Pas de Deux

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by moffnat, Oct 23, 2014.

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  1. ~Pas de Deux~
    A dance between two people; a love story.


    At the incessant screaming of his alarm clock, Russell let out a low groan and rubbed the exhaustion from his face. It seemed to take too much energy to slam his hand atop the plastic devil, silencing the reminder that Monday had come and work must resume. The music teacher slowly dragged himself from warm, thick blankets and into the cold shower that greeted him every morning.

    It was always a battle. The awful apartments where he could afford residence had limited water usage every month, and as punishment for the little money Russell made as a college professor and a musician he had to choose between waking up an hour earlier than normal for a hot shower, or suffering through cold ones should he desire to sleep in. Some days the warmth was too much to resist, but the most part Russell craved his rest. The man worked like a dog and saw little money for his efforts, and while the promise of heat in the morning was one that most would rise early for, he begrudgingly admitted to himself that the fresh cold woke him up and made him more alert. Still, it was miserable to say the least. Cold showers after five hours of sleep was not a fate he would wish on anyone.

    Once he had stripped from his pajamas, Russell stepped into the cold water, sucking in a breath and shuddering. He hated the rude awakenings as much as would be expected, but he also knew that the sooner he cleansed himself the sooner he could be dressing in warm clothes fresh from the dryer, and if that wasn't motivation he didn't know what was. Russell stepped out of the icy showers and dried himself off, unable to contain a sigh of relief at the heated clothes he dressed himself in, a simple knit turtleneck and white slacks. After a quick breakfast and an even quicker few minutes to attend to personal hygiene, Russell snatched a coat from his closet and the suitcase from his bedside table and left his humble home.

    The air outside was even colder than the water in his shower. He watched the breath from his mouth fog into the space before him, wondering briefly if people could make rings in the air like they could with smoke. Of course, Russell was foolish enough to try, warranting odd looks from those who stood beside him at various intersections and crosswalks that made up his morning route. But he knew better than to pay them any mind. His mother had told him long ago that a playful mind is a happy one, and happy minds make the world a better place. Russell had always thought it a cheesy saying at the very least, but since his mother had said it he held it dear to his heart. I should call her later, he thought as he entered the academy where he taught. I'm sure she'd like that.

    "Professor Jackson," came a soothing voice from just behind him. The music professor turned around and smiled to greet Madame Beaumont, the head ballerina of the school's dance program and professor of her area of study. He offered a hand to shake hers in amiable friendship.

    "Good morning Madame," he told her with a warm smile. "Awfully cold day, isn't it? My fingers are freezing."

    "Indeed," she laughed, "I noticed that as well. I might set up a space heater for my girls to warm up their toes before practice. I'd hate to have any of them falling off." Russell nodded his head in amused agreement, about to ask what she had approached him for until she pulled a piece of paper from her briefcase and handed it to him. It appeared to be a schedule of some sort, indicating times after school hours and various room numbers, but he couldn't make immediate sense of it. "What's this?"

    "Ballet schedule," she informed him kindly. "Our pianist for practice got in a dreadful car accident and can't be expected to return for at least six months. I would go hiring a new one but you know as well as I that the school has been suffering some budgeting issues and I'm not sure that I could find a professional willing to work for the price they've given me." The Madame met his eyes, a desperate plea waiting behind them. "Please, Mister Jackson, my girls need to practice with musical numbers before the Christmas show in December. It's only a month away, and your symphony can't be there for every practice I'm afraid. Would you mind offering your time to help? There would be a small pay in it for you, though certainly not what a man of your stature deserves, I'm sad to say."

    "Of course I'll help." Russell's answer was immediate. "I could use a little extra money, and I've always been interested to see what goes on in your end of the school. I can't do Tuesdays or Thursdays, but Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will work just fine."

    "Oh, thank you." Madame Beaumont looked near tears, and it was clear she had been stressing over the situation for days on end. "Thank you so much, professor. I look forward to seeing you at the end of the day. You can swing by my office at lunch and I'll give the sheet music to you for looking over during the break."

    "Sure." He smiled. "Room 706?"

    "706," she repeated with a nod. "Thank you again, Russell. I truly appreciate it. I owe you one."

