"The Last Spring Show"
There once was a dancer by the name of Hazel. She did all kinds of dancing; ballet, different styles of jazz, tap, hip-hop, but her most favorite was contemporary.
Her dance teacher saw great potential in her student and worked hard to help improve the skills Hazel had learned over the years.
Now in her senior year of high school, she has earned a solo for the spring show.
“Hazel! Wait up!”
I turned to see my best friend, Vanessa, making her way through the crowded halls of Waverly High School in Waverly, Illinois
I stopped and waited for her to catch up. “Hey girl! What’s up?”
“Can you drive me to dance after school?”
“Sure. I’m also giving a ride to Jiana. Her parents are out of town and have both of their cars.” Jiana was new to the studio this year. Her dad worked for some sort of insurance company, and he got transferred from Pennsylvania to Illinois this past summer. She had been dancing since she was four, and for her first three years of high school, she was at CPYB (Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet). So she was way ahead of most of us in ballet.
“Great! Thanks, I wish I could just pass my driving test! I’ve taken it three times in the past six months, and I still can’t get it.”
“You’ll get it eventually. Just keep trying. When’s the next test scheduled?”
“Next Saturday. And I’m nervous already!”
All of a sudden the bell rang for lunch, so we made our way to the cafeteria. I spotted Jiana at one of the back tables and waved. She beckoned Vanessa and me over to the table, so we worked our way through the crowded cafeteria.
“Hey guys! Want to sit with me?”
“Sure.” We sat down and pulled our lunches out of our bags. We’ve packed our own lunches since grade school, because you never know how bad the lunches they make at school are going to be.
After taking a couple of bites of cold pizza, I started a conversation. “I can’t wait till dance this afternoon! Spring show is only a month away, can you believe it?”
My friends shook their heads and Vanessa spoke up. “I’m so nervous about learning my solo tomorrow!”
Jiana nodded. “Isn’t it awesome that we all got solos? I didn’t think I would because I’m new to the studio, but I guess Miss Bailey thought I had some talent, I’m not trying to brag or anything, I was just surprised.”
I almost gagged, “Some talent?? Girl, you have more than some talent, you danced at CPYB for three years! Of course Miss Bailey would want you to have a solo, especially a pointe solo! Right Vanessa?”
She nodded her head enthusiastically. “Yeah, you’re the first pointe soloist since 2001! Not many people want pointe as their ‘minute to shine!’ I hope Miss Bailey doesn’t choreograph too hard a routine for me. I know tap is her specialty, but she always tends to go a little crazy with it!”
We laughed. A little crazy was a BIG understatement! At that moment the bell rang again signaling the end of lunch, so we hurried off to our different classes.
“Good job guys! That was wonderful! This routine is going to be a showstopper!” We laughed. “Showstopper” was the name of the song for the group number.
It was Saturday. The day devoted for the seniors. There were eight of us. Four got solos, and the other four were paired for duets. We also had the group number. The style of the group dance changes every year. This year it was hip-hop. I felt kind of bad for Jiana because her main focus is ballet, and hip-hop is like the polar opposite of ballet. But she was actually catching on pretty good. We’d had hip-hop combos a couple times during the year, but never a full routine.
“All right people, senior practice next Sunday afternoon at one. Make sure you’ll be here. Jiana you’re first for solos. Go get your pointe shoes on. Hazel, you have a two hour break. Do whatever you need to do, but make sure you are warmed up before we start. Vanessa and Kaylee, you can leave or stay. Do you know when your times are?”
“Good! Duets? I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. At two and four. Yes?”
“Yes Ma’am!” They said in unison.
She smiled. “Wonderful! All right, you are dismissed.”
We went out of the studio into the waiting room where our stuff was. Jiana, who left when Miss Bailey told her to get her shoes on, was warming up a little while she waited for everyone to get out of the studio.
“Good luck, Jiana!” I hugged her. “You’ll do great!”
She gave me a weak smile. “Thanks.” And then she entered the studio to begin her lesson.
“Man, I’ve got to hand it to Miss Bailey. She sure knows how to drive hard and be patient at the same time!” Jiana had just finished her two hour slot and was taking off her pointe shoes.
“Yeah, she’s pretty good at that! By the way, Jiana, you did awesome! And the song, I had never thought of “Guilty” being a pointe song, but Miss Bailey made every movement to match the music!” I loved watching Jiana dance she has a knack for pulling you into the routine and make you feel like you’re the one dancing. “I wish I could dance on pointe like you can!”
