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What is the meaning of the ballerina doll in ‘The Midnight Club?’

The ballerina figurine in 'The Midnight Club' has a supernatural and personal significance.

Image via Netflix

There were many curious happenings in Netflix’s popular horror series The Midnight Club, and one of the standouts was the ballerina doll, which was meaningful on multiple levels. The story followed a young woman named Ilonka whose college aspirations are sidelined after she gets thyroid cancer and chooses to live at Brightcliffe hospice, a place for terminally ill young people to find some peace. She also wants to investigate the story of a girl from decades ago who disappeared from Brightcliffe and returned a week later completely healed.

Anya, played by Ruth Codd, is Ilonka’s roommate, and she’s a combative and complicated person with many walls up to protect herself. She has bone cancer, and it’s likely that she lost her leg because of it. Ilonka sees that Anya has a ballerina doll with a broken leg, but she’s not quick to say much about it. Anya gives the new girl the hardest time, and it takes a while for her to warm up. Anya does, however, reveal important information about the doll in the scary story she tells.

Anya’s scary story time

In The Midnight Club, season one, episode two, “The Two Danas,” Anya tells a story about a girl named Dana who seemingly had a perfect life. She was a ballerina who was the perfect student, perfect daughter, perfect student, and perfect friend. She grew up in County Kildare in Ireland, and she received a scholarship to the American Baba Academy She then moved to Wasteville in America, where everyone worked or went to school. Dana’s friend, Bill, worried about her because perfection came at a cost, and the ballerina doll in its complete state is seen here.

Dana was secretly unhappy with her life and she asked God at night to free her of her desires. At the same time, she asked the universe for her desire to be fulfilled. One night, the Devil comes to visit her in the form of a woman. The Devil holds the ballerina doll and offers her the opportunity to live dual lives, one who’s the good girl and the other who can act recklessly. Once it’s done it can’t be undone, but the Devil says that this is a no-strings-attached deal and Anya agrees to it.

Suddenly, there are two Danas (Dana Prime and Dana 2) and they set the terms of their agreement. One will live the perfect life as the ballerina, and the other will party and have fun. Since they share each other’s experiences the deal seems like a win-win. It’s fun at first, Dana Prime works on an assignment as Dana 2 parties. She feels the fun she’s having, but things turn bad when the latter takes it too far. Dana Prime has a ballet audition that’s ruined by the effects of Dana’s drug use, and the ballerina breaks her foot.

Dana 2’s drug use gets worse, and she starts imagining distorted faces of the people around her. She throws the ballerina doll out of fear, breaking the doll’s leg. She was no longer listening to her other self, so Dana Prime cuts herself, knowing it will hurt Dana 2. It finally comes to a point where they decide to kill each other, and they blame each other for their problems. They argue about who was there first, and they both fire their guns. Dana wakes up in the hospital, unsure of which one she is, and she’s lost her leg. The Devil says that she didn’t change anything about her; she just gave her the vehicle.

Anya reveals the real story

Anya eventually warms up to Ilonka and shares that she was given the ballerina figure from her friend Rhett. He wanted her to stop her drug use, and in her anger, broke the leg of the figurine. Later, she was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and ever since, she’s been afraid to die and regretted how she’s treated the people that she loved. Throughout the story, Anya’s been seeing shadows, and she fears that death is coming for her. The tough Anya actually breaks down in front of Ilonka and wishes that she could fix things and have the perfect life.

In episode seven, “Anya,” the self-titled character is trapped in a dream after undergoing a ritual to cure her. She doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not. She eventually passes away in her bed, and in the finale episode, “Midnight,” Rhett comes to Brightcliffe and meets Ilonka. He notices the statue of the ballerina has mysteriously been fixed.

Why was the ballerina doll fixed?

In an earlier scene, the kids discussed if they had ever experienced supernatural signs from patients who had passed away at Brightcliffe Hospice. They have various reactions; some believed in it, and some don’t. Anya says that when she dies, she’ll leave a very obvious sign, and she lives up to that promise with the repaired ballerina doll as that sign. Ilonka was feeling guilty after the failed Paragon ritual and was preparing to leave the hospice in defeat. This sign from her friend who had such problems with her in the beginning gave her some peace. Anya is no longer suffering, and she’s at peace now.

The ballerina doll represented Anya’s idea of a perfect life. In her story, Dana seemingly has everything she could ever want, but it shows that it still wasn’t enough. She wished for a life where she could act out on impulse, which winds up destroying her ballet career represented by the broken figurine. Later, in episode seven, she dreams she’s a normal girl who works at a grocery store and wants to be a ballerina. In reality, Anya’s bone cancer diagnosis and then literal leg amputation was represented by the broken doll. The message is that no matter how you look at it, no one is perfect and there’s always a life that you can’t have. The best way to be whole is to be happy with the life you have.

About the author

Ethan Alexander