Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2276001-Success-Unboud-ch-1-3
by Kris
Rated: E · Short Story · Arts · #2276001
Elias is a dancer. He's worked his entire life to be the star he knows he deserves to be.
CHAPTER 1: The Dancer

He knew things didn’t last. He’d experienced innumerable disappointments throughout his lifetime, and this was just one more to add to the list.

‘You’re blinded from reality’, she had said. As they all did. All everyone said was the same. People seemed to think shouting and screaming would open his eyes, (once and for all, they’d mumble) but none of that worked. He knew better. He knew himself; they only saw what he wanted them to.

Those words were the last his girlfriend uttered in his direction before leaving for ever. It had definitely hurt, not the words themselves, but the fact that after all that time she still hadn’t grasped a thing about him.

He was an artist. A dancer. A good one at that (so people claimed). He worked as a performer in a theatre. It was a dream come true for him. He’d just got added to the main cast of a famous production and it was all he could’ve ever asked for; therefore, his girlfriend’s (now ex) words made no sense to him. No matter how much he pondered them, they seemed nothing but arbitrary.

A part of him understood where she came from. He’d spent his entire career getting injured. He was weak. He had several muscle and joints conditions which jeopardised his dance activity. He was born to be a dancer, but made to break. He was always fully aware, but he’d broken through. It had been years since his last injury, why, he’d never felt better. He was sure he was at his peak. The zenith of his career was approaching. That play would be his best, he knew. He’d make it his best.

Even with his issues, he’d managed to get that part and he was not going to waste such an opportunity. Even if it meant making it his last.

Rehearsals were every day from 7 to 10 am, and then from 6 to 9pm. It was exhausting. Presumably the hardest he’d ever had to work. But it was fulfilling, it felt worthwhile and productive, so it wasn’t difficult to keep up and stay motivated.

It was the third week. They’d been laying down the basics of the choreography, and getting to know each other (the characters needed to have some degree of chemistry in order to convey the emotions correctly).

The first performance was in a month. No one gave the nearing date much thought, their focus was solely on practicing to make the most of their capacities. Everyone was much quieter and slier than he’d imagined. They all looked simply absent minded, lost in the bodily experience of fluctuating with newly attained, foreign feelings one must learn to embody. The process of adapting to one’s character varied greatly from person to person, in his case, it was more of a thought process, in which he spent hours daydreaming, gazing at himself, locking his actual self out and accompanying the persona in. The air of professionalism in the rehearsal room never ceased to delight him. He was surrounded by the best. He had much to learn from them.

Elias Lavigne. Most would call him a prodigy. The golden boy of Grenoble, who overcame his many hardships regarding health, and ended up in Paris, as a main character of one of the most well-known productions. And at such a young age, they’d say. It was true, he’d started his dancing journey at only 16 when he got accepted into The Paris Opera Dance School, trained there for a while, and at the same time began taking small roles. It didn’t really take long for him to get noticed by the public. He was good. However, he was young and inexperienced, so the majority of the roles he got stuck him in the backroom. That is till now.

People knew he was good, but none had actually seen his full potential, and this was his chance to show them. At 20, he was finally going to dance among the best.

The day after Lavine, his now ex-girlfriend, had stormed off the way she had, yelling nonsensical (to his mind) accusations to him, claiming to know it all, he was beat. The last thing he wanted was to get out of bed, though the sloppy apartment in which he had to sleep in (dancing hadn’t gifted him much money), encouraged him to leave and get some fresh air.

It was 6, meaning that he still had an hour before running late to rehearsal. He’d habitually wake up at that time and calmly have his breakfast. Always the same. Two toasts and a cup of coffee. Any variation of that combination irritated him, but today was different, he felt miserable, and couldn’t take the overwhelming feeling of routine.

He went out for a walk and decided to have some hot cocoa at his favourite café. He frequented that particular café chiefly because of its unusual schedule, that matched his. No other cafes would be open at such an undeniably inconvenient time. Plus, the food and drinks were good, so it was nice.