“Hey, I’m no genius in hip-hop!” She laughed.
Miss Bailey poked her head out the studio door. “Hazel? I’m ready when you are.”
“Coming, Miss Bailey!” I headed toward the studio door.
“Good luck, Hazel!” Jiana and Vanessa called in unison.
I laughed and walked into the studio.
“You ready for this Hazel?”
“I was born ready!”
“That’s the spirit, all right, are you all warmed up?”
“Good, then let’s get to it. So you’re going to start up-stage on stage left, facing the back with your right leg ready.”
I walked to the corner and placed my right leg behind me and waited for Miss Bailey’s instructions.
“Hold the first seven counts, then turn to your right shoulder and plie (plee-eh) on eight, three chaines (che-nays) one, two, three, four. After the last one plie onto your right leg and do two second arabesque sautés (so-tays) right, left five, six, seven, eight. Then tuck your right leg and roll to your left hip. That’s one, two, three, four, sit up on your knees and cambre (com-bray) back five six seven eight. Good, do you want to try it with music or go on?”
“Try it with music.”
“OK, let’s do it.” Miss Bailey walked over to the stereo and put my music in. When she pressed play the first notes of Britt Nicole’s “Feel the Light” flooded the room and I began to dance.
“Hazel, you made me cry!” Vanessa and Jiana were waiting outside the studio door as I walked out after my class. “Although, I’m not sure if it was you, the song, or Miss Bailey balling her eyes out. Or all three!”
“Yeah, me too!” Jiana chimed in, “I’ve always loved that song. But when someone, namely you, is dancing to it, it makes the words seem to come from the dance. Does that make any sense at all?”
Vanessa and I both nodded our heads, and I spoke up, “It makes complete and total sense!”
Kaylee, the fourth soloist, came in just then. “Did I miss Hazel’s solo?”
“Yeah, I just finished.”
“Darn. I love watching you dance. Oh well, I’ll see it soon enough.” She put her dance bag down and turned to Jiana. “How’d you do?”
“I think I did OK, but there’s so much information, my brain is swimming right now!”
“What’s so funny out here?” Miss Bailey said with mock sternness.
“Jiana just said her brain is ‘swimming’ with all the dance info she’s learned today!”
“Well that’s the whole point!” She had a twinkle in her eye. “All right Vanessa, you’re up.”
Vanessa stood up straight, clicked her heels together and saluted. “Yes Ma’am!”
She laughed. “Good practice for your routine. There’s a lot of that in it!”
As they headed into the studio, Miss Bailey turned around. “Jiana? If you’re available Monday evening, Amanda and I could use some help with the intermediate ballet class.”
“Sure, I’d be happy to help.” She acted casual, but I noticed a spark in her eyes that lit up her whole face.
“Wonderful! I’ll see you at five-o-clock on Monday.” Then she turned and walked into the studio where Vanessa was waiting.
“Did that really just happen?” Jiana asked.
“What? Miss Bailey asking you to help with the ballet class?” She nodded. “Then yes, it did just happen. Are you surprised?”
“Yes, and I’m already nervous!”
“Jiana, you’ll be fine!”
“But I’ve never assisted a class before, except the five-year-olds, but they’re easy. Intermediate ballet is a lot of Jr. High and High School aged kids!”
“OK, Ballet Assistant 101: Think of it more as a free class that’s a little below your level. You’re most likely just going to be demonstrating. That’s what I do in the basic class. If she asks you to do barre warm up, then think back to what you knew at an intermediate level. Amanda will also be there. She’s been the assistant all year, and she’ll help you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask Miss Bailey questions! As we all know, she LOVES to talk!”
“Thanks, Hazel, I guess I should stop freaking out at every little new thing that happens, or I won’t get anywhere in life!”
I smiled, “That’s what friends are for. Let’s watch Vanessa now.” We walked over to the observation window and watched our best friend learn her solo.
The spring show was a huge success, we performed at three different theatres and had A LOT of fun. After the last performance Miss Bailey hosted a party for the seniors and we cried and laughed and cried some more, and at the end of the evening we all went our separate ways with a gift from the studio. Our senior group routine photo and a five by seven group picture of the seniors in our special costumes. But the best gift was from Miss Bailey, a promise that no matter what, even if we never take another dance class in our lives, we will always be loved and welcomed by our loving and devoted teacher, Miss Bailey Taylor.
(Lesson 16 - Endings)
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