Monday, April 23, 2018

Upheaval: Day 7

Word Count: 42,022

Summary of Events:
As ordered by Mr. Chekov, Leon looked around for a hairdresser, but found — as he'd expected — that there were none open on Sundays, so he went to the theatre early to get a haircut from the hairstylist. He was then garbed as a clown for the night's performance and immediately assumed himself to be the puppet clown Petrushka from the early-1900s ballet. After his performance — where he, once again, was the only one to dance without falling — Leon was taken to see Mr. Chekov again . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"You certainly have all the looseness of a rag doll," Mr. Chekov said.
Leon said nothing.
"We might have to revive Petrushka for you to dance it," Mr. Chekov said. "You certainly seemed to enjoy the role."
Still Leon said nothing; he wasn't really sure what he was supposed to say anyways.
"You overdid yourself, however," Mr. Chekov said.
"How?" Leon asked.
"You are to do exactly as I tell you," Mr. Chekov replied. "And I did not tell you to do a cartwheel. Your flopping about after the dance was over was also more than was necessary. I do not deny your excellence as Petrushka, but I saw enough of it in your dance. You overstepped your bounds."
"All of this is to say that I am disqualified then?" Leon asked.
"Нет," Mr. Chekov replied. "It means you have been warned."
"What of Yuri?" Leon asked.
"What of him?" Mr. Chekov asked.
"He drove me off the stage and took me to a different dressing room where he slapped me," Leon replied. "Was that because I overstepped my bounds?"
"Yuri is not a man of patience," Mr. Chekov replied. "Years of dancing for the humourless has made him humourless."
"What does that mean?" Leon asked.
"We teachers at the Bolshoi do not have patience for selfish antics such as you did onstage after the dance was over, and even during the dance in flopping about," Mr. Chekov replied. "He now has no tolerance for such selfish antics, having himself learned that they are unnecessary, frivolous, and, above all, incredibly selfish."
"I was dancing in the character," Leon protested.
"I did not tell you to dance as Petrushka," Mr. Chekov said. "I told you to dance in the costume of a clown."
"But I was dancing to music from Petrushka," Leon replied. "Just as I was dancing to the music of the Nutcracker while similarly arrayed last night, and as Prince Albrecht from Gisele the night before."
"Hm," Mr. Chekov said. "You are making suppositions. There was no intentionality in any of it. You will dance as a normal dancer whatever costume you happen to be in."
"Then why did you say I enjoyed the role of Petrushka?" Leon asked. "First you compliment me, then you condemn me. How am I to please you?"
"By departing," Mr. Chekov replied.
"I am not allowed to come back and dance?" Leon asked.
"You are allowed," Mr. Chekov replied. "In fact, to not return would result in immediate disqualification. I merely mean that you are to leave for tonight, that is what will please me."
"You are avoiding my question," Leon snapped.
"Good night Артемий," Mr. Chekov replied.

