Cover Photo: Illustration by Lindsay Stripling for Catapult
Illustration by Lindsay Stripling for Catapult

The Dancer Ascends the Stage

Our dance was inspired by a custom where women lay swords at their throats, and men step on them just hard enough to prove the women’s courage.

I was sometimes beautiful, sometimes not -- I seemed to bear the potential for clean, fruit-bearing, productive output; but occasionally, something could go wrong.

Mallika Rao is a writer, with bylines at or forthcoming at T Magazine, New York Magazine, Believer Magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic dot com, and elsewhere. She writes profiles, essays and cultural criticism, and is interested in how form, language, and authorial voice can be used to serve an idea.