‘Why, hello there, El. Quite unusual to see you here today, it’s Monday.’ spoke Mr Gabriel Bates, the owner of the café, who was familiar enough with him and his schedule to hold such a claim. It was a fact that he only ever visited his café on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The rest of the days had been reserved for his homely breakfast, with his girlfriend.

‘How’s everything, Gabriel? I’m aware of the rareness of my sight today. Something happened.’ He explained as he slowly sat down at the counter, ready to order his usual. Gabriel appeared to want to further ask him about what it was that had happened, but noticing his dreadful countenance, he assumed he wasn’t in the mood to talk.

‘Hot cocoa?’ Gabriel questioned, though knowing clearly the answer. ‘Yes, please.’

He watched as Gabriel poured the cocoa into a mug, and immediately flung it into the heater. The silence drove him to think. About all that’d occurred, what it meant. He really deeply believed that his relationship wouldn’t fail, but what could he expect, anyway. Nothing ever lasted, anyway.

‘Here you go. Careful, it’s boiling hot.’ Gabriel offered him a warm smile. He was one of Elias’ only friends. Maybe the only one. Not many people entered the café at the time he did, so they were typically alone. They’d shared countless occurrences with each other. Gabriel came from Germany, from a small, insignificant village, and Elias also came from a small village, so they had a perspective of the big city in common.

Gabriel often found himself missing his homeland, so he’d talk. He’d tell Elias all sorts of stories about his village, his country. Their chats were always fairly pleasant. Though one thing Gabriel had never told him, which piqued his curiosity, was the reason for keeping such an unusual schedule on his café. He’d actually asked once, when he started going there, but Gabriel had just said, ‘I attract a different kind of clientele, a kind which wouldn’t come in broad daylight’. It seemed to him a dangerous topic, so he stayed away ever since.

He waited a few minutes before diving into his hot cocoa. He gulped it down swiftly, not caring to stop to take a breath. Gabriel stood watching him confounded. ‘You know, that’s supposed to be drunk bit by bit, right?’ he posed comically, with a half grin.

‘I’m aware. I was just very thirsty.’ He blatantly let out. He was annoyed. Even his hot cocoa didn’t last long. He didn’t care to take his friend’s feelings into account with his response, since friendships also never lasted. He wondered, what was the point of it all, when he already knew, before even starting something, that it would inevitably and surely end. But then he thought of dance. His dance was different, it was young and immortal. Nothing could ever end it; nothing could restrain it. That was the point of it all.

‘Got it, mate. You should get some rest, you look torn.’ Gabriel was a good friend. He understood the circumstances without needing them to be made explicit, and he adapted. He gave Elias another of his reassuring smiles, and started cleaning some cups.

‘You’re correct. I should rest. I’ll take half the day off. Here’ He pulled out a couple of coins, and placed them on the counter. ‘Keep the change. See you tomorrow.’ As he stood up and walked towards the door he caught a glimpse of his friend waving goodbye, ‘Take care.’ he said.

He was moved by Gabriel’s worry; however, he wouldn’t follow his advice. He wasn't going to skip practice, regardless of his changing mood. As a matter of fact, he theorised that it would help him feel better.

It was almost quarter to 7, so he set his destination to the theatre. The café was conveniently placed near the theatre; thus, he needn’t agonise much about the time it would take him to get there. He could take a refreshing walk to clear his intrusive thoughts and ready his mind for what was to come; rehearsals took an awful lot of concentration, which could drain his mental health.

When he arrived, it was close to 7. Still a few minutes left, however, most of his fellow dancers were already there, stretching. He copied them; started to stretch each part of his body delicately. Making sure to get every joint and every muscle in its ideal state, prepared to bear what he put them through with his dance. His stretching had to be even more thorough than that of his co-workers, being so prone to injuries.

