Ballet was tough. It was hard on the dancers, on the choreographers and even on the audience. But Alexei just loved it. He had begun his dancing at a very young age and his parents had always been very supportive. They were the pillars of his happiness because they had enabled him to become one with dancing and had never missed one of his performances. They were very proud of their son and wanted the best for him and that’s why they supported him with everything he did. Alexei was grateful because, talking to other dancers, he realized things could not have gone so smoothly for him. There was even a dancer that claimed he had been left with an aunt at age seven for him liking ballet.
Of course, the myth says that if a man likes ballet, both as a spectator and a dancer, then he’s a homosexual. The truth was it was that the statement was accurate very often but not always. Alexei was gay but he had met a lot of heterosexual men that loved dancing at that were even really relaxed about their sex lives. Besides, women apparently loved a guy who was bendy and had a nice body and so on. It was funny sometimes to see Evan, the most heterosexual dancer he had ever seen, just flirting with at least three girls at the same time. It looked ridiculous and funny and also was something to admire about him. The man was really handsome and he was very talented too so the girls got all in one or at least that was what he said. The point was, ballet dancers came in all forms or shapes.
Actually, the company Alexei danced with praised itself for its variety at the moment of choosing their performances and also for their diversity among the dancers. There were black women and men, Asians, Latinos and so on. And people loved that because they had a certain “Benetton syndrome” where they loved to have all races bond and be happy together, which was clearly not the case in real life. But funny enough, they did feel each other as family. Many would often have lunch together and some even shared an apartment. For example, Alexei lived with Katerina who had been in the company three more years than him. She was very experienced and disciplined but when she wanted she could be very liberated.
Alexei and Katerina had become very good friends and when she was unable to fin a proper place to stay after her former contract expired, Alexei invited her to live with him. They had fun whenever they were not tired and both there at the same time. They would watch movies together and eat some ice cream, which was forbidden but they did not care. It was a fun way to live because they could also talk about work and ballet in general and they would understand and give tips to one another, something that they wouldn’t be able to do with people out of the medium. So their living arrangement was advantageous for both of them and they had become more of a family than just friends.
But that changed once the production of Swan Lake begun. Of course, that was a classic and every single member of the company wanted desperately to become well known after receiving the dual role for which everyone knew the play. But that wasn’t going to happen. It had been decided that the role would be played by two people instead of putting all the pressure in one of them. And to make matters more interesting, they also announced that gender would not play a part in any decision concerning any of the roles. They would just mask them or put them in certain costumes if the character had to be man or woman but the person playing them could be either. They announced all of this and the dancers stopped being that family and became almost enemies.
Nice little lunches, smiles, parties, walks and so on stopped. It was as if war had suddenly started and anyone could be a spy or your worst enemy. Alexei regretted this because his main dream was not to become the most well known male ballet dancer. He just wanted to keep learning and getting better and better in his art. For him, ballet was one of those things that elevate the soul and make people forget about every single bad thing that is happening to them. It has the ability to make your soul fly away into a beautiful world that doesn’t exist and feel things that maybe you wouldn’t be able to experience in reality.
What Alexei regretted more was talking to Katerina. She had been one of the main performers in the company since she had started and didn’t want that to go away. She felt people knew her and that the audience needed to see a proper black swan, the role for which she was practicing. The truth was that many guys and girls wanted that role and not so many wanted the others. Alexei practiced for the role of the prince and just practiced a lot to get it perfectly. They had three months until the casting took place and then the audition results became known and production went ahead like a steam train. It was all a bit scary for Alexei but he knew he had his family and friend at his side.
After rehearsal, he would often meet with Gabrielle and John. Gabby was one of those girls that is really objective and goes to the point very fast. She told Alexei that, although she didn’t know much about ballet, she did know he was a very good dancer and that every time he showed his talent, people rewarded him in many ways. Gabby was an architect and knew some art. And John was a fashion designer and had always wanted to make something for Alexei but the clothes for the plays were always done by the designer of the theater and in normal life he wasn’t a very big guy in fashion. Anyway, John was also very supportive and told him guys would fly of their seats only to check his ass on those tights, which always made Alexei laugh.
Alexei rehearse every single day. He woke up early, went to a small room he had booked for several days and just did his routine, number by number. He noticed fast all of his mistakes and made himself learn new things or repeat those that didn’t come naturally to him. At the end of it, after several hours, he was tired, hungry as his feet hurt like hell. But it was worth it, he thought. Alexei felt that performing was always the best way to get the audience into the play and hopefully to get more people to know about ballet, which was ultimately what, he wanted. Although his family was supportive, people in life had been less candid about his choices and he could even say he had been bullied. But he didn’t say it because he wasn’t a victim but a strong person and he refused to bow to weakness.
That was his ballet persona, if you will, that kicked in life and helped him be who he was. It was this strong attitude that attracted, after one of his rehearsals, a guy named Javier. He was a server in one of the restaurants where Alexei often went after being all day in a closed space. There he could eat a nutritious meal, bound to the rules of the academy, and also do one of the things he liked most which was just look at people passing by on the street. But once Javier started talking to him, while serving or while on a break, he had stopped looking at the people outside and had started looking only at Javier.
They went out on a date just one week before the audition. Alexei said that his daily rehearsals should be enough to pass the audition and that he didn’t believe in overdoing anything. If he wasn’t ready, it wasn’t going to be solved by getting his feet broken on the last week. So after one of his routine rehearsals, he met with Javier who had a day off and just walked to a park and just chatted there for hours. Javier wasn’t the first guy that he met, of course, but it felt like it. He had never really talked to any guy about what he did, they were always too busy asking how bendy he was and praising him for his looks, something that Javier did but in a much more elegant way. They had dinner together and at the end of the night they kissed goodbye.
The day of the audition, Alexei gave everything of himself. He thought to himself that this prince was going to be the best thing he would have ever done. He gave him energy and power and the jury saw it because their faces couldn’t hide the fact that they had loved what Alexei had done. Once done, he had to wait outside as the announcement of who had won what role was done only a half hour after they auditioned. Every waited in silence, pacing around and just not even thinking about anything else. Finally, they let them all in in the auditorium and announced the roles. Alexei almost jumped when he got the role of the prince and the guy who got to be white swan was ecstatic. But the black swan wasn’t won by Katerina but someone else.
He felt bad for his friend but also felt awesome because of his role. He called his parents and Gabby and John and they were all very excited. They only had good wishes for him. Then, he grabbed his coat and went straight to Javier’s place and then they celebrated with cheap wine and sex, but it was the best celebration ever. He was happy know, more than ever. Things may never be that good again and that’s why he was living the moment so beautifully.