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Ballerina Dreams: Book 5
Dancing with the stars
by Ann Bryant
Jasmine’s been told she’s good enough to audition for the world-famous Royal Ballet School – she’s on top of the world! But her happiness is shattered when Dad won’t allow her to audition. Will Jasmine ever follow her dream and dance with the stars?
Ann Bryant is both an author and a musician. She started her writing when she was young, writing a play when she was still at primary school. At school, one of her favourite activities was just hanging out with friends and Ann is happy to relive these times again with the girls of Silver Spires in the fantastic School Friends series. Ann now teaches music and drama as well as writing children's fiction, including the very successful Ballerina Dreams series.
Visit www.annbryant.co.uk to find out more.
DANCING WITH THE STARS
Chapter One: The Magic Moment
Hi! I’m Jasmine. I’m feeling on top of the world because I’ve just had a “lovely” from Miss Coralie, my ballet teacher. She’s a very strict teacher with incredibly high standards, so when you get a “lovely” you really feel honoured. Miss Coralie used to dance with the Royal Ballet, before starting the Coralie Charlton School of Ballet, which is where my friends Poppy and Rose and I all go. It’s the best dancing school around. Rose is on grade four, and that’s brilliant considering she only started ballet lessons a year and two terms ago, and Poppy and I are on grade five.
This hour from five thirty till six thirty on a Tuesday is my favourite hour of the week. I’m always dreaming about it when I’m supposed to be concentrating on my school work. My dad would be really cross if he knew that, because he thinks ballet is nothing compared to school work, but to me, it’s everything. And I’m really sad that it’s the last ballet lesson of term today and then we’ve got three weeks without lessons over the Easter holidays.
“Moving on to steps, girls,” said Miss Coralie. “Let’s try pas de bourrée, pas de bourrée, assemblé, assemblé…” Miss Coralie showed us by marking it through, which means doing it roughly. She uses her hands too, when she’s marking. I love this part of the lesson, when we have to remember a sequence of steps and do it straight away, especially when I’m in the front row, like I am now, and I have to make my brain work really fast.
“Right, one row at a time,” said Miss Coralie briskly. “Start in fifth position, demi-plié and…” Mrs. Marsden, the pianist, played a bar of music for us to prepare. “Point those toes harder, girls, and close in tighter… Turn out the supporting leg. Lift up out of the ribs…”
I felt as though Miss Coralie was a hawk watching its prey, the way her eyes bored into me. She didn’t seem to be paying quite the same amount of attention to anyone else, so when it was the next row’s turn to do the sequence I quickly looked down to check that my drawstrings were tucked into my shoes. She’s very particular about our uniform. We have to look totally neat and tidy all the time.
Maybe my tights have got a dirty mark on them, I thought, when Miss Coralie was still staring at my ankles during the révérence. I tried to look down, but it was impossible without lowering my head, and your chin is supposed to be tilted slightly up during this final curtsey, as if you’re looking out to the audience at the end of a ballet, and thanking everyone for watching. That’s what Miss Coralie says anyway.
Every time I do the révérence I imagine that it really is the end of a ballet and that I’m one of the soloists at a big theatre in London, like Covent Garden or Sadler’s Wells. I’ve been to both those theatres and I absolutely love them. I’ve even been backstage at Sadler’s Wells and met one of the dancers, Anna Lane. It all happened because Poppy and Rose and I all won a prize at Miss Coralie’s show and the adjudicator, Miss Bird, invited us to go to London to watch her daughter, Anna, dancing. It was one of the best times of my life, especially meeting Anna afterwards. She’s such a nice, friendly person as well as being my favourite dancer. And I’ve met Miss Bird lots of times now because my mum is on the same fund-raising committee as her, and they sometimes meet at our house. Even if they meet somewhere else, my mum always comes home and says that Miss Bird sent her love or asked how my ballet was going.
“Jasmine, can I have a word with you, please?”
I came back to earth with a jolt at the sound of Miss Coralie’s voice.
Poppy turned to me with big eyes. I think she was as puzzled as I was. Miss Coralie doesn’t usually keep anyone back after class unless it’s about something quite important. Everyone went out to the changing room except Tamsyn Waters. She was fiddling with her ballet shoes but there was nothing wrong with them. I’m sure she was just hanging around so she could hear what Miss Coralie wanted to say to me. But Miss Coralie was talking to Mrs. Marsden for ages while I stood there, and in the end Tamsyn had to go.
When Miss Coralie turned round her face was serious. “Jasmine, we need to think about your ballet future. You’re doing so well, but to make real progress at this stage, you should be doing more than one class per week.”
