I watch her practice the choreography to the music only she can hear. From what I’ve heard, she’s the main dancer of the coming ballet performance in our theatre. She has a week to perfect her dance. I’ve heard the song they play plenty of times since I work with the orchestra. Her movements look free, easy even. But I know that’s not what ballet is like. Although I never got the chance to try it, I hear how our backup dancers complain about it. I always admire the soft movements even if I myself can’t dance.
She sighs and paces, muttering something to herself about the rhythm. Being unsure about any reaction she could have to seeing me watching, I step back further into the shadows of the curtain. I stay silent as I study the move she repeats over and over. Though I can’t see what she doesn’t like about it, I’m sure she knows something about it isn’t right. When I notice her trying to hum the song as she does it, I make my decision. My feet carry me off the stage and to the piano. Most of the other instruments are in one of the back rooms or in the player’s possession but the piano is always there. I do my best to remember the notes. If I could just get the start right, my fingers would be guided by muscle memory. Here goes nothing. The tune fills the room. My hands drift softly over the keys the way the dancer’s movements over the floor. I pause just before the part where she comes in and look up at her. She’s surprised, but when I give her a reassuring nod, she moves into the starting position. I continue. I’d seen the dance being performed before, but when she did it, it truly melted into the song. Every step she made and every movement was full of expression and grace. It didn’t feel like I was playing the song, but like she was creating it. The music filled the room and so did she. When it drew to an end, I didn’t have any words. I’d fallen for her dance completely.