One Summer In France – Episode 13

“OK, guys, let’s take a short break,” Malik said.

Suzette, along with the rest of the dancers, breathed a sigh of gratitude.

The company had arrived in Monaco three days ago – three days which had been filled with rehearsals and little else. Today was the final one before the dress rehearsal tomorrow. Opening night would be on Friday with Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in the audience.

Back in her dressing-room in the Grimaldi Forum, Suzette poured herself some water and did a few stretching exercises to keep herself limbered up. Although she’d found Malik’s choreography challenging, she was enjoying dancing this modern ballet now she’d finally broken through and mastered its intricacies.

Her partner, Zac, a young, up-and-coming Russian, was good, and Suzette had rapidly felt confident in their on-stage chemistry.

There was a discreet knock on the door before Malik entered.

“Are you ready for the last scene in Act Three?”

Suzette nodded. It was a long, complicated piece with her doing several grand jetés in mid-air, before an emotional dance with Zac which involved her jumping into his arms.

“I think so. I’m a bit worried about doing the splits in mid-air, actually,” she said. “My dancing repertoire hasn’t featured them much recently.”

“You mastered them yesterday,” Malik assured her.

Back down in the theatre, Suzette went through her stretching exercises while Malik put the corps de ballet through their routine.

Standing in the wings waiting for her introductory music to play, Suzette felt the shiver of nervous anticipation she always experienced before she danced on stage. This is what she lived for.

Zac, in the opposite wing, smiled across at her, before striding on to the stage ready for the first of their pas de deux. Five seconds later Suzette joined him and their bodies synchronised together in the flowing ballet movements as everything else faded away and they concentrated on their dancing.

Suzette executed a final perfect mid-air jump when disaster struck. Landing badly, she end up in a crumpled heap on the wooden stage.

“Stop the music!” Malik shouted as he rushed to her side. “Get the doctor.”

“No,” Suzette said. “I don’t need the doctor. I’ll be fine. Just give me ten minutes and a cold compress. Help me up, please.” She held out a hand to Malik.

Even as Malik gently pulled her on to her feet before placing an arm around her shoulders to steady her, Suzette knew she was in real trouble. Experience told her that this injury was not going to heal quickly.

After the cold compress had been applied, Malik insisted she took a cab back to the hotel.

“It is impossible for you to dance again today, Suzette. Maybe with some rest and ice.” He shrugged. “We’ll see.”

Suzette could tell he was already mentally assessing the options he had.

Once in her hotel room Suzette gave way to the tears that had been threatening from the second she’d fallen. That final jump had been perfect, so how could she have been so stupid as to mess up the landing and ruin everything? Thank heavens it hadn’t happened on opening night in front of the Prince and Princess. Her shame would have been absolute.


Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.