For two months out of every year, I leave my controlled black and white symmetrical life and I enter into a world of colour and chaos. I work in a studio in the heart of Athens that makes costumes for dancers. All sorts, but mostly specialising in creating tutus for ballerinas. For those of you who don't know what a tutu is, it is that perky dress Natalie Portma n wears in Black Swan.
My job there is to make the hats that go with the tutus and also any costumes that accompany the graceful ballerinas. The teapot in Alice in Wonderland and the big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. Quirky as it may sound, my job there entails carrying large rolls of fabric, cutting meters of foam into shapes, working fourteen hour days, Mondays to Sundays with the persistent murmur of revving sewing machines and my least favourite tool of choice, a burning hot glue gun. There, our two-month mission is to create more than two thousand costumes for divas of all ages preparing for their final year shows that take place within the same time frame. Anyone that has ever worked in dance or theatre knows very well the kind of pressure during those unearthly deadlines that become, not only the divas that enter the stage but all the crew behind them whose job is to make them seem as flawless as possible.
At the end of every season with burnt fingers and swollen feet, I wholeheartedly vow NEVER to go back. And every year I do. Why? Do I have a burning desire to adorn our future ballerinas with the most glittery hats their heart's desire? Well... No. Do I have a hidden agenda to punish my controlling self into submission? Well... possibly, but still... No.
The reason I go back, time and time again, is because in this studio are just over a handful of people whom I admire more than anyone in the world. Who so gracefully create an environment of togetherness like I have never experienced before. A place where there is no boss or employee. Only workers. Where there is no separation between mine or yours. Only the work. Side by side, labouring with women who are the salt of the earth. Hardcore, larger than life creatures, mothers, daughters and wives whom with such grace, power through the burning pain in their backs from sitting at the machines and aching pain in their legs from the hours of standing. Never. Not even once complaining about it. People whom I have shared the kind of laughter that only derives from deep within my gut and have cried in a way I have only ever allowed myself to do alone. They taught me what it means to have a work ethic and what it feels like to be part of a cog in a chain that is larger than myself. These people are my mothers and my sisters, my friends and my comrades.
These ladies are my earth. The place where I nuzzle into when my analytical mind needs rest. The home where my egocentric self, dissipates, and I can comprehend what it really means to feel at one with the other. There, I relinquish control and within the chaos that I detest, I allow myself to trust in togetherness.