My first thought was: More ballet! Brilliant! But then there quickly came a little tug of worry. If Miss Coralie had said what she’d just said a year ago, my spirits would have sunk down through the floorboards because my dad would never have let me do the extra lessons in a million years. You see, he’s a doctor and he really disapproves of ballet because of stretching and pushing your body into unnatural shapes. Unfortunately, no matter what I say about how it’s good for you too, he refuses to believe me. Also, out of every single one of my friends’ fathers, I’ve got the strictest one. He thinks that school work and getting high marks in exams are all that matter. He keeps telling me that people only get good jobs in law and medicine and things if they work really hard at school. But I don’t want a job like that. All I want is to be a ballerina. That’s my dream.
My dad used to say that I had to give up ballet when I started secondary school, which is in five months’ time, but he completely changed his mind when he saw me dance in Miss Coralie’s show. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when I spotted him in the audience clapping and clapping. He seemed so very proud.
I shook the little tug of worry away. There wasn’t a problem any more. And with Miss Coralie’s next words the very last anxious little puff turned into a truly magic moment.
“I think you ought to audition for the Junior Associates, Jasmine. That would mean going to Covent Garden in London, and doing the junior Royal Ballet class every Saturday.”
A big gasp rushed out of me. “Royal Ballet! But am I good enough?”
Miss Coralie smiled. “I wouldn’t be suggesting it if I didn’t think you were up to standard, Jasmine.”
“I’d really really love to audition,” I said in scarcely more than a whisper, my mouth felt so dry with excitement. “Even if I don’t get in, it’d be so brilliant just to audition.”
“You’ve got a jolly good chance of getting in, Jasmine. But we can cross that bridge when we come to it. I’ll be receiving the information about dates and places for the auditions at the end of April or the beginning of May, so we’ve got a few weeks yet. I just wanted to find out how you felt about the idea at this stage.”
“I feel over the moon,” I said.
“That’s great. Shall I leave you to ask your parents then?”
That tiny tug of worry was back. Might it be better if Miss Coralie asked them? I wasn’t sure, but I nodded anyway.
She looked at me carefully. “Good.”
As soon as I got into the changing room, Poppy grabbed both my hands and raised her eyebrows.
Tamsyn was talking but she stopped when she saw me and spoke in her not-really-interested voice. “So what did Miss Coralie want?”
I suddenly felt a bit shy about saying it out loud because the whole changing room was silent, waiting for me to speak, and I didn’t want to sound at all showy-offy.
“Erm…she thinks I ought to audition for the Royal Ballet Saturday classes,” I said very quietly.
“Oh, that’s so cool, Jazz!” said Poppy, jumping up and down, and clutching my wrists. Then everyone was congratulating me.
Tamsyn started looking in her bag again. I noticed she waited till it went quiet before she spoke. “Mum said that’s what I’m probably going to do, actually.”
“Wow! You lucky thing!” said Sophie. “I wish I was as talented as you two.”
“How come you didn’t mention that before, Tamsyn?” asked Immy.
“In case Jasmine felt bad,” replied Tamsyn. Then she turned right round to look at me. “Because your dad probably won’t let you do the audition, will he?”
Her words felt like big punches in my stomach. And then my mind started arguing with itself.
What if she’s right and my dad won’t let me do it?
No, that’s silly. Of course he’ll let me. He’s been totally fine about my ballet lessons ever since the show.
But this is different. Saturday lessons at Royal Ballet means you’re very serious about ballet.
Papa doesn’t know that I want it to be my career though, does he?
All the same, it would take up most of Saturday with the journey and he won’t be happy about that.
But it’s only an audition and it’s not for ages. What was it Miss Coralie said? “We can cross that bridge when we come to it.” Yes, it’s probably better not to say anything until we at least know the date. In fact, maybe I’ll ask Miss Coralie to tell my dad about it first.
That’s when the thoughts in my head stopped, and I realized Poppy was standing right beside me. We waited till everyone had gone back to their conversations, then, keeping our hands by our sides, we pressed our thumbs against each other’s. It’s called a thumb-thumb and it’s what we do for good luck. As our thumbs pressed together, I thought the very words that Poppy whispered under her breath, just loudly enough for me to hear.
Please let him say yes.
If you're mad about dancing, you'll love these Ballerina Dreams stories by Ann Bryant.
Disney Girl Magazine
An amazing amount of tears, tension and true grit is packed into this short novel. Sure to be a hit.
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Dancing with the stars
I think that dancing with the stars is the best book that i've ever read. I think this book is great for children to read especially girls!
Kelly, 3rd March 2007
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