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The Balletic Rebellion

Автор: 2000 ©Ирина Емельянова


To Tatyana A. Veselova,
the leader of our dancing ansamble,
a choreographer and ballet-mistress.


"Stand straight! Mademoiselles, remember that les ronds de
jambes are performed in the position 'pointe', not 'flex'!
Jammes, what are you thinking about? You should think about the
toes of your left foot! Listen to the rythm! Alba, this is not
the fifth position that you're standing in, this is I don't know
what. Giry, - said Madame to her own daughter, - mind your heels!
Now, the adagio again..."

It was a dancing lesson in the ballet school of the Grand
Opera. The professor was Madame Giry herself, the theatre ballet
mistress. The girls in the class were all about fourteen, nearing
the graduation from school and the beginning of their work on
stage. Chita Alba, a Spanish lass who had recently arrived to
Paris from Pyrenees, sighed and gripped the bar more tightly.

"Alba, don't hold the bar as if it were a life ring. It will
hamper your movements," - said Madame who seemed to be completely
oblivious to young Chita's feelings. And her feelings could be
described in one word: frustration.

She was sent to the greatest theatre of Paris as the best
young dancer in their duchy. She used to dance flamenco with
the lively grace of a wild child of the South, catching
instinctively the complicated sequences of movements. Chita was
absolutely sure that she would be the most praised pupil and make
a brilliant career almost immediately.

The reality turned out to be quite different. This old woman
in her long, dark dress, always stern and never laughing, strict
to the smallest mistakes, seemed not to acknowledge Chita's
prowess at all. The dances in the Opera ballet were not as those
that Chita was used to, and, in fact, they were quite boring. One
perfect pose, another perfect pose, slow movements between...
keep the whole body still, only one leg moving... Just boring,
that's all!

To Chita Alba, who was considered apt in wild Spanish
dances, all this 'ballet' seemed just a travesty of the very idea
of dancing. Of course, the premiere danseurs onstage danced very
gracefully and skillfully, Chita could appreciate that. But now,
with all these 'classes', any possibility of solo dancing seemed
very distant to her.

And this ballet mistress, Madame Giry! She could make
everyone plunge deep into frustration.

* * *

"I'm sick and tired of it! - Chita cried and threw her
ballet shoe across the room with a true Spanish temper. - 'Stand
straight! Mind your heel!' - she mimicked Madame Giry's
prononciation mockingly. - What are we supposed to be,
marionettes? I tell you this is _not_ dancing!"

"You'd better mind your tongue, Concepcion Alba, - said Meg
Giry. Meg was 15 and was already considered a 'coryphee'. Nothing
strange, Chita thought, for her mother was the ruler of the
dancing world in the Opera. - Ballet is the very embodiment of

"Embodiment, my foot! - chuckled Chita. - Moving like frosen
dolls, without freedom, without fire, every movement learned once
and forever? If you want to know, Megan Giry, we in Spain
consider dancing quite a different thing!"

Meg could keep her mask of authority, but it was evident
that she was also rather tired of the monotonous lesson. As for
the younger girls, they definitely showed their interest.
"And what kind of dances do you have over there?" - asked
the most curious girl, Cecile Jammes.

"Oh, we dance under the stars! Our skirts are like flame,
our scarfs fly, all our bodies move with the music! And the
music, I tell you, - Chita saw that she definitely had the
audience's attention, - the music is not like these boring pieces
that Monsieur Baroux plays at the lessons. Our musicians play
their guitars as if their instruments are made of fire! We are
one with the movement, with the music, with the dance! We dance
around fire, and our dance is like fire - that's why we call it

The girls listened with rapture. Chita had the southern
poetical talent, so her story really seemed wonderful and
entrancing. The young dancers sighed.

"And we here even don't know that there's something like
that," - Cecile Jammes sighed.

"Of course you don't! Look at your professor! What can she
possibly know of dancing? She is _old_, for God's sake!"

"Old?! - someone asked.

"Of course! She is, I think, more than 30 years old!"
"Conception Alba, my mother is 35," - said Meg Giry with her
faulting authority. Telling the truth, Meg herself considered 35
a rather old age, so she couldn't really object to Chita's

"35! My God! Perhaps she was a good dancer once, but now she
definitely can't dance a row! I suppose that's why she's so mean
- she envies us and tries to conceal it!"

"My mother is _not_ mean, Conception! She is just _strict_!
And that is necessary for our education," - said Meg Giry who was
beginning getting mad at Chita. But other girls silenced her:
"Shut your mouth, Meg Giry! You _know_ Chita tells the
truth! You only don't like it because Madame is your mother!"

