essemble

even if your not the best drummer your still a percussionist? i don’t care if you play the triangle or the quads, you are important no matter what part you are. i know snares get all the credit and fame, but your part is just as important as theirs and your director notices this even if he never comments on or praises you. you and your part is essential to the group, never forget that.

11| Pas De Deux

Pairing: Jimin x Reader
Genre: Ballet au, Romance, Angst
Warnings: None
Wordcount: 3994

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You knew it was against the rules to use one of the studios without permission, but somehow you didn’t think Madam Choi would dispute your being here – at least, if she hadn’t found out about your concussion yet. You crept down the quiet corridor. All the studios were empty. It was dinnertime, after all. You found an unlocked one near the end.

Before you went in, you let your eyes wander to the last door on the left. Where you’d peered in that day and seen the most striking, beautiful sight you had ever seen. The Park Jimin then seemed different than the one he showed now. You shook your head and launched through the other studio door, your anger and irritation brewing up again inside of you. “A first year.” He’d said it like it was a terrible thing. Like you were the very lowest of the low, like you knew nothing.

Sweet God, you would prove him wrong!

You plugged your iPod into the stereo and switched it on. Suddenly, calm, beautiful droplets of the piano came through the speaker. You took a deep breath in, your body relaxing into the notes. Your hand instinctively rose and fell, like last night. The image of the dim studio, the last one on the left, came to you. You sighed as you watched the memory fly and land, strong and sure, his face a perfection of…

You pressed your finger hard onto the pause button, opening your eyes, though you hadn’t realized you’d closed them. The urge to dance to that music tugged at you, but you forced it back with vehemence. This could not be your song anymore – not with that memory attached to it. You flicked back to your Ballet playlist. You found the piece for the review. Pin-Up Girl. You set it to repeat and pressed play and began warming up, not bothering to put your shoes on yet. You didn’t listen to the music as you sat and flexed your feet.

How dare he be so assuming? He’d only seen you dance twice, and today had hardly counted because he hadn’t shown you the slightest attention. How could he possibly judge you in such a short time? You stretched forward, easily grasping your toes, welcoming the burn in your legs. You wondered if he knew how late you’d started ballet. Maybe, like your mom and dad, he didn’t think it was possible for someone like you to even come near the standards.

You huffed and grabbed your pointe shoes. You managed to tie them up this time, but you still watched carefully as you crossed and wound the ribbons. Then you stood and set the music back to the beginning.

You would be better than you were this morning!

You carefully lifted and held the arabesque. You counted out the hold and then changed legs. How could he even tell whether you were coping or not? You hadn’t fallen to the ground crying or anything. One two three four and bend. You sloppily put your foot down and prepared for the leap. He was so patronizing! You came down in a hard plie, shooting up and doing another leap again, your arms flying out straight. He talked like you were a child, just because you were a first year. For God’s sake, you were probably his age! You would prove it, you would show him.

You landed your last leap with an ‘oof’. You were entirely out of tune with the music. Your stopped, realizing you hadn’t been listening at all. You had been thinking about something entirely different than what Madame Choi’s choreography was trying to portray.

You set the music back to the start again. You had to focus! You had to prove it to him! You set yourself up in the arabesque this time, holding yourself with perfect posture. Then you turned your foot to passé, making sure it touched just below the side of your knee. Six seven and then bend, pirouettes and then.

You glanced at yourself in the mirror to check your alignment. Your heart dropped in disappointment. Your alignment was fine. It was as good as ever, but you realized that you looked utterly dead. You looked like…well, Eungkwan.

This time you had done the choreography perfectly, but you may as well have been one of the wooden ballerinas holding up the banister of the grand staircase outside. Actually, you remembered them to have more expression than you.

“No understanding of the emotion.”

You slumped to the ground. All anger drained away, and all that was left was an ache in your chest, both desperate and frustrated. It was useless. You were useless. You weren’t connecting with the music, emotionally or time-wise. You couldn’t make any connection when you were tied up in all your own problems.

You pulled your knees into your chest, curling up into a tight ball. You just felt out of place, like the music was too different from you to even act anything. You were worn and tired. You were nothing like a ballet dancer should be. You had let everything get on top of you and it suffocated. A true ballerina would be able to throw away everything else when she danced, and get inside the music, inside the moves, and become whatever the moves and music together portrayed.

All you could do was think of your own situation, let the anger and frustration you felt towards Jimin take you over and just pray that your muscles remembered the moves. Or you could let your mind go blank and turn into the emotionless ballet-critic who watched herself move, but who didn’t notice anything else than the bad turn out. There was no way you could dance the way the dance should be danced. You were going to fail. You thought back to before you’d come to Amour. You thought right back to before you’d even started ballet.

