Sharlene's Ballet Dreams
Sharlene the Pink Quiggle arrived at the theater approximately an hour and a half before call time. She inhaled sharply, she could feel her heart beating out of her chest. She had pre-audition nerves and memories of last year’s audition exacerbated them. She sighed thinking about it. At least she knew she looked the part, her golden hair was in an intricate weave of braids that led into a bun on the top of her head, sparkles graced she sides of her eyes. Sharlene’s outfit was the perfect mix of simplicity and ballet-chic; she wore her purple Ballet Leotard with a perfectly matching Tutu and her favorite Ballet Slippers. She could not look more like the Ballerina Quiguki if she tried, and she had tried.
“Dress the part, feel the part, become the part”, she whispered to herself.
This was not her first time auditioning for the Neopian Ballet Company. Last year was a complete disaster! Sharlene showed up barefoot in a simple orange dress, with her hair in a loose pony-tail. At the time, she thought it was perfect, she felt elegant, and comfortable. She arrived five minutes before the audition began, leaving her only a few moments to put down her bag and fill out the forms needed. As she peered around the room she a rainbow of colors, they were beautiful costumes upon elegant dancers leaping and turning across the stage. They all had their hair in twists, and buns, with shimmering makeup. She had stared at them all stunned. They were beautiful and they danced even better. It made her nervous, she was certainly underprepared.
Sharlene had stood next to a tall Lenny wearing the most beautiful ballet slippers, they were rainbow and covered with sparkles. Sharlene had watched as the Lenny bounced around the room like she was floating on air, she curled, twirled and leaped in a precise and dainty manner. Sharlene could barely remember the combinations she was supposed to do, surely, she looked a lot less elegant standing next to this wonderfully-talented Lenny. Sharlene bumbled and fell, and cried when she was cut after the first round. She felt defeated, but as she was leaving the Lenny came up to her and gave her a warm smile,
“I hope to see you back again next year, you did great, work on your technique and I’m sure you’ll be ready to join the company next year” she said sweetly.
“But how do you know?” Sharlene groaned, “I will never be as good as you”
The Lenny laughed “I’ve been training for ten years now, I’ve been in your shoes before. I had to audition three times before they let me into the ensemble, these days I’m playing the part of the Queen Faerie in the annual show!”.
Sharlene was in awe, she was in the presence of a star, and she knew it. She felt even more embarrassed about her performance. Sharlene thanked her new friend for the encouragement and ran home, she looked up ballet studios and enrolled in as many classes as she could. Sharlene had worked hard all year and was the best in her classes, now she hoped that this year she could be allowed to dance alongside her graceful and kind Lenny friend as a peer.
Sharlene looked around the empty theater, it was beautiful, adorned with antiqued red velvet cushions and golden accents. This is where fantasies are played out and faerie-tales are performed. All of her dreams could come true on this stage. She inhaled and smelled the smell of the theater, it smelled like stale makeup and hairspray, but also like magic. She sat down and started stretching out her legs. She was anxious, both excited and nervous. Sharlene knew she had new talents and tricks to show, but she was nervous it still would not be good enough. She stretched deeper into a split and noticed a few other Neopians trickling in. They were dressed similar to Sharlene with their hair tight upon their head. Sharlene knew some of the girls from her class and stood up to wish them luck. All of the girls were nervous, but at least they had each other for support. Not all of them would make it through, but they hoped at least one of them would. They giggled to each other and talked about coming to every show to cheer each other on, each girl hoped they would be the one on stage with the others to bring them flowers, but only time could tell. They practiced their leaps and turns together, critiquing each other and hoping the combination they would be taught would not be too hard to remember. The stage filled up with other audition hopefuls, each addition eyeing up the competition, seeing who had the highest jumps, the fastest turns, and the most limber legs.
After some time, the theater doors flew open and in walked three very important looking Neopians – the casting directors. The leader of this pack was the director of the Neopian Ballet Company, Mr. Bailaria, a Gold Elephante, he wore a top hat and spectacle, with his mustache perfectly quaffed. He was known to be kind, but stern and ruthless when it came to picking his members. Following him was the choreographer, Miss Limona, a Royal Pheophin, she had been the Prima ballerina in her day, she danced for all the Kings and Queens of Neopian, and was known to be a favorite of Fyora herself. Finally, was a short Mynci simply known as Sir. Sir was the executive business administrator, all finances went through him and all business decisions went through him, including casting. He was mysterious as no one ever heard him talk, except those he worked closely with. The Neopians on stage perked up when they saw them, and all seemed to smile a little wider. Luckily, the casting directors seemed cheery as they sat behind their table in the front row.
Without a word needing to be said, all of the auditionees lined up in front of their table to fill out their paperwork, and to pay their respects to the casters. With a deep curtsy, Sharlene introduced herself, only remembering to breathe after she had walked away. She already felt dizzy. As she walked back onto the stage she noticed that the pianist was set up, which meant the audition would begin soon. She did a couple more jumps to warm up her feet and checked her hair in her little mirror one last time.
Sharlene got into her place, standing in the front and center of the stage, a much sought after place to be, but she did arrive first. Her friends spanned the stage next to her, all quiet as they mentally prepared. She promised herself to leave everything on the dance floor and to give this audition her all, she wanted to make sure she had no regrets. She inhaled deeply, she wanted this so bad, she wanted to prance around on that stage, even if it was just the ensemble. One day she would be a prima ballerina, she just needed a break, she wanted to get into the company and start her journey.
Mr. Bailaria stood, and everyone went silent. He explained that it was time to start the audition, it would last approximately two hours with three rounds of cuts.
“There are 142 of you here today, we have spots for maybe 50 of you, it will be a hard audition and only the best of the best will be chosen, I wish you all the best of luck”, his voice boomed through the theater. “At the piano is Mrs. Fruggles she will set the tempo for all of the dances. Beside me sits Miss Limona, she is one of the best dancers Neopia has ever seen, and you should all be honored that she is here to teach you combinations, she will help me hand pick the newest dancers for the company. Sir is here for that purpose as well”, he coughs and begins again, “As you may know, every year our ballerinas and other dancers must re-audition to keep their spots, among you are about 20 returning company members. You may have noticed this lovely lady on the other side of me, for those of you that do not know this is Isabel, she is our current prima ballerina and therefore exempt from the audition. She will also be helping choose the new cast. Thank you all and now we shall begin”.
Sharlene did not even notice the tall beautiful Lenny on the other side of Mr. Bailaria, it was her friend from last year! She beamed a smile at Isabel, and Isabel winked back. Happiness shot through Sharlene, Isabel watching on gave her a new-found confidence. She thought of the kind words she had given her last year, she hadn’t even known her name.
Miss Limona stepped gracefully onto the stage and began to count out the moves of the first combination, Sharlene and the others mimicked her movements. It was time. The pianist plinked out the melody, all ears were focused on the “5,6,7,8” to be shouted from Miss Limona indicating that they were to begin. Sharlene exhaled deeply and put on her biggest smile. This was it. The stage lights were blinding, and her outfit was beginning to itch but she had never felt readier.