Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Russian Dancer

The year was 1916, the world was in the bliss of richness and indulgence. Young men left school or returned from the war to take the Grand Tour, the journey through Europe as they had always done. One of those men was William Andrew Reeves IV. However he was know by all his fellows and friends as merely Andrew.

Andrew followed the Grand Tour through misty Edinburg, spicy Madrid, a few weeks in romantic Paris, and then through Geneva towards the Hague. As his journey grew near its end, a school fellow named Antov invited him to Petrograd for a fortnight. As Andrew boarded the locomotive, he had no idea how his life would change.

Antov’s family were of old Russian blood, in line for the throne, though relatively far down the line. And like so many would-be-royals, they were continually trying to claw higher up. Much to Andrew’s amusement, he was dragged along with them to plays, ballets, and operas that the Tsar and his family might be attending. And it was on one such night that he met Elena.

He walked in through the glass doors and up the plush red carpet stairway as the woman in the large minx coat in front of him dropped her glove. He had picked it up, and as he looked up he saw the face of an angel. Wordlessly their eyes had met for a few brief moments before he had gently let the white glove drop into her hand. Her fingers had curled around the glove slowly, her brilliant eyes not leaving his.

Then she was gone. He walked in to the lobby and found Antov, who seemed peeved that the tsar was not present. While Antov continued lamenting, Andrew merely smiled and nodded as he scanned the crowded lobby to catch a glimpse of the woman with the glove. But she was nowhere to be found. Finally, the show was about to begin and so he gave up and went into the dark concert hall.

The gas lights were all dimmed and the heavy velvet curtain raised as the soft violins began to play. They played and several women in leotards and gossamer skirts moved across the stage in fluid movements, like serene swans floating on a crystal lake. The light pink and powder blue swan maidens move across the stage with grace and beauty.

Then the violins stopped, and the swans froze. A new instrument rang out soft but clear, like small snowflake feet treading the surface of a frozen lake. The sound of icicles in the breeze gently tinkling against each other. And then she appeared. Andrew sat up in his seat as he saw her. It was the lady with the glove.

She was dressed as the others, but in pure white, with swan feathers adorning her dress and interwoven into her hair. She seemed for all the world to be a beautiful swan queen brought to life from some amazing fairy tale. And then she brought one slippered foot forward and rose up on that one point. And she danced.

As she danced, he felt himself loose track of time, of where he was, or who he was with. Nothing else mattered but her, and him, and this sacred moment in time. The music was there but it no longer mattered. As she finished a motion and pirouetted she looked up and her eyes met his. As if to make sure he was there.

And in what would have only been a moment for everyone else in the small dark theater, was a lifetime of conversation passing between the two. Their hearts and their very souls became one in that moment. As she continued dancing he felt as if he were right there, with her, guiding her with his heart, following her with his soul. When he feared she was about to loose her balance, he almost leapt from his seat to steady her, to offer her his strength. And as she flew across the stage, he wept for the amazing beauty and grace he had been allowed experiance.

And as she finished, spinning again on that one point, from somewhere above her, silver flecks floated down like snow, landing on her dress and skin, as if all of heaven was standing still to watch the displace of beauty and grace. And as she stopped, one leg stretched out behind, one arm ahead, she turned ever so slightly and whispered to him with her eyes. And then the curtain closed.

He jumped from his seat amid the applause, running out, looking for the dressing room. He searched but the theater was impossibly built. He finally found the dressing room. She was gone. All that remained was a small note, written in smooth script.

“To the man with the beautiful eyes,

Thank you again for retrieving my glove. I hope you enjoyed the show tonight. I will be dancing at the Royal Theater tomorrow night. There will be a seat reserved in the front, simply ask the usher for my special seat and he will show you where it is.


The next night Andrew was there. He was sitting in the very front, a stone’s throw away from the tsar himself who had decided to come that night. Even as Andrew thought of the humor in Antov’s refusal to come with him, his mind settled on the beautiful woman from the previous evening.

The show began. It was more magical than before. Her movements were even more graceful, her eyes spoke longer this time. He knew in that instant he had fallen in love. After she was done he ran to the backroom with a large bouquet of roses in his arms.


“Yes?” she said smiling as he approached.

