Back at St Sim’s, the training for THE event of the year is getting more intense. Every year the Opera Garnier in Paris invites the two most talented dance students in France to participate in an exceptional event, and of course all the girls are trying to get a part.
‘Retiré. Un – deux – trois… Open more – hold’
Ouch, it burns… Taïga can feel how her leg starts to shiver with strain.
‘Bien Taïga. Now it’s your turn, Charlotte.’
‘Relevé… Relevé! Eveline – Relevé! Look at Taïga and follow her movements.’
Taïga has a natural grace and fluidity in her movements, like a cat… I’d love to see her dance at the Opera Garnier… And she’s my student!
‘Les filles! Ecoutez! Monsieur Lambert and Monsieur Le Riche from the Opera Garnier will assist our lesson today; I count on you to do your best to make a good impression… Allons-y. En place!’
Taïga’s stomach flutters with nerves, and she doesn’t dare look over at the two gentlemen seated next to the piano. Mademoiselle Petit is also nervous, striking the wrong note twice before getting it right!
‘Rond de jambe. Circle! Circle! … Très bien, Taïga… Adagio, Louise… Adagio!’
‘Plié – Grand battement! Temps liés! Un – deux – trois -quatre… Comme Taïga! Higher… Higher. Parfait!’
‘Straighten the leg… Sustain…’
‘Mademoiselle, je n’y arrive pas – I can’t raise my leg, I fell off a horse last Saturday…’
‘Just try, Agnès. Just try.’
‘OK. Let’s take five!’
Mademoiselle Béjart accompanies Monsieur Lambert and Monsieur Le Riche outside to discuss who should do a solo performance.
The girls rush to line up when they hear the double doors open again.
‘Bon. Monsieur Le Riche has singled out three finalists – Clotilde, Taïga and Louise.’ Mademoiselle Bèjart looks at the girls. ‘Oú est Louise?’
‘She didn’t feel well, Mademoiselle.’
‘Hurry up to get ready for your solo performances.’ Mademoiselle Béjart claps her hands. ‘Allez, allez!’
Eveline sets off to fetch Louise who is retching in the bathroom.
Louis doesn’t know the selection is still going on, so he interrupts Taïga’s solo performance.
‘Would you please get out, Monsieur Saint Clair! Maintenant!’
‘Désolé!’ Louis backs out and closes the door silently behind him. Luckily Taïga didn’t notice…
Monsieur Le Riche wants to see Taïga and Louise one last time. While Taïga is warming up, Clotilde returns.
‘So… You’re practicing… Alone?’
Taïga stops. ‘What do you want, Clotilde?’
‘Me? Nothing… But if you don’t let Louise get the part, I’ll tell everybody your Grandmother is having an affair with Monsieur Lambert!’
‘You can’t do that!?!’
‘But it’s not true!’
‘See for yourself – I texted you a little something. It’s all up to you now!’ Clotilde leaves, smiling to herself.
Taïga runs to the locker room and fishes out her phone. She stares unbelievingly at the photo…
With a heavy heart, she waits for her turn.
‘Tu es prête, Taïga?’
‘Oui, mademoiselle Béjart.’
‘Un – deux… Tendu!’
‘Tendu… Good Taïga. Now hold the position…’ Taïga is nervous, but Mademoiselle Béjart is so reassuring she almost forgets that Monsieur Le Riche is watching… and that she has to fail her performance…
‘Mademoiselle Grey?’ Monsieur le Riche interrupts, ‘Can you do some “entrechats” s’il vous plait? Entrechat-quatre starting from fifth position, right foot front…’
Taïga swallows. It’s now or never…
That night, after falling clumsily doing “entrechats”, Taïga calls Granny to tell her she didn’t get the part…
‘I’ve been looking for you everywhere! Why are you crying?’
Taïga can’t tell Louis… Or can she? No, she mustn’t hurt Granny…
Part I – End of Chapter 52