You were in Seventh Grade, and your mom, in an attempt to be more motherly instead of locking herself in her office to mark homework, bought tickets to see the Russian Ballet at the Gwangju theatre performing Swan Lake. She probably wouldn’t have if she’d known what it would lead to.

You’d been quite eager to go. You liked the glitz of the theatre, you liked the costumes and the formality and excitement. The only encounter you could remember having with ballet was that scene in Titanic when Rose had gone en pointe without any pointe shoes on. You’d thought how horribly painful it must have been, but you were indifferent to the rest. You had the vague idea of the stereotypical dancer.  Gay for the guy and anorexic for the girl, but that was as far as your knowledge, experience and interest went.

You had watched Act One with enjoyment. You liked the formations they’d made on the stage, you liked the way they showed the storyline without any words, and of course the prince was very handsome.

But it was at the beginning of Act Two when you’d felt something stir in you. You’d sat up in your seat because they were playing the theme of Swan Lake. It was one of your favourite pieces at the time, only topped by one other. You had listened to it so much, and you had to admit you were curious as to whether the orchestra would get it right. But when the Swans entered, all perfectly in sync with each other, you became transfixed.

It was like the music had taken a whole new meaning, a whole new level. You watched them weave and run, pulling you and the harp into their world of the moonlit lake. They suddenly threw light on what the music was. It was like they harnessed it and made it into something greater than possible. You had watched the rest of the performance with bated breath. You’d discovered something more powerful than anything you had met before.

Ballet.

You’d felt the hot tears stream down your cheeks as you’d watched Siegfried and Odette throw themselves into the lake to avoid being apart, and as the curtains closed on them rising up to heaven, you’d stood and clapped, your entire mind consumed in what had just been played out before you.

And as they had taken their curtain call, you had clapped harder, but truly you were staring at the dancer who had played Odette, watching her take a deep curtsy, smiling at the audience. You’d thought back to the impossible feats she had performed, the two and a half hours standing on the tips of her toes in those shoes which made her look impossibly tall and graceful, the way she seemed to express so much in the floating of her arms, in the anguishing pull of her body, in the joyous pirouettes.

And of all things, you had liked the dances with her partner. The love that they expressed though beautiful turns and elegant steps and then the sheer triumph as he lifted her high above his head and made her seem to fly above the world. All the dancers seemed as though they were from a higher plane, it was if they had some higher understanding. You guessed it was like any story teller. Your emotions had been their puppets, and now they dropped your strings and you  were left staring open mouthed, wishing they could pick you up again.

But by the time you’d gotten home, that wish was had already begun to change. Your mom had been happy to chat about how good looking the principal male had been, and about how awful the theatre coffee tasted, but you were thinking of ballet instead.

How could it have passed you by so many times before? How many times had you seen Song Areum and her friend get taken out of class early to get to their ballet classes? How many times had you seen ads next to the movie section in the newspaper for the Gwangju Ballet? How could you have regarded them passively? But more important than all these questions was the single, golden and irrefutably dangerous question: Could you become a ballet dancer?

You started classes a week later, back in Gwangju. Your dad had been puzzled by your sudden interest in something other than academia, but decided it might be good for you to do something other than equations and essays. Gwangju Ballet School was a two room studio at the back of the teacher, Mrs. Harcourt’s, house.

She’d been somewhat unhappy at taking in a reclusive thirteen-year-old girl who’s posture essembled a 'dead flower’, but the class was very small, and she needed the income. Her husband had played the piano with much less finesse than Mrs. Shin or Mister Ghim, but he could keep a beat, and so you learnt how to plie and relevé and perform tondues. Gradually you had moved up the ranks to a very shaky arabesque.

Eventually, she let you learn your first dance. Up until that point, your motivation had been the striking and goddess-like Odette, but when you first stood in front of an audience of your teacher, her husband and the five girls in your class, something changed.

It was to Puccini’s Babbino, and it was extremely simple. A combination of chaînés and plies that would make Minjee snort with laughter, but it was all your own, and as you’d twirled around the cramped studio in your cheap wrap skirt from the department store in Gwangju. However your heart soared high and you felt like laughing with glee at the feel of air parting for you, the new flex in your legs as jumped up and down, your arms now held long in front of you. You had never felt so graceful, so free in your life.

