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Just Ask Ch. 07

Just Ask Ch. 07

Amateur

I hope you enjoy this installment in Hayden and Jackson’s relationship. I am grateful and humbled by your kinds words about this work- and your patience!

* * * * * * * * * *

It’s the night of the performance. I have been working for several weeks to perfect the choreography. It’s (mostly) a student concert, some of our faculty have pieces in this one. I’m in four pieces: a small group piece with four other dancers, my solo, the duet with Ellyn, and a very sexy jazz number with lots of gyrating, high kicks, and funky lines. There’s no partnering, but there are plenty of formations and remembering all of the crazy shapes our choreographer has us in has been a pain in my ass. It’s fun choreography but damn! Calm down.

All the dancers in this concert have a big group number together. We are twenty-four strong, and this is piece was choreographed by one of our faculty members. It’s a big ballet variation from Swan Lake. Basically we did fifteen minutes of the famous stuff. I have the black swan solo, and it’s been very challenging but rewarding. And I gotta say, I fuckin’ rock that variation.

Then of course there is my duet with Ellyn. Our choreographer made us run it again and again, and by now we could practically do it in our sleep. There are some crazy lifts in this one, ridiculous stuff that I wouldn’t have thought to do, like ever. I’m glad Ellyn is so tiny, because if she were much bigger my arms would fall off. We’re both ready to be over this piece but it really is good stuff… we just hope to never have to do it again.

And the one I’m most nervous about is my solo. I choreographed this one- a moody modern piece with lots of floorwork. I didn’t really have a concept when I started working on it, and it’s changed a lot. Initially I just wanted to have some fun with a few ideas I’d been tossing around. It started off as a structured improv, really meant to just be a celebration of movement, but the more I do it the more I find Jackson creeping in. As the piece has grown I’ve noticed that my mind naturally fixates on Jackson when I dance. I can’t get him out of my head- and I’m surprised to find that I like it that way. More and more I find myself telling the story of how we met, and as I work on it I see traces of Jackson everywhere. It’s like he’s dancing with me, but he’s invisible. I’m not really sure where it’s going, and it’s a little different every night, but this piece is so personal. And it’s missing something. I feel like I can never quite get it right. I get so close to expressing exactly how I feel, how perfect I feel with Jackson. He makes me feel safe, and desired, and content, and full- both in my heart and in delicious other ways. It’s just… missing something. I’m so nervous to share it- I’ve never choreographed anything before, and now everyone who comes is going to see exactly where my heart is. And Jackson is going to be there tonight. I’m excited for him to see it, but I’m scared to be this vulnerable on stage.

I’m in the green room with the other dancers. I sit in front of the mirror, applying my face. We can really do whatever makeup we want for this show. Nobody really cares what we look like, since it’s an informal student show. Ellyn is beside me, and our makeup and dance supplies are scattered everywhere. We really know how to spread out. Around us, the other dancers are in similar states of disarray. Some stretch and warm up, some do makeup, some rehearse their choreography, and some take pictures and laugh and goof off. Ellyn and I are high as fuck, trying to be chill about it. To be honest, most of the other dancers are high, too. That’s just how life is at this little mountain college. Not much else to do but turn up.

I’m fixing Ellyn’s eyebrow liner when the door opens and one of the stage crew walks over to me. She’s a little plump and very cute, dressed in the customary all black. She chats over her headset, a huge bouquet in her arm.

“Where’s Hayden?” she calls, and I look up. Are those really for me?

“I’m over here,” I answer, and she plods over to my spot at the mirror.

“Special delivery,” she says, and hands me the bouquet. It’s absolutely stunning, easily two dozen red roses. I feel lots of envious eyes on me. “They just came in. Here ya go,” and she turns to leave. “Places in ten!” she calls, and we all answer in the affirmative. The rush intensifies and people forget about me and my flowers.

“Looks like loverboy sent an offering,” Ellyn teases. I blush and drop my head to smell the flowers. They are fresh and dainty, and so striking. Each rose is red as blood, and the aroma wafts around me. Pinned to the bouquet is a little card. “Are you gonna tell me what the card says or are you just gonna sit there grinning like an idiot?” she says.

