CHAPTER TWO: DISTRACTIONS
“Come on Franny we are going to be late!” Daria screamed from the bottom of the stairs.
“Coming. I’m coming. I should not have drank that much,” frantically Francis was gathering up her things, trying to get herself together. “Is Camilla awake?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see her. I thought she left early like always.”
“You didn’t check on her?!” Almost breaking down Camilla’s door, Francis pushed her way in to see Camilla still in bed, snoring. “WAKE UP CAMILLA! YOU ARE GOING TO BE LATE!”
“Holy shit!” Camilla threw herself out of bed. “Oh my god. Oh, my god. Oh my GOD!”
Francis rushed back out and down the stairs, “She just woke up Daria.”
“Well, there is no point in all of us getting fired. CAMILLA! We are leaving! We will tell them you had a family emergency!” Daria shouted up the stairs.
“DON’T YOU DARE! I WILL KILL YOU!”
“See you at the studios!”
“FUCK OFF!” Camilla had never been late, in fact, she was always there an hour early before company class. She is the one who was there doing her pilates and stretching. Doing pointe work before the work day even began. Basically a bun head. Frantically she threw herself together and rushed down the stairs, nearly almost tripping. She rushed out of the apartment, slamming the door, pointe shoes falling out of her bag. Gathering her stuff quickly, a blurry figure grabbed a shoe and ran off it with it. “COME BACK! THOSE ARE CUSTOM FREEDS!” Flinging herself onto the cold, wet, gray concrete, “I just got mugged for a pointe shoe.”
“Miss do you need some help?” A hand stretched down towards Camilla’s pressed into the concrete face.
“No. I’m fine. Just having a rough start.”
“Can I get you anything? Do I need to call the cops? Did he get your wallet?”
Sighing, “No. He got a custom Freed.”
“Sounds valuable. Piece of art?”
“No, it’s a shoe. A ballet shoe.”
“Oh.” Camilla finally peeled herself off the pavement and stared up at a strikingly handsome man. Early thirties, with salt and pepper hair, a jawline that would make you clench, and green eyes that glowed. He smiled at her, a half smile, the kind of smile where only the right side of your lips curl up. Offering his hand, “Can I buy you a cup of a coffee?”
“Yes. I mean no. I am so late. I have to get to the subway.”
“Can I drive you? My car is right here. I saw what happened and pulled over.”
“What? You drive in the city?”
“That is your response?”
“No, my response is that you are a complete stranger. And regardless of your good deed, I don’t even know you. You could be a crazy killer or some New York stalker.”
“See you are a creep. You would have drugged my coffee or something like that and next thing you know my body would be found in New Jersey. Have a good day.” Camilla collected herself and ran off towards the subway. The subway car was full, Camilla gripped tightly to one of the bars, as she was jostled back and forth. Murmuring under her breath, “I am totally going to get fired. I’m not even going to be warm or prepared. I left my headphones on my desk. I don’t even know if I brought clean tights.”
The whistling of the subway car gliding on the tracks came to a screeching halt. Camilla’s head whiplashed forward slamming into the bar. “FUCK. CAN I NOT CATCH BREAK?!”
Everyone in the car looked at her. Most of them were business men heading towards the center. Most of them looked shocked. “Are you okay mam.”
“I’m not a mam.”
“Unfortunately, there is a problem up ahead with another car. We apologize for the delay.” The car sighed and moaned. After the initial shock, most of the passengers went back to their reading, texting and daily habits. One guy spilled his coffee on another and was pulling out cash to pay for the dry cleaning. Another man straightened out his newspaper and began reading again. The woman sitting in the handicap seat started knitting her fuchsia scarf again and humming in a low tone. Camilla looked around. For the first time in a long time, she had no focus. Her mind was racing. She set her dance bag down and pulled out her brush and container of pins. Camilla slowly twisted up her hair and started to pin, her eyes darting back and forth between her car companions. Making sure no one was judging her. On the defensive, she began to do her makeup, her eyes daring in the mirror of her compact. The subway started to move again, slowly. When it finally got to her stop she was already an hour late. Hurrying across the plaza towards the studios, her heart began to race even more.
She walked into the large eight-story, white building and showed her work badge. Waiting for the elevators nerves started to sink in. The elevator ride seemed extremely slow, going up to the fourth floor. “Good morning Camilla, is everything okay?” Nancy the receptionist greeted Camilla.
“Morning Nancy. Things are just great,” rolling her eyes and sarcasm dripping from every syllable, She clocked in and went to the rehearsal boards. She scanned thoroughly to see if anything drastic had changed. Nothing seemed different. No studio rehearsals. Just theatre block and tech again. She walked through the maze of hallways of New York Ballet Theatre and made her way to the bridge. The bridge connected the studios to the theatre. Taking the elevator down to the dressing rooms, she could hear the girls laughing and going about their business. Paranoia sank in. As the elevator doors opened she could see the corps de ballet girls shuffling in and out of the dressing rooms. “Hey, Camilla. Heard about your family, hope everything is ok.”
“Are you ok? Hope your family is hanging in there.”
She shrugged and walked faster. Throwing open the door to the dressing room and sitting at her station she began to unpack, “What did you tell them, Daria?”
“We said you had a death in the family. Your family dog that you loved and had since you were ten.”
“I’m allergic to dogs.”
“Well, then you won’t miss him that much. But everyone bought it.”
“Thanks for nothing. You could have woken me up.”
“You are a grown woman Camilla. It isn’t my fault you drank half the bar.”
“Never again. I’m never going out with you again.”
“Don’t say never. I take that as a challenge.”
