When We Danced on Water

When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg Read Free Book Online

Book: When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Evan Fallenberg
her.
    She waits for Teo to explain but he is engrossed in conversation with one of the female dancers, whose forearm he is holding and tapping vigorously.
    â€œI’m … he’s …” Vivi sputters. She is at a loss to explain her presence there, uncertain even how to address her coffee-shop customer, but she draws herself in and says with a nod of her head, “I’m his guest.”
    Teo turns his whole body around in his chair, bows stiffly in her direction, and says, “Welcome.”
    She seats herself on a stool in the corner, her coat folded on her lap, and watches.
    â€œAll right, boys and girls,” Teo says. “Let’s try it once again. Lighter. Firmer. With precision, everyone. Pre-ci-sion. Mrs. Nudel,” he calls out to the air, “back to the beginning of that section, please.”
    A heavy-set platinum blonde at the piano licks her fingers, turns the music back several pages, and begins to play. Vivi winces as the dancers throw themselves into bone-crunching positions. Teo is dissatisfied and stops them almost at once.
    A tense silence falls on the room as the dancers wait and Teo sits slumped in his chair, his head bent. They begin to throw worried looks to one another, and Vivi herself wonders if something hasn’t happened to him.
    Then suddenly his head rises, his back straightens, and he is all at once on his feet, as though he has floated there. Slowly he rotates his body so that his back is now to his dancers, his face turned toward Vivi. His arms spread grandly to the sides, his chest expands, his legs pivot. Everything about him is taut and lean and sculpted, his shoulders beautifully squared. He no longer seems his age, or even old at all. Vivi shifts in her seat, uncomfortable at how aroused she is by this man who could be her grandfather. His muscles are remarkably firm, his stomach flat, and there is no way to describe him as anything but sexy. After a long moment taking him in, fully, she wills her gaze to drop to the floor.
    â€œÃ‰paulement,” he cries. “Épaulement. Épaulement. Épaulement. Épaulement. Shall I say it a few more times? Will it help?” He drops the pose, turns back to them. “You are beautiful, talented dancers,” he tells them. “You have mastered these complicated steps in a very short period of time and will dance them at the gala in less than two weeks from now. Your ballet master has trained you impeccably. But without these touches you may as well be doing aerobics. In this particular ballet, which is about the very nature of obsession itself, one of the obsessions explored is that of art, in this case dance. This ballet must reek of obsession, which the viewer understands through precision. What did Monsieur Balanchine used to say about precision?” he asks in a way that makes it sound like a rhetorical question.
    The male dancer who had first noticed Vivi answers him. “ ‘If it is not precise it falls to pieces,’ ” he quotes, clearly not for the first time.
    â€œÂ â€˜Nobody criticizes the sun or moon or the earth for being precise, and that is why they have life,’ ” Teo adds. He spends the next twenty minutes moving from dancer to dancer, making individual suggestions and demonstrating, as far as his ancient body will allow, what he wants from them. Vivi watches as their muscles extend and they reshape themselves, responding to their teacher’s instructions and pushing to their limits. When they try the dance again they are focused and precise and serious, and the results are discernibly different. She can feel it, and she sees by the expressions on their faces that they can, too. She watches as toes and fingers curl as they should and a lift that fails several times suddenly rises to miraculous perfection and the timing of a double pirouette is halved to fit the music. She is riveted, sweating along with these beautiful, lithe creatures

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