characterized by extravagance and profusion
I stand in the wings, dressed in a
lush black tutu embellished with black feathers and blood-red flowers.
make more attractive, as by adding ornament or color
I stand in the wings, dressed in a lush black tutu
embellished with black feathers and blood-red flowers.
a jeweled, semicircular band worn on the head
tiara studded with crystal rhinestones crowns my hair, which is pulled tightly back in a thick bun.
a disease caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite
As Mabinty Bangura, I danced on my bare toes in the mud of the rainy season, disturbing the breeding mosquitoes, who would rise up in anger and bite me—bringing
marked by skill in deception
This isn’t the first time I’ve danced the act-two pas de deux from Swan Lake onstage as Odile, the dark and
cunning daughter of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart.
widely known and esteemed
They flock to Jacob’s Pillow in June of each year to attend this
renowned festival, and here I am about to make my entrance, the youngest professional ballerina among them, dancing a role that demands maturity and sophistication.
the quality or character of being intellectually worldly
They flock to Jacob’s Pillow in June of each year to attend this renowned festival, and here I am about to make my entrance, the youngest professional ballerina among them, dancing a role that demands maturity and
a person who makes deceitful pretenses
harass with persistent teasing or baiting
The Black Swan is a seductress,
tantalizing Prince Siegfried with her womanly charms in order to steal him away from Odette, the White Swan.
an aura of heightened interest surrounding a person or thing
After my April performance, one critic wrote, “She was the sweetest seductress you ever saw...but she has yet to develop any ballerina
mystique. She is only eighteen.”
I am the Black Swan, and as a reviewer later acknowledges, “The
vile Odile was delightfully chilly as she seduced the unwitting prince.”
not aware or knowing
I am the Black Swan, and as a reviewer later acknowledges, “The vile Odile was delightfully chilly as she seduced the
relating to deposits carried by rushing streams
I wondered why my father worked so hard panning for diamonds in the
alluvial mines, diamonds that he would not be allowed to keep.
walk impeded by some physical limitation or injury
hobble home at night, because his back, ankles, and feet ached.
a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material
His hands would be swollen and painful from sifting the heavy, wet soil through his
“If we are
frugal, the money from the mines will eventually be enough to pay her school fees, Alhaji,” my mother said.
causing irritation or annoyance
And nothing was more
galling to my uncle than finding me outside, sitting cross-legged on a grass mat, studying and writing my letters, which I copied from the Qur’an.
advocating or engaged in overthrow of the government
This resulted in poverty and hunger, which made them desperate, so they formed a
revolutionary army to fight for what they needed.
refrain from harming
“We are fortunate that the debils
spared our homes and our lives,” she answered.
deficient in amount or quality or extent
Soon we started seeing more and more people on the road, traveling with their
meager belongings on their heads.
urge on; cause to act
He poked at my legs with his walking stick,
prodding me to walk faster.
brusque and surly and forbidding
“I will not pay even one leone. She can walk...and she isn’t my daughter,” he answered
gruffly, clearly insulted by the man’s assumption that he had fathered such an ugly child.
walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
I held my bundle closer to my chest as I
plodded through the mud, which sucked at my rubber sandals.
summon with a wave, nod, or some other gesture
beckoned Uncle Abdullah over to the truck and said something to him.
the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work
Many of the words were too complicated for me to understand, but I did get the
gist of the papers’ content.
“I am not her parent. My own children are not spotted, like her,” Uncle Abdullah
an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
“I could just as easily sell her to a cocoa
plantation,” he shouted as he seized my arm and began dragging me through the door.
move or force in an effort to get something open
I wanted to go to the United States of America, but my uncle was big and strong, so he
pried me away with little difficulty.
act between parties with a view to reconciling differences
“Wait!” Andrew Jah cried out,
influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
coaxed my teeth off my uncle.
a sudden sharp feeling
I felt a sudden
pang in my chest.
make calm or still
The girl’s sweet voice slowly
lulled me into a surprisingly sound sleep.
a raised mark on the skin
She struck us over and over again, raising
welts all over our bodies.
spring back; spring away from an impact
The sound bounced against the walls and
ricocheted across the room from end to end.
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
Some chirped through their teeth to show
disdain or disgust.