    "Yeah, yeah," he laughed as he walked away, "just make sure to sell out the next symphony concert and we'll call it even!"
    #1 moffnat, Oct 23, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  2. "You're doing it wrong!" Svetka's classmate, Tammy, exclaimed, immediately leaving fifth position. "Straighten your legs!" The young adult, only two years younger than her, reached out to touch Svetka's thigh and kneecap, forcing herself to straighten her legs. "You shouldn't even be giving way after that accident you had over in your native country," the brown-haired girl muttered, stepping back a couple feet to assess Svetka and her posture. "Russia, you mean," Svetka panted, a large smile across her face. She could already feel beads of sweat falling gracefully down her forehead.

    "I give up! Svetka, you're pushing yourself too much!"

    Svetka laughed awkwardly, her voice tinkling clear like a crystal. Tammy heaved a long sigh of exasperation. It was frustrating. The idea of Svetka being so dedicated meant so much to everyone and their ballet instructor, but she was told to let herself relax for these next few weeks. Svetka did not think it was necessary to rest, though. The young blond-haired adult believed she was perfectly fine and the pain had gone away, so what was stopping her from continuing to demonstrate her lovely skills?

    Her classmate sent her a look of disapproval and Svetka immediately apologized for her carelessness. "I'm sorry. It's just... I was so excited to start class again... I got here early-" Svetka explained, sounding a little desperate in the situation. "-And you're already sweating like a pig," Tammy concluded, crossing her arms over her chest. "You were told to let off for a little while, to slowly get back into the basics while allowing your injury to heal. What will Madame Beaumont think when she knows you've been overexerting yourself?" Svetka's blue eyes rolled towards the back of her head as she groaned in annoyance. "Who cares what Madame Beaumont thinks?"

    Tammy felt like pulling her hair out. "We do, Svetka! I do! On an ankle that's still recovering, you'll be nothing if you continue going toward lengths not meant for your current condition!" Svetka flipped her hair, rolling her eyes once more, and scoffing bemusedly. "I think she'll be rather happy when she knows I've pawned the twists and turns before I reviewed the five positions. I don't even need help there- It's so easy!" She grinned, getting into first position, which was to put the heels together with toes pointed out and arms in an oval shape in front of her. "Then this!" Svetka shifted into second position, feet apart and arms wide, but not stretched apart. "Svetka, please," Tammy pleaded. "On your own behalf and ours... Do what's best for you."

    Jutting her chin out, Svetka, now on fourth position let out a sigh as she relaxed her muscles, then walked over to the large mirrors and picked up her water bottle from the ground. Her left ankle ached, but she ignored it. Giving Tammy a small smile, she took a swig of water, then placed it down and bounded over to her friend. "Alright, Tammy. I'll lay low for however long you and Madame Beaumont wants. Then you don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine, even if I don't star as a soloist. Maybe you or Josephine could have that role. I'd be better off in the background." Thinking she had won her friend over, Tammy gave Svetka a nod of approval. "Just lay low until our music accompaniment gets here. You can wait that long, can't you?"

  3. The day had passed as boring and effortless as most other days had. Mondays were always particularly slow for the music department. Musicians were a funny group of people, always so predictable and comical despite the dreads that Mondays often bring to college students. As such, it was hard to bring them into focus or help the group come into their cues at the right time, keep time appropriately, follow Russell's lead with the directions of his baton. It was a long day with an even longer period to listen to recordings and write notes about what was being done right and wrong within the different groups he conducted, and after the end of his final lecture on the importance of Mozart in the modern classical scene, he was ready to make the long trek home.

    Instead, he took the hour he had between jobs to stop at the local bakery and pick up a treat for himself, a chocolate-glazed doughnut with red and green sprinkles. Christmas seemed to be everywhere in the air even though Thanksgiving hadn't passed just yet. Regardless of whether or not it was right around the corner, the people of New York were relentless in their holiday spirit as they were every other year since he'd moved there. With the rigorous workouts to keep his muscular shape, Russell knew that it wouldn't be such a bad idea to pick up a Christmas doughnut on the way to room 706. After all, the holidays were in the air and he would justify his indulgence as a direct result of that.

    After he finished crossing the campus and making his way towards the departments of dance, Russell found his way to room 706 with ease. He pulled open the glass doors and finished the final bite of his chocolate treat with a smile on his face, wiping off his hands with the napkin and tossing it in the nearest trashbin. Madame Beaumont chuckled and moved gracefully across the room to greet him.