I take the little card and look it over. I wanted to fill your arms with flowers. I bought every rose they had. I’ll be in the front row- merde. It’s signed with Jackson’s name. I see myself in the mirror and realize I really am görükle escort grinning like an idiot. I’ve been smiling a lot these days.

“You are so smitten!” Ellyn squeals, and I can’t lie, I really am. I’m absolutely giddy about my flowers- they’re stunningly beautiful. I’ve never gotten flowers for a performance before. Especially never from a guy… I find myself tearing up a little. Time to get a hold of myself.

“So what,” I say casually, punching Ellyn’s arm. “Maybe I am smitten.”

“Maybe!?” she cackles. “Maybe I’m the pope,” and we share a laugh. “You know loverboy is gonna get some good sex tonight,” she says.

“He gets good sex every night,” I say, and she snorts. “I’m gonna give to him really good tonight, though,” I say, and she high-fives me.

The door opens and in comes the same stage hand again. She looks a little agitated this time, she’s got another bouquet in her hand. Well, a single sunflower wrapped in paper. She stomps over to us, like she’s got better things to do than to deliver flowers to dancers, and she hands it to Ellyn. “Five to places!” she yells, and stomps away.

“Someone’s not been getting any flowers,” Ellyn mutters, and the stagehand flips her off over her shoulder. Ellyn beams at her sunflower- it’s got a sealed envelope in it. She opens it up, there’s a packet of white powder and a note.

“Break a leg tonight. Or shit or whatever it is you’re supposed to say. I got some good stuff in so here’s a little bit. More after the show,” she reads, and she tilts her head. “Aww, Hyde is so sweet,” she says, and takes a sneaky look around. Nobody is watching us- they’re all focused on themselves. “Cover me,” she says, and I assume a wide stretch behind her, a nice low plie. She bends down as if to sniff her flower and rips a line of whatever it is that was in the packet. “Ahh,” she says, rubbing her nose. “That really is some good stuff!”

I roll my eyes. I’ll smoke some weed before a show, but I won’t do anything harder. It happens all the time in the dance world. I know lots of pros who live on coke- and when you’re exerting yourself at the professional level, you’re tempted to use substances to stay on top of the demand. I don’t judge anyone for what they do to perform; but if I don’t rehearse on it, I won’t perform on it.

“Okay bitch, I’m gonna get to places,” Ellyn says, and after our very complicated friendship handshake, in a blur of hair she is gone. I take one last look at my roses. I think I know what my piece is missing.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I’m in the front row of the theatre. Except, I’m not really sure it’s a theatre. I’ve definitely never been a place like this. It’s a small space, with audience on three sides. The whole room is black and there are some curtains hung from the ceiling. It feels very warehouse, almost New York. I guess this is where the artsy stuff happens.

I’m not gonna pretend I know anything about dance. Or about art in general. I did a play in middle school, but that was mostly for class. I’m in a Shakespeare class, but it’s not because I like theatre or because I’m any good at English. Since I took that remedial English class freshman year, I’ve been more confident about that subject, and finished my required writing classes, but I’ll be honest- I only took Shakespeare because I knew Hayden was in it.

I’m pretty popular with the ladies in the academic affairs office- I’m in there a lot, trying to get my classes together. My first year I had to get a lot of slips signed for special permission to take remedial classes and to get my progress forms marked off. It was really embarrassing at first, but I’m definitely not the only athlete who frequents that office. Far from it, actually. So when I signed up for classes last semester, the main lady I visit (Kathy) told me that I needed to take an elective this semester. It could have been anything, as long as it wasn’t required for my degree. I asked what there was space for, and Shakespeare was the first class she pulled up. Hayden’s name was at the top of the roster. So my elective choice was obvious to me.

I used to sit in the back, not really understanding anything but secretly hoping for my chance to get him to notice me. He always sat up front. He was basically the only person who ever talked in class and he would get into really intense debates with the professor, like the time he and the professor got into a debate about bees during Macbeth. I spent more time daydreaming about Hayden in class than paying attention. Now, I sit up front with him. I’m still daydreaming and not paying attention, but now I get to hold his hand during class. Or let my hand rest on his leg. Or put my arm around him. It feels so good to be out in public with my boyfriend. I like that everyone knows he’s mine, and I’m his. He makes me keep my PDA to a minimum, especially in class, but I know he secretly loves it when I kiss his cheek or knuckles, or when I rub his back in class.