You opened your eyes, finding yourself back in the polished and open studio at Amour de la Beauté. Suddenly, the music for the review filled your ears, fitting right into place with the irrepressible joy in your belly. You breathed in, letting the notes of the piano surround you, fast and flowing. You rested your chin on your knees, listening to the music for the first time. You found a smile pushing the corners of your lips. It was like a description of joy. Quick twinkling notes all joining together and then the great climax as it went higher and higher, you imagined pirouettes, and then it burst back into the chorus a final time before it ended, the last note slowly fading away.

You waited a second, then scrabbled up to the stereo to set it back to the beginning.

You didn’t bother counting, you simply lifted into the arabesque. But you decided it wasn’t really enough, listening to the rolling down of the notes. Gradually, you lifted your leg higher and higher, until your head and upper body were upside down and your legs were almost a horizontal line. You almost lost your balance, realizing you were doing a penche en pointe! How on Earth?

Fighting the need to look up and see yourself, you lifted your arms as the music required, and then came up, just in time for tentative step turns. You felt like you were finding your feet, just like you had back at Mrs. Harcourt’s. Then you took three more steps and curtsied. It was strange, but Odette’s curtsies had always been at the back of your mind as one of the most beautiful steps in ballet.

The music began its first quick notes, and you began the pirouettes, similar to the old choreography, but this time it was as if you had finally got it. It was Babbino again, and you realized you could dance! You turned them to fouettes, sticking out your leg between each turn, as the music gained intensity, and then the melody burst out, and so did you, every ounce of your essence flowing into your body, making you leap and spin and reach your hands up into space. You danced with such happiness, laughing as the music spurred you into a timeless scene.

It didn’t matter what had happened in the past, or what may happen in the future. You were dancing, and it was wonderful!

When it reached the climax at the end, you pirouetted round and round, your arms raising higher and higher and then coming down sharply. You danced quickly through the last chorus and then the end came. You lifted your leg, pulled your arms back and was once again in an arabesque. You stayed like that until that last note faded, your eyes closed, listening for the remnants of the notes.

Then you opened them and promptly sunk to the floor, your breath pumping and sweat beading down your neck. You laughed quietly to the silent studio that had only a moment ago been crackling with movement. You put a hand to your smiling lips, giddy with the thought that you had managed to find the connection. Now you just had to work out how to move that story into the proper choreography, but you could do a penche! And it fit better with the music. And you liked doing the curtsy, but Madame Choi wouldn’t be happy if you changed anything…

You’d forgotten that your iPod was on repeat, and so the piano keys began to play for the fourth time. You stood up. The feeling you’d had was too tempting. You began the dance again, reasoning that you would try and use the normal choreography and that it would be just as great. But to perform the arabesque without your newly found penche felt insubstantial, and you ended up breaking away halfway through and trying to remember those exhilarating steps you’d done last time.

It wasn’t as thrilling this time, but you still felt the connection at the back of your mind, the pure joy of dance. Again, the piece ended. You stayed standing. Now that you had done it, you would not be able to dance to the old choreography. It just wasn’t…You.

You knew it was bad form, to change a choreographer’s work, but Pin-Up Girl had never been danced to before, so it wasn’t as if you were changing Ivanov’s Pas de Quatre. You prayed Madame Choi would allow it. If you worked it so that it had no effect on the class choreography, she might just let you. But it would have to be foolproof.

You worked for hours, sometimes replaying just a few bars over and over again, trying to work out what on earth you were doing, committing everything to memory, making sure you were where you were meant to be in relation to the class formations. You had never choreographed anything before, fortunately the connection with the music was a strong guide. Your muscles ached, your head throbbed, and more than once you had to pause for horrible spells of dizziness, but you never stopped completely.

The original fervour of proving yourself to Park Jimin returned to you, but it waited obediently in the background. You knew that what you were creating would have to give some sort of impression at least, even if you were falling out of your penche and snapping your leg.

It was only when your headache began to feel like a pounding drum that you switched off your iPod and sat down on the floor, weary, sore, but so fulfilled. It was dark outside, and the moon was concealed under a thick blanket of cloud. You’d only bothered to turn one row of lights on and it created an oddly comforting darkness around you. You pulled your heels in close and painfully pressed your knees down, realising a better warm-up might have been a good idea. You bent forward and held it, resting head in your hands, letting your breathing lower a little.

You would show it to Madame Choi in the morning. Hopefully your memory loss wouldn’t creep up on you in the night. You had to show her that it could only improve the performance. You had to show her the real you that your choreography brought out.

You took off your pointe shoes, feeling that horrible burn which told you, you had formed several new blisters in the past few hours. Retrieving your iPod, you glanced at the time. 9.05. Crap! Your headphones and shoes swung violently in your hand as you burst out into the corridor, and right into another person.