Pronunciation:
Petrushka: pehtrooshkah
Нет: kneeeht

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Upheaval: Day 6

Word Count: 36,066

Summary of Events:
Leon ended up being the only dancer out of 280 to complete his dance without stumbling and falling on the first night of the competition. The following afternoon he found out that the competition had become the sensation of the ballet world because nobody understood why it was going on — although few had made the connection between Leon and his grandmother. In the second night of the competition Leon again was the only dancer to complete his dance without stumbling, although it was a tiring dance after which he was granted a shower . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
Gratefully Leon accepted the bathrobe that felt like it'd been made out of towels from the man and then followed the man, but not back to his dressing room as he'd expected; instead they ended up in Mr. Chekov's office.
"Thank you Юрий," Mr. Chekov said to the man, who promptly departed.
Leon wondered if he could find a way to look up all the men named Yuri who danced for the Bolshoi currently and see if this Yuri was one of them.
"Congratulations on your performance tonight Артемий," Mr. Chekov said.
"Спасибо," Leon replied.
"I underestimated you, I must say," Mr. Chekov said. "I am sure that it is mostly Валентина's blood that courses through your veins. Her smile is wider tonight."
Leon nodded.
"On behalf of Анжелина, however, I must inform you that your hair is unsuitably long for what the contest requires," Mr. Chekov said. "You must get a haircut before the competition tomorrow or you will be disqualified."
"What sort of haircut?" Leon asked.
Mr. Chekov opened a drawer in his desk and held out a photograph to Leon. It showed a young man who looked vaguely familiar. His hair was decently long at the top, but trimmed short to the sides and the back."
"Keep it and show the hairdresser," Mr. Chekov said.
Leon nodded. "Is that all?"
"Go get dressed, then you will wait for Полина," Mr. Chekov said.
"No I won't," Leon replied. "I'm not riding with her. I'd rather take transit than ride with her."
Mr. Chekov sighed, then opened the drawer again and drew out a transit schedule and a bus pass that had been issued for Artemi Bogomolov.
"She complained that you made her cold last night," Mr. Chekov said. "So long as you do not walk home I care not."
"What's wrong with me walking home?" Leon asked.
"Go get dressed," Mr. Chekov said.
"I asked a question," Leon replied.
"And I ignored it," Mr. Chekov replied.
Leon exhaled with annoyance. He felt like there was something going on, like all those conspiracy theorists who'd written articles about the competition between last night and this morning were on to something.
Unfortunately they didn't necessarily know the answers, and some of their suggestions had been rather hare-brained in Leon's mind, but he couldn't shake it. Something was going on with this competition, and he was pretty sure it was something to do with him.

Pronunciations:
Юрий: Yuri
Артемий: Artemi
Спасибо: spahseebow
Валенина: Valentina
Анжелина: Anzhelina
Полина: Polina

Friday, April 20, 2018

Upheaval: Day 5

Word Count: 28,058

Summary of Events:
Leon decided to go watch the first night of the competition, being as his mom didn't want him competing, only to end up identifying himself as a competitor — which it seemed they had been expecting him to do. Having put on his costume, had his hair styled, and makeup done, Leon was then taken to the stage with the other dancers — all girls — to warm up and realised for the first time that the language his mom spoke at home was Russian.

Excerpt of the Day:
"Come with me," the man said.
Leon followed him, mentally noting that the man had spoken Russian. He hoped none of the girls had noticed. He wasn't sure what he thought of the idea of them knowing he knew Russian. In this setting he might be barraged with requests for translations of everything, and he didn't know if the Russians would appreciate that.
The man led Leon to a barre at the far end of the stage, separate from the others, one that looked a little thicker and more solid, more like the makeshift wooden barre Mama had him use at home.
Standing on the other side of the barre, facing Leon, the man looked at him with a face that seemed devoid of all expression.
"Do as I do," the man said.
Leon nodded and watched the mans every move: putting the leg up which was the same as the leg the man put up, doing the pliés in the positions the man did them, keeping his arms in the positions the man did, the whole thing.
Mentally, he did his best to visualise the man as a mirror image of himself — except for the colour difference of their outfits and the fact that the man looked notably older than Leon — and he didn't hear any criticisms of his actions, which made him hope that he was doing a good job following his 'reflection'.
Once they had done a whole bunch of barre work — and hadn't done any of it in the order that Miss Corrine did it in class — the man took him to the back of the stage and looked at him with that expressionless face again.
"I do, then you do," he said.
Leon nodded and watched as the man took five light, short, controlled steps, before launching into the air and landing so lightly it was almost imperceptible that he'd made contact with the stage.
Stepping so that the man would be to his right, Leon rose onto his toes to start, only to have the man step to be directly in line with him.
He put a steel into his eye and a stiffness into his arm as he indicated to the man to move to the side. He didn't want to run the man over, knock him down, or otherwise put either one of them at risk for injury.
The man stepped aside, although he didn't look impressed that Leon was even giving him nonverbal orders.
Leon rose onto his toes again, took five light, short, controlled steps, and then launched himself into the air.
As he'd expected, he landed near-silently on the stage about a half-stride beyond the man, who turned and looked at him with incredulity and even a touch of disconcertion. Leon wanted to smile, but he didn't dare. He'd just shown up someone who likely was already in the employ of the Bolshoi.