Now I’m here, in eskort bayan the front row of the student dance concert. I’ve been to a few school dance concerts, but only when I heard Hayden was performing. Usually I’d sit by myself at the back- I couldn’t convince any of my teammates or frat brothers to come with me. Now we’ve taken up the whole front row, right in the middle. My teammates have developed this awesome friendship with Hayden. He was nervous at first about how he would fit in with the group, but it’s really been natural. He comes to games, he hangs out with us, and he is right at home with my teammates’ girlfriends. He calls himself “one of the girls”, and yes he did have to explain to me why he’s not offended by it. My bros have told me that they’re happy I’m finally not pining over him anymore- but they tease me endlessly about mooning over him now. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

We sit through the whole concert, and honestly, it’s boring. I really don’t get dance. They jump and hop and do some cool shit, but their faces are all serious. Some of these students are definitely better than others. I pay really close attention when Hayden is onstage but otherwise I don’t really focus. In one piece, he’s in a small group and the moving he’s doing is downright sinful. My green-eyed jealousy monster rears in protest at some of those movements, knowing that other people are probably turned on by his dancing. I know I am- my dick is full mast. Every now and then I catch his eye and once he winks at me. God, he’s so fucking hot. I’m going to fuck his brains out after this.

He does another number with everyone and he has a breathtaking solo in it. Very different from the other piece- I think he said this one is ballet? He’s like a dying bird or something, and it actually breaks my heart when he dies. He’s so light, so fragile- in the other piece he was lively and sensual. He’s far and away the best dancer there. And that’s not just my bias talking.

His duet with Ellyn is truly impressive. He throws her around like she weighs nothing (and she really is small, she can’t be more than a hundred pounds), and the lifts they’re doing are really cool. They contort themselves in strange ways and I’m taking notes for things to try with him tonight. Of course, he doesn’t know what I’ve got planned yet, but I think he’ll love it.

His solo is one of the last pieces in the show. He’s been really nervous about it- he won’t tell me anything about it other than that he hasn’t gotten it right yet. And it’s… incredible. He’s absolutely stunning. He walks out and stands right in the center of the stage. He’s got the roses in his arms, the ones I gave him. There are so many that I almost can’t see his body behind them. I flush with pride. He sets them on the floor and the music starts.

It’s just the artist and her guitar. Judging from the sounds of intermittent applause and audience noises, it’s a live recording. The voice is raw, deep, raspy, and powerful. I know I’ve heard it before but I can’t place where. The accompaniment is less about the music than it is the lyrics- the guitar strums simple chords in simple patterns, punctuating the lyrics. The lyrics are set to a melody that doesn’t vary much, but the lyrics are close to ten verses about finding peace of mind. They are complex and describe the speaker’s emotional journey through struggle and finding peace of mind in a person, and ultimately, in life itself.

His performance is just as powerful as the music. He starts simply, without much flash and show. He is slow and languid, slowly contorting his body to the music. Every step is a supreme demonstration of his control. His long, lean muscles ripple in time to the song. It feels like a moving reflection on joy. The other dances were (mostly) good, but this one is very different. He takes a rose from the floor and rips it from the stem. He crumples it in his hand and scatters it around the floor in a wide, sweeping circle, one leg high and bent. Periodically, he comes back to the roses and repeats the motion, covering the whole stage floor in petals. The floor looks like a red carpet, like it’s dripping in blood. As more rose petals cover the floor, the dramatic contrast of red on black is overwhelming.

His dancing is increasingly unrestrained. I am amazed at his power and grace. He leaps high into the air and somehow lands on hands and feet, and no sooner does he land than he begins a complicated maneuver involving his body twisting like a pretzel- and suddenly, his feet are in the air and his head on the ground. He is a blurry of limbs- the music rises, the singer shouts, and he moves, the petals flurry about him. It’s a whirlwind of rose petals, and his face is drawn in tight emotion, dancing for every bit of life in him. It’s astonishing. If I wasn’t already in love with him, this would have been the moment. He is breathtaking, incredible, sublime.

