Should Fatima Work in Cyber?

Here’s the thing…

It’s been almost two years since we heard Dominic Cumming’s ‘Ballerinas can get to the back of the queue’ remark (allegedly). And almost two years since we were told to retrain, and Fatima’s picture started doing the rounds. You know the one. A young ballerina tying pointe shoe ribbons as the caption reads, ‘Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet) Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ 

Someone who says it better…

‘Oh yeah, well I don’t like culture. Hoity-stick-it-up-your-toity, high-and-mighty, tight-nosed, sun-dried-tomato-eating, la-di-da-di la-di-dahs.’ – Inspector Grim 

I think this quote from the brilliant sitcom ‘The Thin Blue Line’, starring Rowan Atkinson, sums up what they really want to tell us. At least Grim (played by the brilliant David Haig) says it with a bit of rhythm. 

Here we go then…

I’ve already had a little rant in my previous blog, ‘Yes, We’re Viable’.  So don’t worry. I won’t get going again. There’s not much more to say is there? Yes, we’re viable. We don’t need to retrain. Why? Because Fatima doesn’t need to rethinkThey do. Ballet isn’t just for dancers. It’s for everyone. It brings people together. It unites, inspires, and motivates. It’s not about dance–it’s about community. Sighs… I’m getting angry again. Time for some fiction, I think. 

I started this blog to embrace my creative writing, so I’m trying to challenge myself to write a poem, short story or flash fiction to accompany every post. (Makes another coffee. Procrastinates. More coffee.) Right, here goes… 

“Don’t Touch!”

A piece of flash fiction by Chrissy Kett

Title inspired by a ‘Zizzle Lit’ writing prompt

Is it normal to feel this nervous? 

I look at the other parents around the hall waiting to watch their children perform. Did my own mother used to feel this nervous watching me? 


I let my mind dance in memories…


I touch the tutu and feel the silky satin against my fingertips. 

“Don’t touch!” Mum bats my hand away. 

I look at her determined expression as she threads sequins to the bodice. Why won’t she let me touch it? I’ll be wearing it in two days for the competition. But I recognise the tone in her voice. ‘Don’t argue.’ 

I feel Mum’s nervous energy as I pass her the letter. 

“You’ve done it,” she whispers. 

I’ve got a place? The news doesn’t sink in. I’m numb. Frozen. 

She smiles as she strokes my blank face. Her touch melts the ice, allowing the news to reach me. I’ll be dancing for The Royal Ballet.

We laugh tears of joy. Breathe sighs of relief. 

The tube jolts and I grab the handrail to keep my balance. 

‘Don’t touch,’ I hear Mum’s warning from all those years ago. 

I let go of the rail, and sanitise my hands. 

As soon as I get signal, I phone her. “No, don’t worry, I’m alright,” I tell her straight away. Normally we’d be starting Act One. “They’ve sent us home,” I speak the words I’ve been dreading. The words we knew were coming. Theatres dark. 

I grip my phone tightly as I find the picture. 

There she is. ‘Unviable’. Hanging up her tutu for a career in cyber. 

I grab my makeshift practise barre a little too hard. 

‘Don’t’, I tell myself. 

“Beginners on stage please,” the call comes through the tannoy. 

I touch Mum’s card on the mirror, and make a final check. 

Hair. Blusher. Lipstick. Costume. 

I stroke the bodice of my tutu to calm my nerves. 

This is it. After all this time. 

I leave the dressing room, and head up to the stage. 

I smell the dust, the sweat, and the rosin. 

I hear the discordant melody of the orchestra fade.   

The murmur of the audience falls. 


I head into the wing space as the roar of the overture sweeps through me. 

I see Mum’s face as she says, ‘You could never be unviable.’

Her face stays with me for the whole show, holding me steady for every arabesque. 

My memories start to spin faster like pirouettes out of control…

“Don’t!” Mum grabs my sister before she brings her red wine anywhere near my wedding dress. 

“Don’t!” Mum tells me, as I try to move with my pregnant belly to get her a cup of tea. 

“Don’t!” Mum wipes away my tears as I sit at the side of her hospital bed. “Don’t!” she repeats, but I can’t stop myself weeping. 


“Fatima?” my sister calls me out of my daze. “You alright?” 

“Just thinking about Mum,” I say.

She nods. 

It’s hard not to think about Mum here. She spent years bringing me to all the dance festivals. Holding my hand when I was scared. Boosting my confidence after my falls, and telling me when I hadn’t done enough work. She always told it like it was…

My sister nudges me as he runs onto the stage. “Love the colour,” she whispers. 

I allow myself a smile. It took me hours and hours to embroider that jacket. “Don’t touch!” I snapped at him last night, just like Mum used to do when I was a little girl. I laughed at myself as soon as I saw his bewildered expression. 

I watch him now as he leaps and spins around the stage. He’s part of the next generation, proving our viability. He weaves emotion into his movements in a way that only a dancer can. With every pirouette he demonstrates far more than his strength. He demonstrates our need for the arts. Our desperate need for something that touches our hearts in a way that nothing else can. 

There’s only one emotion that overcomes my pride. 


I wish Mum could see this. 

Enough creativity. I’m a ‘Type A’ personality–give me a list! 

Four reasons to love ballet, even if you’re no ballerina…

  • It’s Beautiful 

I mean, let’s be honest, it’s stunning. That strength. That control. They’re all gorgeous. And I don’t mind telling you I’m currently obsessed with Matthew Ball, Yasmine Naghdi, and Marcelino Sambé. Seriously, watch them. Loving Matty’s headbands in rehearsals too. 

  • The Music 

There’s a reason why ‘The Nutcracker’ returns every Christmas. Save your ears from Justin Bieber and soothe them with some Tchaikovsky. 

  • Workout 

Working hard to keep up with fitness? Bored of the treadmill? Yeah, me too. But trust me, a ballet barre workout’s going to do the job. And you might just enjoy yourself. 

  • Posture

You planning on wearing heels to a party at any point in the future? Ballet’s going to make sure you don’t look like a pregnant duck. 

As Meryl would say, ‘That’s all.’

Let’s cut to the last eight bars shall we?

I confess I’ve stolen this from my mother-in-law, but it’s one of her many sayings that I just love. 

So should Fatima work in cyber? Erm… No. Unless she wants to that is. She should tie up those ribbons and keep on dancing. Because that’s what we need her to do. We need the arts to keep us smiling. We need the arts to keep us going. This pandemic’s still not over. Just talk to anyone. They’re emotionally and physically exhausted. We’ve all been through a lot. All in our different ways. It’s hard. It’s tough. And that’s when we need theatre most. So…

Dancers keep tying those ribbons. 

Musicians keep playing those tunes.

Techies keep putting up with us twirlies. 

Stage managers keep keeping us all in line. 

Photographers, costumers, writers, and all you wonderful creatives…

Keep on. 

Popular Posts…

Yes.We’re Viable.

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Dancing in the Rain.

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Every Company Has One…

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About Me

Hi, I’m Chrissy! I’ve started this blog to celebrate the Arts. I’m a performer who’s taking a little break from being a ‘talking prop’, and am enjoying the teaching and writing side of things. If you want to know a little bit more about me and my writing journey check out my About page.

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