Pronunciation:
pliés: pleeays

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Upheaval: Day 4

Word Count: 25,015

Summary of Events:
Leon woke up with a headache and took some of his mother's painkillers to get rid of it before meeting with Miss Corrine. Leon started to feel strangely tired late in their meeting and ended up collapsing and losing consciousness. When he woke up he discovered he was in the hospital because his mother's painkillers had made him sick. Due to action having been taken quickly, Leon's recovery was swift and he was back in ballet class on Monday, where Miss Corrine showed the class the poster advertising the contest, and Leon became particularly captivated by a black and white photo of a woman in the costume for Odile . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
Leon remained fixed on the picture. He knew that picture. He'd seen it before; but he couldn't, for the life of him, recall where he'd seen it, or who was in it.
"We'll work a little bit more on preparing for the competition tomorrow," Miss Corrine said, rolling up the poster again. "See you then."
All the girls filed out of the room, but Leon stayed, he had to ask Miss Corrine.
"That was alright Leon?" Miss Corrine asked.
"What was alright?" Leon asked.
"Class today," Miss Corrine replied. "It wasn't too much for you?"
"Oh, no, no it wasn't," Leon replied.
"Are you alright Leon?" Miss Corrine asked.
"That picture," Leon said. "That, the Odile."
Miss Corrine unrolled the poster to reveal it. "What about it?"
"I know that picture," Leon replied.
"I should think you would," Miss Corrine replied.
"Why?" Leon asked.
"At the time she was Valentina Kozlova, but it wasn't long before she became Valentina Bogomolova," Miss Corrine replied. "She's your grandmother."
"But we don't have the same last name," Leon said.
"Like French, German, Italian, well pretty much every language aside from English, Russian has pronounced masculine and feminine words," Miss Corrine replied. "And in Russia specifically, if not all Eastern European countries, the surnames are different between men and women. You are a man, so your are Bogomolov, your mother, technically, should be Bogomolova, just as your grandmother was Bogomolova."
"Oh," Leon said. "And that's my grandma?"
"Yes," Miss Corrine replied. "I bet you know the photo because it's at your house somewhere. Valentina told me that your mother wanted to be like her, but unfortunately she never got there, she got injured or something."
Leon nodded. "Her ankle."
"That is a shame," Miss Corrine said. "Valentina actually enrolled you here."
"How do you know?" Leon asked.
"Zinnia told me," Miss Corrine replied. "I'd met Valentina just before I left the Netherlands, that's when I was told about your mother. I have to admit, when I first became your teacher it was astonishing to think I was teaching the grandson of Valentina Bogomolova, a brilliant dancer whose career was sadly shortened by her husband's diplomatic assignment to Canada, and the fact that he wanted her to have children."
"I don't remember her," Leon said.
Miss Corrine chuckled. "Valentina was in her fifties when I met her, grey was coming into her hair, and she'd lost her dancer's figure, much like Zinnia. She probably didn't look like a dancer to you."
An image of a woman with a kind smile, a softly creased face, and blue eyes snapped into Leon's mind. "You mean this is бабушка?"
"Yes," Miss Corrine replied. "I do believe that's Russian for grandmother anyways."
"She danced for the Bolshoi?" Leon asked.
"Yes," Miss Corrine replied. "I recall reading they had a sendoff of epic proportions for her when she had to quit ballet to join her husband on his diplomatic assignment. I think your mother was young when that happened."