Somehow the dance reminds me of something familiar. I see in altıparmak escort his movements some of our story- and I am almost positive that he is dancing the way we make love. Suddenly I realize that he is dancing us, dancing him and me, and I am taken away by the ferocity of his feelings. The music ends abruptly, deafening applause on the recording, and for a moment no one breathes. He stands, the last rose in his hand, and bows. Wild applause breaks out. He smoothly crosses to where I’m sitting and he hands me the rose- then kisses me deep. I want to make a show of it, let everyone know how he is mine and I am his, but I get the sense that it wouldn’t be appropriate. Our kiss is infinite, but brief, and too soon he pulls away and prances backstage, to the lingering applause of our audience. I stand and cheer for him, and my team (following my lead) joins in. I don’t care if I’m making a fool of myself. I’m a fool for him.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

After the final bows, Ellyn and I clean ourselves up in the green room. There is a big after party planned for the cast tonight, and we take advantage of the mirrors covering our studio, which doubles as a green room during concerts. We wipe off our makeup and carefully reapply. We aren’t the type to wear our performance makeup out- it’s unprofessional and unseemly. Plus, getting turnt and turning up for art are two COMPLETELY different looks. Tonight, we are doing matching looks- purple and green, just because. My contour and eyes are based in purple, with highlights and finishing touches in green. Ellyn creates an inverse look. We elongate our faces to make sharp curves and long lines- tonight, we want to look fierce. This performance has been a long time coming, and very draining. We are so ready to cut loose.

Our duet was great. The two group numbers went alright, but you could tell everyone in them had their minds on other pieces. My solo, which I was petrified wouldn’t be received well, went over great. The roses were definitely my missing piece- and once I realized that the dance was really for Jackson, it made perfect sense to include the flowers he gave me. It was perfectly natural to include them in my choreography. Everything just flowed, and for that moment, I had reached new heights in my artistry and abilities. I was very proud of that dance, but it was hard to be so vulnerable and open about my personal life in front of so many strangers. If Jackson hadn’t been there, right in the front row, I don’t know if I could have done as well. It was, in a word, perfect.

“Bitch, you were soo good! You fucking slayed that solo,” Ellyn gushes, carefully applying a line of white to the bridge of her nose.

“What about you? Your solo was edgy and different, you really took a risk!” I shoot back, dabbing white just below my brows.

“Yeah yeah, it was great. I know,” she says, and I snort. “I’m just glad we never have to do that duet again,” she huffs, and I hem in agreement. It was a good number, excellently wrought, but it was the most physically demanding piece I have ever done. I know I’m going to feel it tomorrow. Maybe I can talk Jackson into getting into the tub with me and working my sore muscles over. I know one muscle that would like his attention…

I snap back to real life when I hear my name called. “Hayden dear,” comes the warm, soothing voice of my advisor. She has wild, frizzy hair, a willowy figure, and dresses like a forest-witch/yoga-mom combo. She’s probably both. “You did such a lovely job tonight,” she says, and I beam. This particular professor, Dr. Lacey, is very hard to impress. She issued my scholarship at my auditions, and was very clear about the expectations of work that I would need to stay eligible for it. She expected a lot from me and really pushed me to grow. I didn’t really expect to become a better artist here, at this tiny little mountain college in the middle of nowhere; but when they offered that much money, I couldn’t turn it down. I was basically going to college for free between this scholarship, my academic awards, and my federal aid.

“Thanks, Dr. Lacey,” I say. “I worked really hard on this show,” and she nods.

“It shows. You are growing by leaps and bounds,” she says, and I can feel myself glowing. It’s hard to explain, but every art student idolizes their mentor (if they’re lucky enough to find a compatible mentor). Dr. Lacey had a long, impressive professional career before she became a professor. She still works professionally and conducts extensive research. I would be happy if my career was even a sliver as successful. She is everything I want to become as an artist and professional.

“And Ellyn, you really impressed me tonight. You choreographed that solo, right?” she asks, and Ellyn snaps to attention.

“Yes I did!” she says. “I’ve really been taking the class reading to heart,” she oozes. Ellyn is so funny- she has respect for very little people. I don’t think there’s a single person in our department who doesn’t think Dr. Lacey walks on water, though. And Dr. Lacey has not had many compliments for Ellyn.

“It was really quite refreshing. Reminds me of Paul Taylor’s early work. I think you’re really finding your stride,” Dr. Lacey says, and I think Ellyn is about to piss herself with joy.

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