    "Professor Jackson. What a pleasure to see you again. How was your day?"

    "Fine," he replied with a small sigh. "Slow. Typical Monday." The musician looked around the room to the group of ballerinas and smiled, admiring their dedication to a physical journey that would surely leave him, or most people for that matter, in agony. As much as his manly ego refused to admit it, he had always enjoyed watching ballet, for the grace more than the women. "Don't let me interrupt your practice, ladies. I'm sorry for the intrusion."

    Russell knew he was a good looking man. He had been told so on countless occasions by plenty of people, but to be giggled at by a flock of young college ballerinas was something new entirely. He had to fight to keep the smile off his face, sitting down on the piano bench and performing a few warm-up exercises for his fingers across the keys.
    #3 moffnat, Oct 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  4. It had been hard to 'lay low' for the rest of the day until the music accompaniment. Svetka had done a few leaps and pirouettes when she was away from the dance classroom. The result was unavoidable pain in her left ankle. When she went to the café to get a small granola bar and fruit cup, instead of her usual, cobb salad, she practiced with little effort, trying to 'lay low' without overexerting herself. There was a small time during the day in which she had let a few tears slip, but quickly pushed them aside. The cruel thought and possibility of not being able to do what she loved most was taking over her career.

    Nearing the afternoon, every girl had practiced relentlessly, Svetka needing a little extra attention than others because of her post-injury. Perfect. Perfect. Wrong foot. "Ah," Svetka's leg jerked at the accidental pressure placed on her foot, lifting her knee up and grasping onto the wooden bars in front of the mirror. The young blond-haired adult was allowed a few minutes of rest and compression.

    Tammy brought around an ice pack, which helped to dull the pain a little. Svetka knew it would come back when she went back to practicing. She didn't say anything about that knowledge, though, letting Tammy know the ice pack helped very much. For the rest of the day, Tammy mostly helped Svetka through some exercises, guiding her slowly through each step in the planned performance without going over the top.

    A few hours had passed, and a little past one o'clock, the music accompaniment came around. Svetka didn't pay much attention to the man who had walked through the door, embarrassed that her colleagues couldn't stop giggling. He must be a handsome man, Svetka mused, smiling to herself, unable to hold back a small indirect giggle travel through the atmosphere. Rising from her retie of the ballet slippers, she straightened her back to turn around and cast a glance at the man who casually made his way over to the piano and sat down.

    The sound of beautiful piano melody filled Svetka's head. Even with just a few fingers pressing against the keys and a warm up, Svetka could hear nothing but a sweet, sickly rhythm running through her mind. She smiled a little, then turned around, her back facing the musician. She was ready whenever everyone else was. She'd show her skills off, let her teacher know how much she was capable of without restrictions and regulations having to do with her post-injury.

  5. "Okay," came the voice of Madame Beaumont ringing forth at the end of Russell's warmups. The ballerina instructor strutted gracefully to the front of the room and clapped her hands gently to receive everyone's immediate attention. Russell nearly outright laughed--if only such a simple trick such as that could work on band students as well, and orchestra and jazz and all the other denominations in his field of practice. Remarkably, however, the madame's gesture worked and all of her students were suddenly at attention. Russell found himself wondering if she was as scary behind closed doors as she was graceful, to warrant such obedience in college students.

    "Now, ladies," she began as she folded her hands in front of her. "You all know your roles in Swan Lake by now, I assume? You will practice each in individual rooms with yours groups and different pianists." Ah, he thought, so that was why she asked for my help. Not enough people to do the same job. "You will go to the assigned rooms and practice with your music. The listings are there on the wall--Svetka, darling, you will stay here and study with me and Professor Jackson."

    Just the three of us? It didn't take much to admit that he knew nothing about the inner workings of ballet and he supposed that each different art had it's different methods of practice, but he still found it odd that all the girls would be separated until a certain time. He questioned none of it. Russell watched the girls flock here and there to view the rooms they were assigned to on the list taped to the door, and one by one each girl left with a few goodbyes and promises to meet up after practice. He tried not to pay too much attention, keeping his hands folded in his lap until everyone had gone and only the three of them remained--himself, Madame Beaumont, and a strikingly beautiful blonde by the name of Svetka. He gave her a friendly smile before turning through the sheet music, only to give his hands something to do.