Once they were all done with their stretching method, they regrouped and started chatting; the director and choreographer wasn’t there yet, so they had some time to kill.

It was an amusing experience for him, every time he had the opportunity to speak amongst those people. He was the youngest out of them, so they treated him as more of a naïve creature, eager to learn, and with an incredible potential. But when he overheard their own conversations, it was mesmerising; the way they spoke was equivalent to the way they danced. Like graceful swans they flew from a topic to another, only touching lightly on each, enough to spark curiosity, but not to fully satiate you. The tone of their voices had a certain musicality which rang beautifully in one’s ear. A recognisable tendency amid every single one of them to elaborate each topic with an airy sense of loftiness, that could leave anyone in awe. What they said didn’t matter, but how they said it. They were dancers, they were artists, he thought.

As pretentious and superior as they may seem, they didn’t hesitate to help him out (their experience made them wiser, and great teachers), as they appreciated his growing, innate talent. Though of course, he was the main character. Many who appeared scarcely, at best had one scene with any important character, envied him. He was perfectly aware of this, in fact, he found it compelling that people should envy him. He wasn’t afraid of them, for he was strong, and he knew he deserved that jealousy. It was the proof of his success, as well as the price of it.

The performance they were preparing was none other than the ballet adaptation of Macbeth, originally a play by William Shakespeare. It was a play Elias had read, and loved. The tale of love, passion, ambition, murder. It was splendid. The moment he saw the audition, he knew he needed that part. No one else could pull it off like he would. He saw himself in Macbeth; a strong young man who fought for his goals, no matter the cost, overcoming it all. Save the tragic ending, which bounded the tale to all the other Shakespeare tragedies, it was similar to his own life story. His story which his was keenly proud of. He wanted the world to know where he’d come from.

There was a loud thud. The entrance door. The director came raging, in big strides, into the practice room where they were chattering. ‘Your first performance is in a month, less than that now, you’re wasting time. If you think you’re good enough to afford to be goofing around gossiping, you got a storm coming, ‘cause I got some bad news!’ They were left speechless. Everyone started moving and getting into their respective positions to commence the rehearsal. That was the power the director and choreographer Sergei Orlov held over the performers. The sheer terror he infused was more than enough to make the greatest dancers oblige to him, leaving them completely subdued to his every order.

He was a tall, sturdy man. Years of dancing non-stop, all around the world, had left him both immensely talented at his job as a choreographer, but also broken. He was no older than 45, but he seemed completely torn; his limbs dropped at his sides as if they were weights he had no option but to carry, which compromised his movements and slowed him down. He must have been extremely heavy, too, even though he was no longer a dancer (career wise, since he would always be a dancer at heart) and didn’t train, he was nonetheless still surprisingly toned and buff. All in all, he made for a terrifying guy, with his 190 centimetres and his 90 kilograms of pure muscle. That, plus his voice, piercing and deafening, which they never ceased to have to bear; he yelled frequently.

Aside from the dread they all felt for him, and the many headaches that stemmed from his shrieks, they were grateful to have him as director. He was a greatly talented and experienced choreographer and dancer. In his youth, he’d been one of the best. He’d come all the way from Russia, from The Moscow State Academy of Choreography, The Bolshoi Ballet Academy. He’d been first a student, afterwards a teacher, before deciding to come to Paris to continue expanding his career. They were lucky to be in his production.

CHAPTER 2 : The Union

‘Okay everyone, let's get moving. One, two, one, two.’ He clapped his hands as he counted repetitively, seeking to induce them a stress that'd make them work faster. They went to the main stage to have a full rehearsal. It had only been a couple of days since they had grounded all the choreography, but they were good. Every single dancer there was able to fully interiorise a choreography quicker than average.