Pronunciations:
Odile: ohdeel
Kozlova: kohzlowvah
Bogomolova: bohgohmohlowvah
Бабушка: bahbooshkah

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Upheaval: Day 3

Word Count: 19,107

Summary of Events:
Leon got kicked out of his seat in school by one of the bullies and was sent to the principal for punching the bully in the eye; he ended up escaping punishment when the principal got distracted. At ballet class the three strangers were present again, and Leon got to find out who they were and what they were there for . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"We have a special guest today, Mr. Stanislav Chekov," Miss Corrine said. "Mr. Chekov and I danced together in the Berlin Ballet twenty– no, almost thirty years ago now. I then moved on to dance in the Netherlands before coming home."
"Да," Mr. Chekov said. "A long time ago. Berlin was the last company I danced for before I retired. But we are not here to talk about ancient history, we are here to talk about the future. Since I retired I have become a teacher at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Москва. The Bolshoi is looking for a new student of exceptional quality, the sort of quality that will turn them into a primary dancer someday, and so are visiting all the ballet schools across the world to find this dancer. In one week you will all compete to be this dancer and win a one-year scholarship to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy to get the premier dance training in the world."
"Yes Maeve?" Miss Corrine asked.
"If we only get a one-year scholarship then what happens after that year is up?" Maeve asked.
"If you are good enough, you get a contract offer to dance with the Bolshoi," Mr. Chekov replied. "If not, you are sent back home."
Leon couldn't help but reel. The Bolshoi was one of the premier ballet companies in the world and they'd come here to find their next principal dancer? Why here?
"Is this going to be a contest for all the dancers in Toronto?" Daphne asked in her subtly French-accented voice."
"Да," Mr. Chekov replied, adding a nod. "It will be held at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts."
Leon's eyes widened. The biggest theatre in the city? They would be performing at the biggest theatre in the city to win a scholarship to the best ballet company in the world?
"What will we be dancing to?" Justine asked.
"That will be decided on the day of the event," Mr. Chekov replied. "We want fairness to all students."
"So then what will we wear?" Ariel asked.
"I have already discussed that with Corrine," Mr. Chekov replied. "You will be prepared, don't worry."
Miss Corrine clapped and everyone moved over to the barre except Leon. His mind was racing. There  was to be a competition to see who was the best dancer in all of Toronto at one of Toronto's premier theatres, with the winner getting to join the premier ballet company in the world all the way off in Moscow. He could get away from Mama and her constant nit-picking. He could just dance.
"Leon Bogomolov, to the barre please," Miss Corrine's terse voice broke into his thoughts.
"I'm sorry," Leon said, quickly getting into line behind Ariel.
How was he supposed to focus now? He had the chance of a lifetime to get something he'd only ever dreamed of having: the opportunity to dance for one of the best ballet companies in the world. He could hardly believe it.

Pronunciations:
Да: dah
Москва: mohskvah
Barre: bahr

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Upheaval: Day 2

Word Count: 12,054

Summary of Events:
After his ballet class Leon was subjected to effectively doing the whole class over again for his mom, who criticised it to shreds as usual. At the next class — which was technically a pointe class, Leon just attended to be away from home longer — three strange men watched the class, which unnerved Leon, although he did what he was told and caught the girls as they jumped . . . 