“Shut up Daria. Where is Francis?”
“Oh, Francis… Reed asked to see her after company class,” Daria became serious. Camilla moved slower, “Did he sound mad? Or say what it was about?”
“No. He just walked into the studio somewhere between adagio and frappes and asked to speak with her right after company class.”
Camilla paused from her routine, “I didn’t see any casting change ups. So it couldn’t be that serious.”
“Sure? Not serious. Talk with the artistic director three days before we open Swan Lake. That isn’t serious at all because he has so many better things to be doing,” Amelia joined in the conversation. Her long brown hair swayed back and forth. “You were the one who even said she was getting fat, and she’s your friend and roommate.”
“Look. Don’t test my patience today,” Camilla’s mousey sharp voice clipped at Amelia. The other corps girls started to laugh, “Lighten up Camilla, you should be thankful that Francis is on the chopping block and not you.”
“Yeah be thankful he’s still focused on Francis’s weight and not your absence due to your hypothetical dog dying.”
“Sure, I guess,” Camilla mumbled.
Alone in her dressing room, Yvette looked at herself in the mirror. Her slender body, every muscle defined and her rib cage pushing from under her skin. Yvette has been a standing principal ballerina for over ten years and had been the company’s prima ballerina for the past five. Constantly having to be on top of her game she had been pushing herself day after day. Her reputation was one that she was a stuck-up, narcissistic, ice queen and that she was demanding and difficult. Some say that Yvette was born for ballet, that it was in her blood and destined to be a leading lady of ballet; some girls are lucky like that.
Her blond hair was slightly receding from all of the years being pulled back into a bun, and her skin needed a good dose of sunshine. Yvette’s stringy fingers stroked her makeup brushes that stayed lined up precisely at all times. Her eyes grazed over the palettes of makeup, bobby pins and various hair pieces.
Knock. Knock. The door swung open as a dresser from the costume department came into her dressing room. Hanging tutus on garment racks, “We finished making the adjustments on your bodice for Swan Lake. If you lose any more weight there will be nothing left of the costume or you,” jokingly Theresa laughed. Yvette smiled back through the mirror.
“You know, you shouldn’t let the pressure get to you,” Theresa’s hand lightly touched Yvette’s cold shoulder.
“It doesn’t,” her voice matched her body temperature.
“Are you sure about that? I’ve been here a long time, and I have seen five beautiful principal dancers come and go. And each and every one of them had their way to cope with the pressure. Don’t let Reed get to you.”
Yvette’s face looked directly at Theresa’s old wrinkled face.
“So, it Reed. You know, he is just another egotistical male in ballet. Claiming to further the art, but we all know his main focus is him. You shouldn’t let it bother you.” Theresa left as Alexander was walking in shirtless.
“Are you ready for another run of this shit?”
“Of course. Are you going to remember the choreography this time?”
“You would think after as many times as I danced this crappy ballet it would retain.”
“It would kill you if you didn’t smoke so much weed? You know it reeks on you in the third act. Do you have to smoke every intermission?”
“Do you have to be lazy and make me do all the work. It wouldn’t kill you to jump now and then, would it? Oh wait, you are getting older and losing that,” Alexander knocked drying pointe shoes off of the ledge of her window and walked out.
She knew he was right; everyone knew it was time for her to go. She could barely get through a three-act ballet, and her extensions were getting lower. She knew shew as going to look ridiculous as the Swan Queen, but she didn’t have another choice. Yvette wasn’t prepared to leave ballet; she just felt like she reached a new layer of emotional depth to bring to her craft. Ashley wasn’t the only one being prepared for Odette during this run through of Swan Lake. Four other women had been rehearsing as well. Two had already performed the ballet last time it was in season.
Yvette was the oldest female in the company, and her body had started betraying her. Her joints were becoming stiffer, she was becoming slower, and fatigued. Walking towards the window, she reached her shaky hands started picking up tattered shoes. Yvette softly set them neatly back into a row up against the glass. From her window, she could see women of New York going about their days, dressed in fur coats and wool stockings. One woman was holding her daughter’s hand, and hopping into a cab; a life that she wondered if she would ever have.
“LADIES TO THE STAGE. LADIES TO THE STAGE. ALL FEMALE COMPANY MEMBERS TO THE STAGE.”
Pulling her jacket over her arms, Yvette opened her dressing room door as two dozen women started filling the hallway to the stage. “I wonder where Franny is?” Daria looked concerned. Her eyes were pacing through the hallway, “Has anyone seen Francis?” Onto the stage poured the female dancers of the New York Ballet Theatre, creating a semi-circle around Reed. His tall physique, and his elongated neck. His arms crossed tightly around his torso. “Come on ladies, pick up the pace.”
The sound of pointe shoes shuffling into place, the women stared at Reed. “I have some announcements real quick before we start tonight’s run through. First I wanted to congratulate you all as tomorrow is opening night. This has been a really hard rehearsal process, and you ladies have definitely pulled it off. Unfortunately, I do have some announcements that will affect our company immediately. Francis has had a family emergency this morning, and will not be participating in the run of Swan Lake, which means her second cast alternate and understudy will be bumped up. Please make sure you know where you stand and all of your music queues. Secondly, after Swan Lake, we will be having four new ladies join the company. Two as principals, and two in the corps. Finally, the opening night cast list is going to be changing, and Ashley will be doing Odette opening night. Yvette, you will be doing closing night. Clarissa, Rachelle and YungHee, your casting is still the same. Baby swans for opening night will be changing as well; I want to see Daria, Amelia, Camilla and Leta. That’s all, see you back in an hour for the top of the run through.”