Elias scurried to the centre of the stage, where he belonged, he thought. In that very instant he saw his co-star entering the room, walking over to him. He had known and worked with her for a while now, but her ever-changing beauty never ceased to absorb and mesmerise him. Every time he gazed at her; her appeal seemed to shift. Her beauty was alive, constantly evolving, taking you in. That description could only fit one person: Alina Novikov. A young Russian girl, with an astounding background learning at the best dance schools, and with a love of European culture, especially that of France, and of course Paris, the marvellous city of love, that led her there. She was often called an eccentric. She loved pleasure, whatever the form, and she chased it. With her looks, her charisma, and her outstanding abilities, she had made her way through the world of dance, landing various important parts, and attaining a growing fame. Her enchants, along with the air of coldness and elegance that never seemed to leave her every step, made her inaccessible. Someone you could look at but never touch. Even looking her way appeared to be strictly prohibited, should she stare back, and have you in her grip without you even noticing. She was aware of the attraction she caused on people, and she'd learnt to use it in her favour. She was a femme fatale, you could say.

Her charms worked the same way they did, on everyone, including Elias, however, he'd had to learn to avoid them to be able to work with her professionally. Her aura had been tough to deal with at first, but when he'd got to know her, he'd realised she was no more than a normal girl. She might've been the prettiest girl he'd ever seen (though not long ago, he used to think that of his girlfriend, mostly for the love, not just beauty), but that didn't change the fact that she was simply a 26-year-old woman. and once you got her to open up, she was quite nice to talk to. Her eccentricities showed even in plain conversations, which he found riveting. They'd grown to like each other over a couple of weeks.

She played Lady Macbeth, which meant they had multiple scenes together, and more importantly they had to have enough chemistry to portray the foul and passionate relationship between their characters. She was perfect for the role; he'd fancied the first time he'd seen her get into character. He was confident they were the perfect pair. Flawless in their convictions. He was the ambitious killer, and she was the heartless, bewitching puppeteer behind it all.

He adored dancing beside her, although, as a matter of fact, even with all the bonding they’d had and the genuine friendship they’d carefully raised, he could still not take his eyes off of her whenever she averted her gaze; and he’d feel a tinge of thrill when she’d look back. He looked up to her and enjoyed her company, yet he nonetheless dreaded the impotence she caused in him. She was an ethereal work of art; he could never change that.

She approached him with elegance, and stopped a stride away from him, smiled, 'Hi there, Elias. Do you feel ready for today's rehearsal?' Her tone was almost elegiac, as if she knew herself to be a superior being, and pitied the mere mortal who stood before her. But she at the same time, came off

as amiable and kind. It would forever baffle Elias the incapability to be disliked that woman had, at least completely; there must be something you found pleasing about her, no matter what.

'Of course, Alina. Today's rehearsal is of paramount importance, isn't it? The scene where Lady Macbeth completely transforms and twists Macbeth's ethics and quiet ambitions.' As confidently as he spoke, it was never enough. He felt himself being sucked into the black hole that was Alina.

She slowly paced towards him, to close the distance she'd initially created. 'That's right, dear. This might also be one of our hardest scenes, when it comes to both choreography and acting. The emotions expressed are quite passionate, don't you think?' She lightly placed her hand on his arm, to fully eradicate that distance. 'Yes, it's true. We better not waste any time and start rehearsing.

‘Indeed, deary.’ They called out to the director, everything was set, so they began. The way she addressed him, calling him affectionate terms such as 'sweetie' or 'dear' made him feel ever so small.

She was older than him, though not by that much. What separated them was more than just age, he was an amazing dancer, but she was the best. He was fully aware; however, he also knew that when people watched their performance, no eyes would be set on Alina Novikov, not with him next to her. He had made it his goal to attract all the attention; to avert it from going her way. He'd make the spectators not able to choose whether they wanted to look at him, or her. He'd leave them no choice.

When portraying their characters, although he was the protagonist, she was the one in control, but in their dance, it would be the other way round. Her attraction wasn't something he despised though; he loved the challenge she imposed in him. The bigger the hindrance, the more surprising the result. People would be in awe; that little boy was better than Novikov, they'd think to themselves, impressed. She was a tool he could use to further propel his fame.

