The Ballerina and The Murderer
The vast dance auditorium was already half-filled with a few ballet dancers, a stern choreographer, an old janitor, a few professional musicians and the key sound manager. All of them were working along together to create the best performance except for the wispy-haired janitor who was busily vacuuming the dusty carpet leading to the stage above, including the flowing red carpet not even bothered by the show going onstage.
The venerable critics and choreographers present were mostly sitting cross-legged in a long row of chairs on the front aisle, looking up for all the details as scrutinizing as possible. They all looked equally superficial, elegant and knowledgeable about the ballet routine, watched attentively for every minute details and fixated their glances on every step made by each ballet dancer performing onstage and jolting down the all the necessary information on their clipboards. They were hired to make the performance to be as perfect as possible, artistic-wise and can garner better media coverage as a crucial representation of French ballet to the artistic community from all around the globe.
It’s been announced that the auditorium will be used to showcase one of the greatest ballet show which will be attended by the art connoisseurs, critics, press and even the President so it would be a grand event which will not allow any mistake whatsoever. Right now, the present critics were either appalled by the performance or amazed by the synchronization between the male and female dancers doing their favourite thing which include parading beauty, poise and elegance embroiled into once. The vacuum sound was droning rather irritatingly but it’s negligible as the sound system was working perfectly, complementing the dance with an extraordinary feeling of awe and aspiration.
The head choreographer was the middle-aged guy with a pointy nose, sitting next to the theatre house owner, who is whispering and exchanging a few words of encouragements with each other. The soothing, classical music adapted from Bach complimented the entire symphonious dance routine, gracefully performed by the seemingly light ballerinas moving in such unparalleled poise and indisputable elegance while accompanied by the well-toned physique of the male ballet dancers completing the recital. The choreographer showed no expression of satisfaction on the routine, perhaps expecting for nothing but the best.
French really, really loved their art, and they worshipped their art as their soul and the living breath of every performance was rather sanctimonious and need to be enjoyed with absolute appreciation. Thus, every performance will be taken seriously, whether it will be remembered and reviewed as the best or the other way round.
The lead ballerina for the grand show that will be held next week was a 19 year-old prodigy Estelle Delacroix who had been dancing ballet since she was five, vigorously trained by her own mother Madame Edith since she was five. The mother was once also a legendary French ballerina and they had always been supportive towards each other since Estelle’s father died from meningitis when she was three.
Estelle was born as a pure French girl and Madame Edith is very proud of her daughter’s supreme excellence, rivalling even her own career spanning for almost three decade on the limelight.
The head choreographer was her mother’s best friend, named Monsieur Yves and he had transformed her into a worldwide phenomenon as an ostentatious ballerina. Estelle was an approved as the second-coming-of-perfection as a ballerina, she was tall and slender, with flawless beauty, flowing dark brown hair and serene green eyes. She had the best line coordination and postures in dancing, which is very proportionate and elegant as a dancer. She had been a superstar at her own rights, with constant publicity by the French media and hailed as a symbol of youth and ethereal beauty. Today, she arrived back at her favourite Rue du Pompidou theatre in Vincennes after a few weeks on a tour show at the world-renowned Russian Academy of Performing Ballet in St. Petersburg which made her as quite a regal statement among girls her age, of diligence, poise and freedom.
“Pouvez-tu m’aider? Plus vitement, Dominic! Is she too advanced for you, eh? Is that your problem now? Then what’s your real problem? Answer me! I’m so fed up with your ignorance. Do you want this job or not? Need I remind you that I can easily find a more reliable substitute for you?” yelled the burly Monsieur Yves all the way from the seating lane along with the other hired critics, facing the performing stage, his booming voice was loud and precise.
“Je suis désolée, monsieur. I’m quite slow with the new routine, but I’m still learning. Seriously, I really want this job more than ever, Monsieur Yves. I don’t want to put the blame on Estelle or anything but she’s really fast for me to catch up! I promise you that I’ll try harder, so please don’t sack me yet.” From the centre of the stage, the desperate plea made by the handsome German guy who is the ballet partner of Estelle could be heard. The rest of the troupe could only watch in disdain, hoping that he won’t be sacked because he’s one of the best straight from the academy.