“Sorry!” You exclaimed automatically, but then saw who it was.

“Watch where you’re going.” Snapped the girl whose absence you had had the privilege of the past week. Shinn Taeyeon towered over you by two inches, but she seemed even taller tonight. She had on her black leotard, which had a graceful trail of golden Gemstones crossing it. She wore a black wrap around skirt, and a dance bag hung from her shoulder with Shinn Taeyeon stitched on it, of course in gold.

“Oh hey (Name).” She said, a horribly fake smile pressing through her glossed lips.

“Taeyeon.” You acknowledged. You weren’t entirely sure how to act. Things had been different that day in the dining hall, in front of the entire school. You’d always found that open enemies weren’t always private ones. Some people were bitches with their friends but bearable one-on-one.

Though apparently this wasn’t the case with Taeyeon. “Isn’t it time for first years to be in bed?” She asked, sickly sweet.

You raised your chin. “Isn’t it time for you to stop being such a bitch?” You fired back. “You know that sort of thing can be devastating for your career.” It was as weak as a wet string, but you got the required response.

She raised an eyebrow, glaring down at you, opening her mouth to say something when someone else came into the corridor. Both of your heads snapped to the stairs as Jimin strode down. He stopped when he saw you.

“(Na-)…Miss (Surname)…” Jimin faltered. Your breath sharpened. He recovered and looked you over, frowning at the pointe shoes in your hands. “Why are you here?” He demanded, stepping towards you. “You’re not meant to be doing ballet.”

Taeyeon snorted. “Too true, Chim. She doesn’t have the height, or maybe that’s just a first year thing.” You glanced at her, and then remembered what Jiwoo had told you, about how Jimin was her ticket into the American Ballet. You were a threat, so of course she had to show you up in front of him. Though, if she’d heard the conversation you’d had a few hours ago she wouldn’t have any need to be worried.

You turned back to Jimin. “I feel fine.” You told him, ignoring Taeyeon. “You’re not the only one who believes there are no excuses to lower your game.” And then you were back to the same conversation again.

He gave you a hard, stony stare. “I believe in safety.”

Your eyes narrowed. “Because it’s really safe to close your eyes when you’re holding an 'afraid’ and 'helpless’ first year above your head.” It hurt to use the memory of it, by using the dance as a feeble comeback at the very man you shared it with. You felt sick with yourself, but you felt the anger that you’d pushed to the back of your mind surge forward again.

“Though if you even knew anything about safety you wouldn’t have left us with Madam Zhang.” Your throat tightened. “Then Jiwoo wouldn’t have had a fall.”

“(Name)…” He stepped forward, his lips grimacing, his face pained. You felt that horrible prickling in the back of your eyes, telling you, you needed to leave, fast.

“Save it.” You muttered, brushing past him and walking quickly down the corridor. The scent of deodorant and sweat swirled around you intoxicatingly for a brief second, but your breathing shuddered and you hurried on.

“I told you she has problems.”

“Shut up, Taeyeon.” You heard him mutter.

You charged up the stairs. How the hell had it gotten from your rule-breaking to Jiwoo? Why had you had to bring it up? You blinked away the stupid tears. Did you even feel any anger for Jimin not being there? Or was it your own selfish problem with him ignoring you?

You reached the dorm. Madam Choi, who was still relieving Madame Hyejin, stood at the door. “Late, Miss (Surname)?” She said angrily, her frizzy hair accentuating her expression.

“Sorry Madame.” You said, curtsying. “I was rehearsing.”

Her defined eyebrow pointed up, her hands on her hips. “Perhaps that is not so bad, then.” You doubted any of the other teachers would say that. She stared you up and down with black, beady eyes. “In, Miss (Surname), go in.”

You nodded hastily and slipped past her into your dorm.

Everyone else was already asleep, so you got changed into your PJ’s in the dark. Then you slipped under your duvet, mind still whirring with what had just gone down. It took you a while, lying in the quiet darkness of the dorm, to calm yourself. But gradually the storm dissipated, and you were left with the bubbling excitement of your new improved dance.

4

Backgrounds from our latest film! 6of us’s been workin on it (Flóra Buda, Barbi Takács, Anna Tímár, Enikő Szász, Koska Zoli and myself, Panni Gyulai) Flóra and i did the backgrounds (with a whole bunch of help from Zoli) these specific ones were made by me, the first two (or three?) were based on Zoli’s sketches. I’ll upload soon some other stuffs from this project! It was really interesting and instructive:)