The moment they began the rehearsal, and started dancing together, it seemed as though no other sight was worth seeing, if it meant missing even a single second of that. It had everyone cursing their eyes, for with every inevitable blink, they lost part of that magic unfolding and unravelling before them. Both of them were gorgeous. She fit into his arms, and connected with his body as if she had been a part of him which had been ripped apart at some point, now reunited, completing an unfinished work of art that now seemed immaculate, absolute. Nothing could detain them once they'd launched into something far from the small every day occurrences, what they created went beyond; it spoke a language no one could understand, only feel.

They waltzed along to the music, as if it was in their blood, to move that way, having a conversation between each other, and with the music itself. It made it seem as though that melody had solely been composed to enhance the beauty of their dance.

About 5 minutes later, it was over, and they were worn out. The director gave them a nod of approval, knowing that there wouldn't be any issue or trouble with their performance. They were given a short break, while others performed.

‘Well, you surely were ready, now, weren't you?' Alina said, jokingly, as she stared at him intently. He was walking beside her, 'I told you I was. You were also not that bad.' He noticed her playful and slightly sarcastic tone, so he replied with an equally mocking claim.

‘Not that bad, you say? Excuse you, your majesty, Macbeth’, She almost exclaimed, in a smug voice along with a humorous grin, 'But I'll have you know that I was not 'not that bad', I was perfect. Beyond that, even.' She ended that sentence with her head up, Elias felt like he could only see her chin (she was as tall as him). 'I know, Alina. You were perfect. And so was I. We shine like unspoilt crystals on the highest mountain, unattainable gems, when we're on stage.' His gaze averted hers, but she could sense the sudden seriousness and optimism that had risen in him, he meant every word he said, he was confident like he'd never been. 'I'm glad we see eye to eye on this regard. It would be a pity to have to savour the elevation and excellence all by myself. Her giggle added to her aroma of elegance.

They walked all the way to the practice room. There were plenty of them, but they preferred to be in each other's company, to have someone to ask for some help if given the need. Plus, they were going to take advantage of their short break to practice their next scene. All the scenes they shared were of a high difficulty (even for them) that required them to have practices in abundance. The break lasted for about 20 minutes, in which they had enough time to go over their scene a couple of times. They returned to the main hall, to the stage, and thus the magic commenced once again.

It was astounding, incomprehensible, the way every single one of their performances equalled the rest in harmony, gracefulness, and sheer beauty. Regardless of what each choreography intended to convey; they were all profoundly gorgeous. However, that wasn't all, when it came to technique and execution, they were also always outstandingly precise.

The scene they were rehearsing now consisted of the moment posterior to the assassination of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth was celebrating their atrocious victory, while Macbeth, the killer, pondered on what he'd become. The pattern repeated, of Macbeth being led by his wife, and consequently, suffering deeply, however, he could not stop it; there was nothing about it that he could convince himself to change, for he wished for it greatly. He despised the mediums, but the aims, oh, how much time he had spent, daydreaming about being king. At some point he'd forgotten about that ancient desire, but faced towards the possibility, it was raised to its peak, and with the help of his wicked woman, his dream had come to fruition, along with hers, of power. The choreography for such a scene was powerful, strong, but also weak. Macbeth was nonetheless heartbroken by the murder of his dear King. He had sought ways to reach that royalty he wanted without taking his life, but there weren't, and it had come to that. He never wanted to be a killer. She minded nothing, on the other hand. Whatever it took, whatever means to get to the end she planned would be done, she couldn't care less. She was cold and fought her own humanity to seek an absolute disregard and apathy towards even the tiniest well-intended feeling. Alina embodied that character well. It was convincing enough to make you loathe her, as much as everyone in the crowd knew that she was just portraying a character, they'd still hide a thought inside their heads, 'Just how evil can she be! That corrupted sadist.' Knowing that she could inflict such unwanted thoughts in people's minds both appalled her and filled her with rapture, how dared they? But, how could they resist her? She moved like a madwoman, in search of her prey. Like a deranged criminal unleashed into a pure world, plotting to completely ruin and corrupt it. Her evil filled her with pleasure. Elias grew scared of her at times, for she truly looked like a crazed villain. Him, contrastingly, had to interpret dire suffering. He had to be in constant pain, he'd lose his mind. Nothing could keep him sane any longer; murder after murder, it would get worse. He was strong however; he was able to battle against his thoughts and set his mind on his objective. It became a bit of a complicacy for Elias to play such a troubled character. He had to practice, trying to think of his lowest moments, those sick emotions, and brought them back for the stage.