    "My dear," came the silky voice of the madame once more. "Shall we start at the beginning?"
    #5 moffnat, Oct 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  6. The small gentle clap from Madame Beaumont was enough to bring Svetka to attention, that was for sure. She folded her hands in front of her, listening in content as her ballet instructor weeded out all of the instructions every student was to follow. Svetka was a little reluctant to depart from Tammy, as she was one of her close friends aside from being a mentor during ballet when they weren't split up. Dragging her fingernails through the root of her silky blond hair down to the tips, she gave a small dispirited smile towards Tammy. She, in return, rushed back to Svetka and wrapped her arms around the petite girl's neck.

    "You'll do wonderful," she murmured. "Just don't push yourself too hard and everything will come naturally." Svetka opened her mouth to speak, but she was unable to emit the words she wished to speak, if it wasn't for one of the other girls urging Tammy desperately to get a move on. Svetka felt herself warm up in good nature, finding light within the darkness once more.

    Turning towards her instructor's voice, Svetka acknowledged her words, stepping towards the middle of the room. Her eyes roamed over the man who had entered not long ago, finally having a chance to take in a full view of what his physical image appeared to be. She had to admit, he was rather dashing. The genuine smile he gave her made her only do the same for him. It warmed her heart, making her even more determined to show what she had learned while Tammy had helped her during class.

    As he began to look through the notes, Svetka did a quick and simple run-through inside her mind of what her part would be in Swan Lake. Not Odette like she had hoped for, but rather, for her own sake, a much simpler role that wasn't one of the main characters in the play. She allowed her eyes to travel back up to Madame Beaumont.

    "Yes, Madame."

  7. Russell played the beginning of the sheet music, following nearly every musical instruction within the page and providing a positively accurate performance of what the symphony would play as the curtain rose. He didn't have much time to watch the ballerina dance--as much as he would have liked to see a sneak peak of the school's upcoming performance, he knew that she couldn't dance without his music should he stop, so he didn't dare look away. He did as he was being paid to do, stopping when the Madame asked him to do so in hopes of assisting the blonde with some step or a fluctuation of the wrist, muscles, etc. He couldn't place it if he so desired, the knowledge in his head was so limited for the art she was performing that he was nearly at a loss. But he knew the piano. He decided he would stick to that.

    "Okay," said the Madame with a heavy sigh. "I'm going to take a small break and check on the other girls. I want you to keep practicing from the beginning of act two, alright? Remember to master that last spin, but be careful with your ankle. The more you overwork it, the more likely I am to give the part to your understudy. Is that clear?"

    An ankle problem? Russell felt bad for the girl. He couldn't imagine what it must be like to play his piano with a broken wrist or a saxophone with a split lip--surely it was similar? He found himself hoping it was nothing serious. She was a beautiful dancer, from what he could tell by the small glances he had stolen from looking up from the sheet music. It would be a waste if she wouldn't be able to perform.

    "Are you alright?" Russell asked as Madame Beaumont left the room to check on the other students. "I can take a small break as well, if you'd like. I can't imagine it's easy to dance so beautifully on a wounded leg." He gestured to her ankle and offered a kind smile.
    #7 moffnat, Nov 3, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  8. As the piano began to play, Svetka turned and gracefully landed as she'd learned with Tammy's help. Every once in a while, her teacher would ask the accompaniment to stop the music. Svetka always wondered why every single time- she'd put her heart and soul into this practice. Why wasn't everything perfect like she wanted it to be? Still, Svetka did not complain about Madame Beaumont helping her situate her wrists to the correct position, help out with posture, and landing a leap.

    After some time of practice, Madame Beaumont decided to stop for the time being. Svetka listened intently on what she had to say, nodded her head in acknowledgment, and once Madame Beaumont stepped out the door, the young blonde haired adult fell back and sighed, clutching her loose gray shirt. She'd thought she'd been able to work out exactly what Tammy had helped her out with, but apparently she seemed to fall out every once in a while during the practice.

    Turning her head just enough to see his face, she offered a quick and awkward smile at his kind words. She wasn't alright. This was more frustrating than she'd ever imagined. Svetka inhaled deeply and let go, running a few fingers through her hair. "I'm fine. I suppose we should go along with that for now." It wasn't easy to dance on her ankle, that was the deep root of it all. Back in Russia, she'd gone through an intense stage of emotions in her life when she suddenly took a turn for the worst.