Excerpt of the Day:
Lastly was Maeve, who was also a pretty good jumper and decently light on her feet; sometimes she'd add a little beat in as he lifted her off the floor, and oftentimes that would make her a little harder to hold on to. Thankfully he'd only dropped her once, and that was the first time that she'd done it.
Once the lifts were done there was no pas de deux, being as none of the girls were quite there yet — although Justine was definitely the closest — in fact, once the lifts were done the class was over.
The trio of men remained where they'd moved when the runs had started, and Miss Corrine again made no effort to introduce them. Leon let the girls all go first, he hoped to ask who they were for his curiosity's sake.
"Go on Leon," Miss Corrine said, gentle, but firm, looking at him with an expression that made it clear that he was not going to be allowed to find out who these men were and what they were doing here.
Disappointed, but not showing it, Leon left the room and slipped into his change room, which shared a wall with the studio. He put his ear against the furnace vent and listened.
"He is very tall," a man said in a voice with a thick accent. Considering he wasn't Asian or French Leon didn't know what the accent was.
"Yes," Miss Corrine said. "But he is good. Exceptional even. I consider it a rare honour to be his teacher. He has greatness in his blood."
"Very much so," the man said. "I would not think a dancer of his height would be as light on his feet, but his lankiness proves not to be a handicap to him."
The accent sounded harsh, almost like Othman's German accent, but different, more callous and brutal than Othman, who sounded more hearty and jovial when he talked; yet, for some reason, it sounded familiar.
"I feel he will revolutionise the dancing world for men," Miss Corrine said. "If he wants to."
There was no verbal response; Leon wondered if the man had just nodded or something.
"He has an incredible natural talent and ability," Miss Corrine said. "I think he will prove to the dancing world that height is by no means a disadvantage to a dancer. Tall dancers can be just as exceptional as short ones."
"You have very big dreams for him," the man said.
"I do," Miss Corrine replied.
"And your other students?" the man asked.
"They are a trial at times," Miss Corrine replied. "For many of them having grown up dancing with him they seem almost afraid of him, as if he's an alien still."
"Girls and boys, they do that," the man said. "Surely the great Corrine Swan can turn them all into fine dancers, even should they lack the natural talent."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Upheaval: Day 1

Word Count: 6,097

Summary of Events:
Leon was woken up by his mom — a proven indicator that she was in a poor mood — and got ready for school. At school the usual bullies bothered him . . . until one of them took a joke by another the wrong way, giving him an opening to escape. Finally he made it to ballet class, which he enjoyed immensely, well, aside from the pas de deux . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
Miss Corrine assigned Maeve to dance with him and reminded them of the exercise's choreography before starting the music.
Leon moved with the music as Miss Corrine had told him. Even though he'd consciously drawn a blank many a time as to what he was supposed to do, it was as if the music was fused with his subconscious and would subliminally tell him exactly what he needed to do, his body responding without him telling it to. Miss Corrine believed that he had the best muscular memory of any student she'd taught since she'd retired from dancing professionally the same year he'd started up ballet.
Maeve's movements, occasionally halting and stiff — to say the least, not half as smooth as she looked when she danced alone — out the corner of his eye were almost enough to make him stop and tell her to relax.
He managed, however, to make it through the dance without yelling at her — a restraint Miss Ophelia, his first teacher, had taught him well after he'd stopped mid-dance in his second Year-End show to get upset at one of his classmates who'd kept turning the wrong way.
Miss Corrine shook her head. "For having grown up around him you girls still treat him like an alien. Leon, again, with me."
Leon was astonished. Dance with Miss Corrine? But he'd never danced with Miss Corrine.
"Justine, the music," Miss Corrine said. "Leon."
Numbly he followed her beckoning to the starting position and put his hands in place, although he felt acutely aware that his fingers were not touching the soft cotton-and-elastic of a bodysuit, but were touching the slicker Lycra of Miss Corrine's workout-wear tank top.
As soon as the music started, however, the whole thing was gone and he was lost in the pas de deux, doing all the moves he'd done — or struggled to carry out — time and time again with a flawless ease unlike he'd ever done them before.
The whole thing was a blur until the music ended, then Leon found that he felt elated, breathless, like he'd just performed one of the premier male roles in one of the most famed ballets, and had done so at one of the renowned theatres of the world.
Applause fuelled the image: the audience hidden in the darkness somewhat enforced by a large spotlight shining on him lavishing appreciation.
"That is what dancing with someone looks like," Miss Corrine's frustration-edged voice jolted Leon fully back into the classroom where his classmates were all looking meekly at their teacher, who stood in front of him, hands on her hips. "Prima ballerinas are not just soloists, they are well-rounded dancers who must be able to move with someone as fluidly as if they were one!"

Pronunciation:
pas de deux: pah deh duh