“My name is Andrew.” He said handing her the roses, “You were magnificent tonight.”

“Thank you.” She said shyly as she blushed deeply, “I am glad you found my note. And that you came.”

“I would not have missed it for the world.” He said feeling himself growing breathless in her presence.

“Can I tell you something?” she said as she leaned forward and whispered, “Promise you won’t laugh?”

All he could do was nod as he felt the cascading heat from her lily perfume fall upon him, draining his ability to speak.

“Tonight, when I danced, I only danced for you.” She said as she took a step back, allowing him to focus again.

“For me?” he said in shock as the realization of her words dawned on him, “W-why?”

“I don’t know. It was as if, when I dance and you watch, you are there with me. Moving with me, catching me when I feel like I’m loosing my balance.” She said smiling, “I know it may sound silly. But its true.”

“I don’t think it sounds silly at all.” He said taking her free hand and gently kissing the soft skin, “When can I see you again?”

“I will dance again tomorrow night. At the Winter Palace. The Dowager Empress said I could invite anyone I wanted to come along. Will you be there?” she asked almost with a ting of fear.

“Of course.” he said smiling, “I would not miss it for the world.”

The next night came all too soon, and it was the night Andrew would never forget. He walked in the magnificent hallway, the calls of envy and indignation from, Antov long gone, and was escorted to the private theater in the Palace. There he was seated next to the Dowager Empress herself, who seemed to be watching him almost as closely as she was watching Elena.

The dance began. He could feel Elena’s apprehension and nervousness as she began. He lent her all of his strength, speaking words of comfort and reassurance in his heart. As if hearing him, she straightened, smiled, and their eyes met. And for the rest of her dance, she did not look away. As the final note was played and she finished in her graceful pose, the entire royal family clapped, Andrew only being able to watch and smile.

“Come here dear girl,” the empress said as the rest of the family went to the parlor room, “Tell me, how long have you been dancing ballet?”

“Your Highness, almost my entire life.” She said as she bowed.

“Hmmm. Not much time for pursuing the other things a girl needs in life. Such as love.” The empress more stated than asked.

“Well… um.” Elena blushed bowing again.

“And you lad.” She said turning on Andrew, “You are not Russian are you?”

“No Your Highness, I am from the Netherlands. From Orange actually.” He spoke bowing as well.

“Enough bowing! What I am speaking of is serious.” She said coming closer to both, “My son thinks I am blind but I am not. The city is bursting with revolutionaries. It will not be soon before, I fear, things will turn for the worst here in Russia. And when that happens, we, the Russian people cannot afford the world to forget the greatness of our empire and our people. So I, as Dowager Empress of Russia, and relative to your King Willem of Orange, charge you to escort this girl and her entire troupe of our national ballet, out of the country. Take them somewhere where they will be safe, and let them continue showing the world the beauty of our people.”

“But my manger.” Elena protested.

“Ha! He will not defy an order from the Tsar. Besides, I think its time you left him anyway.” She said dismissively, “Our laws state that if you were to get married now, your contract with him would be void. Now if only there was someone willing to marry you.”

The Dowager Empress smiled slyly as she walked away, saying to the two shocked youths behind her, “Come. Your destinies are upon you. The time for a decision has arrived. Just choose quickly or you will loose everything.”

And so it came to pass as the Empress has foreseen. The revolution began in February and Andrew escorted the troupe, along with Elena, out to Holland. Later he went with them on tour, to be with his wife as she continued dancing. And then, three years later, she performed her last performance in Copenhagen, and in the very back sat a much aged Dowager Empress, exiled from her own land too.

That night, even with words of the new regime’s cruelties in the headlines, no eye was dry as the beautiful dancer danced her soul out to the audience. The impression she left was unforgettable in every eye that saw her. And the Empress smiled happily as she saw the room burst into applause, and the young man Andrew, jump on stage and kiss the woman he loved. Even in dark hours, lights still remained shining, and the hope of youth is never extinguished.


LOL Just my little attempt at Historical Fiction. :D


  1. Awe...So cute! I loved it! It was absolutely beautiful! Just what I needed on a relaxed Christmas Day!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Dit was omgeloofluk (seekerluk verkeerd gespel, maar jammer). Dit maak my sommer weer lys om te dans!