    That little mishap was affecting her career now and she couldn't bare to face that again. She wanted to move on. Svetka began to walk over to the far side of the room, a basic light wood chair with metal legs sitting in the corner. She approached it, leaning forward to grasp the edges, and came back around to Russell with it in her hand. Setting it down on the ground, she turned and sat down on it, as well. "I thought I had it all down," she began, blue eyes staring straight ahead of her, blinking once, twice, a third time to hide her emotional stress. "I guess I still need practice."

  9. There was a sad look in her eyes that was all too familiar. He looked at her and saw a shadow of himself, of what he used to be, of someone who was trapped in in the grips of the past and unable to let go of what could have been. It was overwhelming, to say the least. He had no short amount of care and affection in his veins to let every student on campus know of his willingness to help--oftentimes, he extended his office hours during the holiday season to accommodate for students in need of personal and mental assistance. Russell was always happy to help, yet while he had done those things so many times, somehow this one felt different. He adjusted the way he sat so he could fully face her, straddling the piano bench and resting his hands casually on his thighs.

    "You do have it down," he said then. "You danced beautifully, now it's only a matter of mastering the mistakes. That can take time when you're in a healing process." He left his definition of 'healing' open for interpretation. Mental and physical pain could equally contribute to an artist's mistakes.

    "Here, take me as an example." He pointed to himself with a little smile, though his words were filled with disturbance. "I was beaten up pretty bad when I was sixteen. Broken arm, broken rib, black eye--it took me out of playing music for nearly six months. Thought I'd never get back into it. I kept thinking to myself, 'what if I fail? What if I'm not as good as I was before?' It was crippling. I spent a lot of my time in anger, wondering what I would do next. I was nothing without music, just a weak kid with nothing to his name. My family didn't fit in much in our community, so there weren't many friends I could talk to. By the time I was healed enough to start playing, my fingers fumbled on the keys and I blew squeaks in the sax." He chuckled, running his fingers through his hair. "It was incredibly embarrassing. But I wouldn't let any of it stop me, and in the end, when my confidence was put back into place, the rest came with it. You've gotta believe in yourself, Svetka. You've gotta believe you can dance as well as you did before you got hurt, or before whatever it was happened that inhibited you from dancing for awhile. It's not easy, but you can do it." He gave her a reassuring smile. "I know it's kind of a cheesy thing to say, but it's the truth and I'm proof of it. Does any of that help at all?"
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  10. Svetka's rose-colored lips upturned a little to one side at Russell's statement. It was a little encouraging to say the least, but it didn't take away the overbearing emotional pain. Was continuously trying to perfect her skills and mistakes even helping the healing process? It didn't seem to help at all after spending many nights and years here at the academy just to get in a few practice sessions. Maybe it would be best to let go of this play and ask for a period of time in which she could relax her ankle joint, hopefully to help speed up the healing process. She was definitely thinking about it, but she'd be a hypocrite for asking. Svetka believed that she could do the play, she said for a long time that she would do this no matter how painful it was to rehearse, that she'd make it through.

    Shifting in her chair, distant blue eyes settling on the man, Svetka listened intently to Russell's story, his example of how he'd gone through the same thing as her- having something disastrous happen personally, wondering whether he'd be able to do what he loved ever again. His story was heartwrenching; Beaten up, gaining a broken arm and rib, as well as a black eye that kept him away from playing music for nearly six months. Her eyes filled with grief for him. She felt bad for him. It was crippling indeed. Pushing away a few blonde strands, she continued to be courteous, listening in on the story, more questions popping up in her mind.

    Why didn't they fit much into the community? Why was he beaten up?

    Svetka didn't dare rain down on him with pointless questions that didn't even fit into the current situation- they were quite personal, as well. She acknowledged his question, nodding a little, but didn't move her lips to answer. The young blonde-haired woman wasn't sure if it helped at all, but at the same time it was nice to know someone that had been through the same emotional state as she was currently in. "Yeah, thanks," she answered breathily, sounding a little exhausted. Maybe it was from all the emotional stress weighing down on her life, especially in these years. "I really appreciate it."
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