her head. A hoop frames the face, leaning lightly on the floor and on the back of her neck. Arms open, facing backwards, palms keeping the balance, Esther smiles and looks up.

Esther, you have 90 seconds. These are the 90 obligatory seconds of solo choreographies at competitions. Yes, she says, I always have 90 seconds, and the choreography internalised: turn, then throw, jump, now switch. Always smiling, eyes up.

How do those 90 seconds feel? They are 90 seconds without thinking,
90 seconds of precision, expression, technique, and strangely enough, full of emotion. At the same time, they are 90 mechanical seconds,
90 seconds of getting it right, 90 seconds of condensed desire,
an overwhelming desire to show the world how hard you've worked.
90 seconds in fear of making mistakes; one single extra bounce of the ball and thousands of hours seep into failure.

How about the 90 seconds repeated thousands of times? Those are actually beautiful, training non-stop until your body aches,
90 seconds of routine, 90 seconds following your obligations, doing what is expected of you, 90 seconds preparing to win, 90 seconds of self-improvement, of dedication, of compromise, 90 seconds of injuries, 90 seconds of massages and laughter with your team. And they are somehow 90 seconds that change to remain the same. 90 seconds to lose your adolescence to.

What about the 90 seconds after that? They're tough; 90 seconds to know too soon that something is missing, you miss your peers all the time. 90 seconds of abandonment, of loneliness, 90 seconds of emptiness, a void. 90 seconds of dissatisfaction despite being happy with what you've achieved. You have 90 seconds to recover. You spend 90 seconds looking for a reason to keep fighting, 90 seconds of vulnerability, sadness, and weakness. 90 seconds mad at the world, wanting to leave as soon as possible. 90 seconds to fight for a daily life of common habits while you're lost in a foreign environment. 90 seconds crying nonstop, but never in front of anyone, 90 disoriented seconds.

90 seconds. (Re)count. End. Count down. 90 sec. Death.

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Silver Banner 2 at Corner College, Zürich (Photo by Elvira Barrio Traspaderne)
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Silver Banner 2 at Corner College, Zürich (Photos by Simon Schaufelberger)
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Rehearsal on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photo by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Rehearsal on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photo by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Performance on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photos by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Performance on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photos by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Performance on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photos by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Performance on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photos by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Rehearsal on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photo by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Rehearsal on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photo by Dimitrina Sevova)
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Elvira Barrio Traspaderne during rehearsal on August 20, 2016, at Corner College, Zürich (Photo by Dimitrina Sevova)