‘Great performance, keep it up, you two. Make sure the next two choreographies are flawless for tomorrow.' Sergei could be terrifying, but when things went how he expected, and everything flowed smoothly, he was a kind guy. His constant screams seemed to go through a break period, which Elias much appreciated. 'Thank you, Mr Orlov. We'll practice tomorrow's scenes in the afternoon rehearsal, if that's alright with your schedule.' Elias went ahead and claimed that without having actually confirmed it with Alina first, being sure that she'd also want that practice.

'That's fine by me. You can take room 5; I'll be in room 3 with Lambert and Dubois will come around later. If there are any change of plans, talk to them first.' When he wasn't shrieking, Sergei actually had a serene, full voice. His way of speaking transmitted wisdom, and encouraged you to confide in him. ‘Understood, Sir.’ They left the auditorium and headed for the main entrance.

CHAPTER 3: The enemy

‘So, Julien and Arthur are coming this afternoon.’ After treading silently for a while, Elias raised the topic of those two. Julien Lambert and Arthur Dubois.

Julien Lambert was a horrible person, so thought Elias, knowing of that French boy’s ambition, comparable to his. It made for a hindrance to have such a dancer around, especially considering how good he was (as everyone else). Elias hated to have to admit it, but he envied certain aspects of Lambert’s dance. His technique was impeccable, however what kept Elias on his toes was his confidence. Elias was out-going, at most, but Lambert was an extrovert. That attention-seeking ass was so loquacious and sociable he not only had everyone in the palm of his hand, but in his dance, he was able to express a type of affable confidence which Elias could not. It enraged him; he abhorred him.

Lambert was a few years older than Elias, around Alina’s age, so he knew he had an advantage against him. Additionally, this time he’d won. He was playing Macbeth, while Lambert was playing a character who’d be murdered by his own; it was his victory.

Lambert and Arthur Dubois were one hell of a pair. Wherever Lambert went, almost unquestionably, Arthur would be tagging along, like a lost child, anxious about the scary world. Dubois seemed to be the polar opposite of Lambert’s character, which made them feel like a balanced pair. Arthur and Elias got along pretty well, in the rare times when he wasn’t with Lambert, that is.

Arthur was the closest in age to Elias, so they’d settled that as a reason to start a companionship, in which they sort of looked out for each other. They wouldn’t call each other a‘friend’, still it was reassuring to have a colleague you got on well with.

‘When was the last time they showed, I wonder.’ Alina said rather sarcastically, though with a tinge of curiosity mixed with some genuine worry.

‘As far as I’m concerned, they could be dead by now. It’s been a few days.’ Elias scuffed under his breath. He disliked Lambert to begin with, but what he did made him even more infuriated. Who gave him the right to skip practice? Did he think he was better than the rest, that he had a superior right? He’d bring them all down, at this rate. And, alas, poor Arthur. He could only imagine he had been brought (surely forcefully) into whatever scheme that wretched soul was planning.

‘You’re wrong about that, I believe, however if they keep this up, they will be dead when they meet with Mr. Orlov. You can tell he is greatly bothered by this, rightly.’ She spoke melancholically. She pitied them. They were talented dancers, but their attitude and irresponsibility would lead them nowhere.
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