Actually, Dominic had been a bit tad out of sorts since his painful breakup with his girlfriend last week (claimed due to his passion for baller over her) and he’s feeling a growing pressure whether to continue the show with her or not. He sat and slumped his head onto his knees, arms wrapped in despair around his thighs on the stage so Estelle came slowly to coax him by massaging his shoulders from the tension away. She had always been very responsible towards her ballet partners, both emotionally and psychologically. Then, she moved out to the front end of the stage, hands crossed as if begging and pleading for Monsieur Yves not to fire Dominic from the production.
“S’il te plait, monsieur. You have always been a brilliant choreographer for me but today, I’ve to insist you not to fire him. I’ll make sure that he’ll be performing up to your standard, perhaps sooner than you expected as long as you give him one more chance. I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience that I’ve caused. The problem here is caused by me, so I’ll try to be less advanced for him to catch up. Please, I wish that you may reconsider. I worked along so well with Dominic here. So, why don’t we just start all over again? Present the music please, from the top! Merci beaucoup!”
Estelle was behaving like a true professional as always, then she smiled at the audiences with a bow and gracefully continued her charismatic twirl using her ballet pointe shoes, and jumped towards him, and expectedly she fall down because he was still too preoccupied with his emotions to even grab her correctly. The accompanying music immediately stopped with a loud thud from her knees and shoulders dropped onto the stage. Estelle stood up elegantly; as the continuing harmony in the background uplifted her relentless spirit and passion for the dance as she patted the crumpled tutu dress and regained back her straight shoulder composure at light speed, not cursing the pain in her knees at all as she bowed at him.
“I’m okay, I’m all right. No worries, Maman. It’s just a little scratch. There’s nothing serious. Dominic dear, listen to me! I put my trust on you and I don’t want you to get fired so please have a little faith in yourself! Grow some backbone, for Christ’s sake! Prove him wrong then! You got it in you. I know you do so just let it be free. One more time now, d’accord?”
Monsieur Yves started to lose confidence on Dominic, wrapped his arms around his body in pure contempt, he flipped open his Sony Ericsson cellphone, dialling a number as if calling for the talent agency to find him another partner for Estelle. She gave Dominic a nod as a cue for him to be aware of her jump before she tried once again and thankfully, it worked out well after all. He could finally catch her from falling disgracefully and thus, their trust builds up stronger. He just need a little encouragement from someone and obviously, less pressure from the demeaning experts who demands nothing but perfection. She took pity on him as he struggled his best to maintain the newfound confidence. He thanked her and promised to her that he’ll train super hard to catch up with her level of expertise. She hugged him with a laugh and she’s glad that she could help out, rubbing her knees a little from the sudden friction due to the fall.
Monsieur Yves laughed with satisfaction for the first time that day and gave a standing ovation for Estelle’s determination to support Dominic, her partner. He had always been impressed by Estelle professionalism that he quickly showered Madame Edith who’s sitting to his left with so much felicitations on raising a true genius.
However, Madame Edith was utterly flabbergasted with the fall and stood boldly in her mink fur coat, screaming her lungs out and spewing out curses at the innocent young man. She was overreacting as usual, but her maternal instinct is understandable when Estelle is involved.
“C’est très terrible! This is unacceptable, Yves. I won’t allow that incompetent jeun homme to be my daughter’s ballet partner! Find another substitute by tomorrow or I’ll never sign any more contracts with you, ever again. Estelle, you don’t have to be so nice towards losers. They would do nothing but pulling you down. I thought that I’ve taught you enough on being a true champion. We don’t look back and blame ourselves for flaws made by others! I’m off with this ridiculous parade of incompetency! Come along, Cher. I don’t want to waste my time here any longer.”
Then, after she threw her diva comments at the stage, she went outside dragging her Hermes Kelly bag and patting her adorable Chihuahua puppy along with her on her arm, which had awaken to bark fiercely after sensing its master growling in fury. She knew that her daughter is the best product of all the hard work and sacrifices she made for all these years, and Estelle deserved nothing less than dignified, superficial care. Estelle moved forward centre stage gracefully, and bellowed with her soprano voice trying to stop her mother.
“Maman, n’inquétès pas! Worry not, I’m exceptionally fine practicing with him. Please don’t be too scrutinizing upon him, s’il te plait?” the other ballerinas are continuing their routine in such synchronized manner, trusting in each other to perform their best with Estelle as the lead dancer. The stylish mother cared nonetheless, perhaps too irritated by her reply that she continued her way straight out of the auditorium.
