A Dance to the Music of Time

"Myriam! What is that supposed to be?" Furiously, she rushed towards the girl. "Don't tell me you call that an arabesque! Look, you have to turn your leg this way, and then you lift it a little higher. Like this, you see?" Myriam nodded, her face tense. The ballet mistress turned towards another girl to correct her feet and shoulders. When she looked back at Myriam, she saw that the girl was still stumbling through her steps as though she had never corrected her.
"Myriam! What have I told you two minutes ago? Lift you leg higher!" The girl nodded, but her face clearly displayed what she was thinking: 'I'd like to see you do better!'
The older woman sighed. This ballet corps was a disaster. None of the soloists showed the effort that was necessary to perform on stage. The only thing was, the other girls were even worse.

"Madame Giry!" Her thoughts were interrupted by the angered shout of one of the new managers, the smaller one. He was storming towards her with the usual amount of self-importance, a letter in hand.
"Do you have any idea what this might be?", he fumed, waving the letter in front of her face. She looked at him indifferently. "I'll tell you, then, This", again, he waved the letter furiously, "is the program for the coming month. You were supposed to stage a ballet in two weeks time! And how far have you come? Surely you're ballet doesn't consist of the girls standing in line and moving their legs to and fro like they are at the moment!"

She sighed. This man was impossible! "Monsieur", she said, trying to keep her patience. "This is simply for warming up. We might be a few days behind schedule, but we will certainly be ready in time. Perhaps you simply never stayed long enough to witness the actual rehearsal. I assure you that there is no need to worry." He seem to calm down against his own will and was now furiously searching for another reason to agitate himself.
"And what is your excuse for these abnormally high prices for your costumes? I'm not made of money, you know!"

She closed her eyes. This was getting ridiculous.
"Monsieur, the prices are no higher than usual. And now I must ask you to excuse me. I have a rehearsal to finish." And she walked away, leaving him to stand with his mouth opening and closing like a fish's.

She sank down onto her bed. Today had been even more tiring than usual. Rehearsal had been a nightmare. The soloists had shown no difference to the rest of the corps, and she had started to wonder why she still included solos if no one was willing to work for them. Did the girls not realise that the ballet corps had a reputation to lose?
And this awful manager, Monsieur André, had been not an inch better. Fussing about the program and the costume prices as though he had no other problems!

Sometimes, she only wanted to leave, to turn back time.

She thought of her own time as a ballerina. She remembered rehearsals full of pain and struggle, nights full of tears, full of fear not to live up to the expectations. And she remembered the raving applause of the audience after a performance, she remembered the heavenly feeling to fly that dancing had always given her.
A tear rolled down her cheek.
Years were between now and then. But were they really?
She got up, almost trance-like, and walked to her wardrobe. She knew exactly where they were. At the top, on the left side, in the back. Hidden behind useless things so as not to remind her of what had once been.

When she finally held her old, worn pointe shoes in hand, they seemed to live. They seemed to breathe, and they were calling her.
She checked her clock. It was past midnight. With sudden determination, she got up and left.

She would have found her way to the stage under any circumstances, and darkness was the least obstacle. When she finally reached her destination, she simply stood for some moments, taking in the darkness and the silence surrounding her. Then, she went to find the lights that illuminated the edge of the stage.

She knelt down and slowly, almost caressing, put on her shoes. It felt good. It felt familiar.
She got up again and walked to the bar behind the stage. When she placed her hand on it, she felt as thought the last few years had never passed.
She thought of nothing while she worked on the bar, simply enjoying the feeling of her muscles stretching and relaxing. After some time, she let go of the bar and went onto the stage.

There, she took third position and waited. In her head, she could hear music play, and she began to dance. It still felt like the most natural thing after all these years.

And while she danced the arabesques, the attitudes and the je-tés, she saw her first dancing solo repeat itself inside her head. She saw her first curtain call, she saw the days fly, she saw the time pass.
When she rose en pointe, she thought of her first performance as a prima ballerina. It had been Giselle, and it had been the proudest day in her life. Many lead roles had followed, and while she pirouetted, she saw them flash up in front of her with each turn.

Thus, time repeated itself, and still she heard the music play in her head.

And unaware of the perfection she still possessed, unaware of the eyes that were watching her out of the shadows, she danced her dance to the music of time.