Chita, who suddenly felt a heroine, stressed her point by

"And if we ask her to dance, she won't be able to, and then
she won't drill us like this!"

This simple idea momentarily silenced all other girls,
including Meg. Meg never saw her mother really dancing,
for since the death of her father Madame had been wearing these
heavy dark dresses and walking around straight and severe. As for
other future ballerinas, they began pondering the idea...

"Chita, but Madame will roast us for breakfast if we do
that!" - said one girl.

"If only one of us does that, yes. But if we _all_ ask her..."

"Conception Alba, think what you are saying, - Meg Giry
said. - Are you planning a rebellion?"

"Yeah! - said Chita who grasped the concept immediately. -
Aren't you French the admirers of freedom?"

"Yes! That's great! - other girls shouted. - But how are we
going to do this?"

"Trust in me, - said Chita. - At the evening lesson I'll ask
her to dance. And you should only support me. If you all agree
with me, she won't be able to do anything!"

"Conception Alba, you will be very sorry for this!" - Meg
Giry said. But she was quickly silenced by the indignated
shouting of others.

* * *

At the evening lesson, when the girls were again performing
these boring exercises, Madame Giry was again drilling them:

"Jammes, keep your knees straight! This is an arabesque, not
an attitude! Delorme, don't look at the floor - there's nothing
interesting there. Alba, mind the position of your arms!"

Suddenly Chita released the bar, turned to Madame Giry and
said in a loud voice:

"Madame Giry, how _can_ you demand all this from us? Perhaps
the position of my arms is not perfect, but I, at least, can
really do flamenco! Can you, yourself, perform even a simplest

Terrible silence embraced the room. To plan a rebellion
against a tyrannic professor in the common dressing-room is one
thing, to stand against that professor and look directly into her
eyes is another. But the girls really wanted the humiliation of
the strict ballet mistress. Chita's stories of the 'dance of
flame' inspired them. They turned to Madame Giry and waited.

Madame Giry surveyed the room. Looked at her pupils.
Squinted. Then looked at Chita.

"All right!" - she said suddenly. - "Wait for me here!" -
And she quickly left the room.

The girls had no idea what to think. This was something
completely unexpected. They exchanged glances, shrugged their
shoulders and decided that Chita was, after all, to blame for
everything - let her pay for her insolence in the most terrible
way! (Though they had no idea what way that would be.)
Several minutes later, Madame Giry returned, wrapped in a
long cloak and hood. She leaned over to the accompanist and said
something to him. Monsieur Baroux, an old musician who had been a
pianist in the Opera orchestra in his prime years, looked at her
with an astonished look, then nodded and positioned his hands
over the piano.

Madame Giry went to the center of the room and threw the
cloak away with the best Spanish flourish. Beneath, she was clad
in a wonderful dancing costume - long skirts the colour of flame,
a balloon-sleeved blouse, a bright scarf. A high comb of ivory
was in her hair, bracelets ringed on her arms.
And before the girls issued a sigh of astonishment, the old
accompanist began playing.

Wild Spanish music filled the room, and Madame Giry's body
went alive with it. She wasn't a woman any more - she was a
whirlwind of movement and colour, every part of her body
performing the complicate movements of flamenco with easy grace
and natural affinity. She was a living flame, burning and yet
enrapturing, one with the music, among the astonished ballerinas.
Chita had never seen anyone dancing the national Spanish
dance with such fantastic prowess. God, she herself couldn't even
think to compare with her!

The accompanist finished playing, and with the last chord
Madame Giry froze for several seconds in the final pose - a
flame restrained by human will. Then she calmly picked up her
discarded cloak and left the room - evidently, to change back in
her usual dark dress.

"Chita Alba, you're an idiot!" - cried Cecile Jammes.

"My mother is NOT old at all!" - added Meg Giry

Chita was completely dumbfounded. The rebellion choke.

* * *

Since that time no one tried to nag Madame Giry...

As for Chita, she studied ballet in the Paris Opera for
three years, then returned back to Spain and became a great
dancer there. And she always considered Madame her teacher.

"She didn't just show me the movements, - said Conception
Alba, - movements come themselves when you know how to do it. She
showed me that, in fact, there're no separate forms of dance.
Dance can have many faces, many facets, but that's still dance!"



First published on Website "Parisian Tale".
Впервые опубликован на сайте "Парижская сказка".

Рассказ "Flamenco" выложен с разрешения его автора - Ирины Емельяновой. Текст выложен в авторской редакции и с авторским форматированием.

Копирование всего текста или его фрагментов запрещено без согласия автора рассказа.

Рассказ выложен на данном сайте 29 июля 20013г.

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