Hard to Escape Chapter 28.2

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Finally, without any distractions, I could let myself be consumed by dance. I improved at a miraculous pace. Practically every time after he finished shooting, Frank would find it hard to contain his excitement. He told me that my soul was returning to me. Every one of the muscles in my body was being reawakened.

The ensemble dance rehearsal had finally added few simple grand jetés. We practiced nonstop. Everyone's face dripped with sweat. But more often, Wu Ke and the other teachers would instruct the students who would be doing solo dances. During that time, I would watch at the sidelines.

"You can now change Hector's move into Daffelo's move. Lean your body slightly forward. Bend the knee. Arch your foot. Lift your leg. I told you to lift your leg! Don't let your arms lag behind! They're hanging by the sides of your torso like the wings of a dead chicken!" As always, Wu Ke hated the students for not achieving her high standards. Her whole face flushed in anger because of the student. "There's also the grand jeté! Can you even do a jeté?! You didn't even master the basics. There's no beauty in your jeté!"

"Then Teacher Wu, why don't you demonstrate a jeté so I can learn something!" The student raised her brow and retorted sarcastically.

Those words caused Wu Ke to pause. She suppressed her boiling anger and said nothing, her face pale. She had once been an outstanding ballet dancer. Tragically, she had severed her Achilles tendon in an accident, and because she didn't receive timely treatment, could never dance again. She could only change professions and become a ballet teacher and ch.o.r.eographer. As a teacher, she was extremely strict and brutally honest, and never doled out false praise. Thus, some students treated her almost maliciously.

Wu Ke clenched her fist. In the end, she still was a middle-aged woman, and among this crowd of high-spirited young women, her thin figure seemed all the more isolated and helpless.

I felt my anger building and finally couldn't help but blurt, "Mrs. Wu need not demonstrate. Just me will be fine. After all, I'm her student." Wu Ke's strictness and bad temper all came from the responsibility she felt towards her students as a teacher and the rigor she felt for ballet. She shouldn't have had to endure such treatment.

I walked forward to stand in front of everyone. That student started the music and goaded. "Then let's see it, Teacher Wu's disciple."

I began to dance along to the music. I had seen the jeté being done for many days, and I had practiced in secret. Thought it felt slightly unfamiliar, I had remembered each pointer Wu Ke had given that student.

As the music progressed, my nervousness and shyness faded. I embraced each scattered step. The world contained only me, only ballet and I. I leapt with synchronized arm movements. It was as if my body could define the s.p.a.ce.

And after I lost myself in the dance and finally finished, an utter silence fell. Then after a moment, Wu Ke spoke, unable to contain her excitement.

"You actually remembered it all! I've never seen a person like you!"

The other teacher was similarly amazed. "That was the entirety of act two! And the accuracy of your movements… Impossible, too unbelievable. Your grand jeté and even your mid-air split position have reached the standard of male dancers!"

"Yan Xiao, you have a good body. You really have a natural talent for ballet. This is the first time I've seen someone perform a grand jeté that looked so effortless. It's as if you didn't even need to exert any energy."

After this, Wu Ke payed more attention when I practiced, and increased the intensity and difficulty of my training. She had even given me a solo grand jeté in the recital.

However, on the day of the recital, that didn't make me any happier.

The day before, Frank had to be hospitalized because of a bad stomach flu. Even today, his fever hasn't subsided. Wu Ke, on the other hand, was busy at the scene managing the stage props.

Later, sitting in the backstage dressing room, I looked at the other girls who were surrounded by their family and friends. Each one of their loved ones had a tender, yet proud and expectant expression.

I had only myself to share in my hards.h.i.+ps.

Looking in the mirror, I briefly smiled at myself. After applying my own makeup, I rushed to the stage, prepared for a dance that would be shared by none.

Before my entrance, the curtain had just fallen on the ensemble dance and solo variations, and a wave of applause sounded. I secretly pulled aside the backstage curtain and peered at the stage below. Groups were raising fan signs in support of their friends on stage.

The music finally started, and the curtains were drawn open. The spotlight shone on me and the tip of my toes. I felt disappointed and lonely at the same time.

Not a single round of applause could be considered mine.

The audience fixed their eyes firmly on the stage. They might not be ballet aficionados, and some might not even understand ballet at all. The were only present because after my scene, their loved one would appear on stage with pride and glory.

Compared to those advanced dancers, my dance steps were simple and uncomplicated. But I hoped and prayed that at least one gaze would fall upon me, saving me from my loneliness.

My thoughts were in a jumble. The music crescendoed to a climax, and I forwent Wu Ke's ch.o.r.eography, instead dancing a leap-heavy, technical sequence from the recordings.

I put all my energy into leaping, turning, and leaping again. It was as if there were a pair of invisible hands pus.h.i.+ng me to do leaps. Finally, audible gasps and applause came from below the stage.

However, with every leap, no one knew what pressure and delirium I was experiencing in that split second I was airborne. Each landing of a leap required my toes to bear the downward force of three times my body weight. I needed to adjust my footing to the most optimal position within a very short time frame. But instead of choosing a position that would alleviate my pain, as if a reflex, my body sought to make the most graceful landing position, even if it meant having to bear more pain.

"Every step of yours must be overflow with character, music, and imagination! You are a dreamweaver. You must dance out the inner demons and delirium of people, and the truest being of who they are. You must be graceful, sly, reserved, wild, and grand. What they desire, you must fulfill. They are not here to see the pain you will endure. They are here to see you liberate your soul."

In the moment right before I landed, these words flashed into my head. It was a voice more strict and heartless than Wu Ke's.

"No one cares how much it hurts for you." That female voice sounded again, saying one last thing.

Her voice expressed a cold, resolute att.i.tude. My heart suddenly clenched. With my mind suddenly distracted, I messed up my last landing and fell heavily to the ground.

I felt a sharp pain spike down from my vertebrae to my lower back. In the moment I crumpled to the ground, I lost feeling in my limbs from the force of impact.

As expected, there was an disturbance beneath the stage. My willfulness and impulsiveness had ruined this recital.

I wanted to stand and apologize to everyone, but my muscles convulsed from the pain. I couldn't even crawl back up on my own. The audience's clamour seemed to grow more distant.  I lay wearily at the center of the stage, staring at those blinding stage lights.

In my daze, I could feel someone lift me up and kiss my forehead continuously. I had stared for too long at those lights, and my vision was still a blur. Perhaps because I had stared for too long, tears finally started to flow out from my eyes.

I tightly clutched the lapel of the person who was carrying me and began to sob.

"Sorry, sorry. I shouldn't have been so headstrong. I'm sorry." My memories were a mess. I carelessly blurted out the confused thoughts that were in my mind. The person carrying me ran their fingers through my hair, smoothing out the tangled mess. They wanted to calm me down, but I only felt worse.

"It hurts. I want to tell them it hurts."

Hard to Escape Chapter 28.2

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Hard to Escape Chapter 28.2 summary

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