This, as the title shows, is a dance story, but I'll explain all the
dance terms, so people who don't know anything about it can (hopefully!)
enjoy it, too. But if there's anything you don't understand, e-mail me and
I will answer all your questions. It's especially meant for people who have
seen the movie 'Save the last Dance'. Please tell me what you think of the
first chapter of my first story.
Sarah strained to keep the difficult position she was in, with her arms
raised gracefully over her head to the ceiling of the dance studio, and one
of her legs lifted out in an attitude position (when the leg is first
stretched straight behind the body and then bent at the knee so the foot is
as high as, and parallel to, the hips) and her whole weight on the tips of
her toes of her other leg. She threatened to wobble, and shifted her weight
more over her supporting leg, until she was so straight she looked like a
statue that had been carved in that position and would never move.
Sarah loved moments like this, when she could stand on one leg without
holding on to anything, ignoring the wisps of dark blond hair which had
escaped from the tight knot she had fashioned at the back of her head.
Then she heard the clack of the dance teacher's high shoes as she came
towards the girl.
'Very beautiful, Sarah. Come and see, class. Look at the perfect way
Sarah holds her body over her foot and how she raises her arms in a
graceful oval just in front of her head.'
The teacher, Miss Levine, smiled at Sarah, pleased with her progress.
'And your leg forms a nice line there. Keep up the good work!'
Flushed with success, Sarah lowered her leg and went down from her toes.
She was sweating with exhaustion, but it was definitely worth it. It wasn't
often that a pupil of the Julliard School of Fine Arts was praised with
such enthusiasm. The competition was fierce, and if a student behaved
badly, was absent or late for a few lessons, or didn't fulfill the
standards of the school talent-wise, they were kicked out. A lot of young
dancers had been dismissed in the first few weeks of school. But Sarah
wasn't among them. Her talent was growing, as was her confidence in being
able to succeed, and she was judged one of the best of the fifty female
dancers in the Junior class.
Meanwhile, Miss Levine was correcting other girls in the class: 'No,
Ruth, you aren't right up on your toes. You will never get it right if you
don't change that. Amy, that leg is better than it was before, but the knee
still isn't high enough. Oh, Jane, will you never get that balance?! You've
been working on it for weeks now!' she exclaimed exasperatedly as she
struggled to get Jane, a tall, thin girl with wide dark eyes and ash-brown
hair, into the right position.
Sarah turned around and looked down the barre (wooden bar that runs
along a wall in dance studios; dancers support themselves on it to get
their balance and posture right) to see if anyone was as good, or better,
as her. Ruth, who stood directly behind her, was trying with an agitated
expression on her face to lift her entire weight on the tips of her toes.
As Sarah looked her over, she shook her head.
Ruth was hopeless. Her reddish brown hair was tucked up in a messy knot,
her skinny, stick-like arms were held in a stiff, unnatural-looking way,
when the aim was to make them look smooth and flowing, and her frowning
blue-grey eyes looked too big for her thin, pale face. She was neither a
good dancer nor a pretty one.
Amy, who was next in line, was pretty, very pretty. She had platinum
blond hair, sparkling violet blue eyes and a nice, slim figure that had a
graceful look to it. Sarah sighed defeatedly. She could never look as
beautiful as Amy. But, in fact, Sarah was even more beautiful than Amy. She
possessed flowing, dark blond hair with bits of gold glimmering in it when
the light touched it, and clear, long-lashed blue-green eyes that captured
people's attention at first sight. Her waist was slimmer than Amy's, and
her smile had an exotic flair to it. But in Sarah's critical eyes, she
looked like a dead leaf in comparison to Amy's blossom-like appearance. In
a little rush of triumph, she did note that Amy had been criticised often
today by Miss Levine, and right now, her back was not straight as it should
be, but crooked. At least she could dance better than Amy, she thought with
a little bit of consolation.
Dark-eyed Jane was of course still struggling with her attitude (see
above), and even though she had managed to slip through the first harsh
weeks of the demanding classes, Sarah was sure she wouldn't be here much
Sarah's eyes softened as she turned them to the next person in line,
Ellie. Ellie was her room-mate, and the two teenagers had become friends
Ellie, tucking back a bit of her shiny black hair, looked up to catch
Sarah's eye and smiled in her shy, friendly way. She was one of the most
graceful and expressional dancer of the class, but she lost hope easily and
couldn't jump very high or far. Sarah worked with her at the technical
points of dance, and in return, Ellie taught her the Chinese way of
expressing herself through movement, which she had been taught where she
Ellie didn't regard herself as pretty, but Sarah knew Ellie's small and
slim form was beautiful even when she wasn't dancing. The happy smile left
Sarah's face as she heard a bossy whisper that carried across the room:
'You're not doing it right, Ellie. Your leg hangs behind you so you look
like a scarecrow. Maybe you should eat a little less. I've got a great book
on extreme diets I can lend you if you need it.'
Poor Ellie went pink in the face and straightened her leg with ferocity,
blinking back tears from her glassy eyes. Sarah's eyes hardened like steel
as she met the gaze of the culprit.
Sandra, the girl least liked by all the dancers, tossed back her head
and looked at Sarah with fake innocence. Her light blue eyes stared in mock
pity at Ellie's efforts and she laughed a tinny laugh, smoothing one of the
golden curls that she had pulled out from her knot to dangle by the side of
her face. Sarah glared at her with loathing.
How dare she insult poor Ellie, who, despite her slimness, always
thought she was too fat! And it wasn't like Sandra had the perfect dancer's
body, either. Her figure was too voluptuous and her feet were too big. Even
though she had a pretty face and lovely hair, she wasn't really beautiful.
She lacked something for true beauty, something that Ellie did have!
But in Sandra's opinion, she was the best, the most beautiful, the most
talented, the most attractive to boys… She was the worst show-off on earth.
'All right, girls. Come into the center, please!' the dance instructor
called out and the students left the barre (see above) and headed to the
middle of the room.
When Sarah looked at Ellie again, she suddenly stopped short and gazed
in bewilderment at her friend. Ellie's cheek-bones showed clearly through
her skin, more clearly than before, and her arms were even bonier than they
had been. Her eyes looked big and tired, and dark circles had formed under
them. What was Ellie doing to herself?
All of a sudden, Sarah remembered how often her room-mate had skipped
lunch, saying she wasn't hungry, how often all she had for supper was an
apple, and how often she disappeared into the fitness-room of the dance
school. Ellie was dieting! And she was so thin already! Sarah realized with
a start what could happen to Ellie. She could get anorexia, and what would
she do then? If she didn't eat anything, she could die!
The next time Sarah turned to Sandra, her eyes were burning with hatred.
But she also felt a deep sense of guilt. How long had Ellie been doing
this?! And she, who was supposed to be her friend, hadn't noticed a thing!
This is all my fault, she thought miserably. And Sandra's! If Sandra
hadn't kept on saying mean things to Ellie, maybe she wouldn't be in this
As the music started for their floor exercises, Sarah squared her
shoulders and decided with unwavering confidence that she would talk to
Ellie after class. She had to save her friend!