New York City

On Saturday, at 10:00 a.m., I follow my ten-year-old daughter up three flights of stairs to Fazil’s, a dance studio located between a bar and an X-rated paraphernalia store on Eighth Avenue between Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh.

Espantoso,” my Spanish friend calls the place. Horrible. In the dressing room, my raven-haired daughter, Zoë, changes into a black spaghetti-strap leotard and a long black skirt with a red flounce.

“I like this place,” she says, inspecting herself in the fun-house mirror. She shoves disobedient wisps of hair into a tight braid, flashes the red flounce on her skirt, and marks a few steps on the cracked, sagging linoleum. Golpe-planta-tacón. The building vibrates with pounding heels, clacking castanets. Teachers’ exhortations carry down the hall. “¡Otra vez! ¡Más rápido!” Again! Faster. Louder. Harder. Better.

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