The rehearsal ended about half past noon, and all the present critics left earlier for some sponsored refreshments including croissant, quiche and gateaux at the nearby café across the street. The dancers usually eat much less than other members of the show because beauty and fitness doesn’t come easily as losing yourself with a simple indulgence in chocolat gateaux. Estelle tied her hair in a striking red ponytail, and she changed into a pink Yves Saint Laurent babydoll dress bought by her Maman in a trendy fashion store at Boulevard de Rochechouart last week which uplifts her flawless beauté. Her other ballet friends had already went their own ways, taking taxis, the TGV, buses or went back home by their cars. She is still struggling to take off her pointe shoes which seems tighter out of a sudden, so she tried her best to pull them slowly from her feet and steadily, not to hurt her priceless feet. Therefore, she could replace them with an equally stunning red Dior pumps. After a few minutes, she finally succeeded in pulling off the pointe shoes and breathed hard from the effort.
She thought she could relax more after the rehearsal, and spend some alone time to ease the tension.
Dominic had already whisked back to his single flat but before he moved out of the door, he kissed her goodbye on both her cheeks and showering her with kind words of admiration for sticking up for him just now and he left her inside the changing room all alone. She felt blessed that she was given this gift of pleasing other people and relationships are the best to be kept once you’re ready for tolerance, advised her mother. She couldn’t drive and her Maman had left back to her usual appointment with the hairstylist in Ile St. Louis.
So, she knew that she had to take a taxi, perhaps spend some time off going window-shopping for a while in Plaza du Mazagrand or St. Germain and maybe, if she got more time she could watch the latest French movie before going back home. She was examining herself on the large dressing boudoir, still sitting and her face was supple and healthy as always and she giggled at herself for being quite silly to think that she might fall in love with herself. Suddenly, without much warning the old janitor came into the room carrying the same, roaring vacuum cleaner that had served him for a few years and he looks quite ancient with his wispy, unruly white hair and aging lines on every corner of his face. Still, he could manage to remain sturdy for all the strenuous work of keeping the entire theatre neat and tidy as he had hired for. This arouse a complete adoration and respect from Estelle as she saw him standing at the door, looking quite alarmed and lowered his gaze to the floor.
“Pardonnez-moi, mademoiselle. I really thought that everyone had already left the room. I’ll move out out now if you wish to stay by yourself. I should never have entered without permission from such lovely young lady such as yourself, so pardon me again.”
He is a really nice, polite old man, who would respect anyone with his kind, innocent approach especially towards Estelle. She knew that he had been working for Monsieur Yves for more than five years now and the fact is that she had never seen the old man with any of his children, nor his wife for that matter so she felt very sympathetic for him.
She gave her brightest smile which seems to calm him down a bit and she stood tall away from the make-up table after changing her pumps. At times, she would have a brief casual conversation with him and yet, he still treats her as his superior and with such utmost respect which made her feel more and more like her demanding mother.
Nobody knew or cared about his name, his life or even his current condition as much as Estelle, because she enjoyed his company very much and she knew that she would never get a more honest, trustworthy friend like Monsieur Henri the janitor. She slowly moved closer towards him and put her hands lightly on his shoulders, looking at him straight on the eyes in order to voice out her opinion about him being so degrading towards himself.
“Never mind that, monsieur Henri. You don’t have to worry about intruding at all. Actually, I would love a little company when I’m finishing up with the maquillage. The others had gone back already, so it’s fine. It could take a while for the white masque to be fully cleansed from my face here, you see.
En plus, felicitations for all those tremendous efforts of yours, monsieur Henri. You always know how to make this theatre so pristinely clean, I always thought of it as my second home. I really appreciate your hard work. And the last thing that you should say is sorry. I’m nobody important, really. So I really hope that you can treat me like your own daughter. S’il vous plait, monsieur Henri?” The janitor quickly understood and nodded at her in understanding, hunching his shoulders less than before to show that he’s relieved. Estelle wasn’t angry at him, not at all for his sudden entry.
She turned her back to wipe off the remaining powder from her face using her silky handkerchief and bowed at him before she said that she wanted to leave. She waved him good bye and started to bring her trendy purse along towards the door passing him, but her arm is suddenly pulled by the janitor yet it was not too firm. She was pretty much startled herself but it wasn’t too hurtful for her wrist so she stopped to face him, arms crossed and wondering about his real intention for pulling her arm.