I always smile gently when I go to the supermarket and pass by cans of corn. That was dinner when I was young. It was Mamma and me, just the two of us against the world, eating canned corn.
Cooking has never been one of my mother’s finer qualities. I think that she doesn't really enjoy it, but I always loved watching her preparing this corn in an oh-so-meticulous way. First she had to open the can with a knife, and without slicing off a finger. Then she’d pour off the strange murky liquid, melt some butter in a saucepan, and add the corn with some salt. Voilà! Dinner was served.
My mum worked at a number of different jobs, including as a bartender. Although money was tight, thanks to her cans of corn and other forms of support, I am the person I am today, doing the thing I love most: dancing. Our home was a rural village called Bellagio near Lake Como in northern Italy. There was no education beyond primary school there, so my mother drove me to high school in Lecco, on a narrow road between the mountains and the lake. Once after a heavy rain, there was an avalanche, and we were stranded in Lecco while the one road back to our village was repaired. Touring around the town, we found a dance school and went in to take a class together. That is how my life as a dancer started, alongside my mum. Later she took me to dance classes everywhere, in the big cities of Italy and abroad, discovering a passion that united us even more than before.
During our corn dinners, we listened to different music every night and made tapes for the car. The taping process was complicated, involving two stereos, one playing a vinyl record, the other recording. The most difficult thing was to make them start and stop at the same time. Then we’d listen to the tape-of-the-moment while driving to and from school. The trip was an hour long each way, so we had plenty of time to learn all the songs. It was like my own personal music appreciation class, and I’m certain that it helped me to become a dancer.
Sometimes even nowadays, when I am too lazy to cook, I prepare my mum’s opera d'arte: corn with butter and salt. I love you forever, Mamma.
Dafne Bianchi is a dancer in Paris: www.instagram.com/dafne_bianchi/.