(Based on Series 3 Episode 13)
Previously on Dance Academy – Bridging the Gap: Christian did what he had to do. He got ready, of sorts, turned up for interview and went through the motions, but he is no clearer to what he has to do now…
I may have been erring like a lost soul but it only takes to pass by the Memorial Studio for me to know exactly where I was going, and what I’m going to do.
Zach is there, alone, surrounded by plastic wrappings, tape, screws and the bottom half of a barre. The whole place is a mess, with sectioned off areas, tarpaulins and scaffoldings. And yet it’s so inviting, it’s where I want to be. The certitude takes hold of me and dissipates the frustration and the anger that had been churning in my stomach. And I feel lighter. For once I feel right.
‘You’re not gonna get the kids you want with ballet barres.’
Zach looks up and his face becomes alight with excitement, like I’m family, the prodigal son.
‘So?’ He shifts his weight from foot to foot, his hand still on the frame, but his arms stick out. ‘Come on, I wasn’t even that worked up on my own interview day.’
I put my bag down to prepare myself. ‘They changed it to the afternoon.’ The lie comes out so smooth he doesn’t even think it could be untrue. I’m that good at deception.
‘Grab the other end,’ he says.
I take hold of it and lift. ‘Does that make it official, you running the centre?’
The barre slides in its frame with a satisfying and easy click.
‘I told my wife to blame you.’ Zach screws the knob in to secure it. ‘How I’m going to fit it in with everything else, I do not know.’
But I do. He won’t have to do it all, not by himself anyway. ‘It’s worth it. At least it’s gonna be, if you – if you start the kids with hip hop and drip feed them ballet later.’
Zach snorts. ‘You know I wouldn’t recognise a pop from a lock, let alone those armchairs things that you do.’
If only I knew what those armchairs-things-that-I-do are supposed to be, but then he strikes a pause and I have to summon all the respect I hold for the man not to burst out laughing.
So we bust some moves. He learns fast. Of course he does, years of classical training does that to you. You only have to look once to memorise and for your body to translate what it sees into movements.
His attempt on the floor is decent, but it’s amazing how even in a free moving art form as hip hop there are still rules, dictated by physics, not snobs, but rules all the same.
‘That was good, but keep your feet underneath your bum at all times.’
I get a kick out of demonstrating his moves the way they should be done, or at least how I like them done. I have become the teacher. The role reversal is so smooth, so comfortable. This man is strength and humility all wrapped into one.
I end my sequence with a back flip. Zach is duly impressed, but jokes about his back and we get back to work. I lose myself in the simplicity of picking up the mess, tidying cables, sweeping the floors.
‘Christian, you’ve got to go.’
‘Trust me, this is not an appointment you can be late for.’
Trust. He has earned it, time and again. I will trust him from now on. So I turn round, fetch the folder from my bag and hand it to him. His reaction is priceless.
‘You’re kidding, right?’
I shake my head. No I am not kidding, and I won’t be kidding either when I’ll tell him I don’t want it. It’s his, he got me there. But it’s not my path.
Zach moves faster than I expected. I’m stuck in a bear hug before I can say a word. ‘I told you, didn’t I?’
‘I want you to keep it.’
‘Well, I can’t, it’s a contract, you’ve got to sign it.’
I shake my head again. After the shrugs, this is becoming my signature move for the day.
‘Ah no. No no no no, you’re not walking away, alright, not this time.’ Zach is coming towards me again. But I stand still.
‘I wanna-‘, I am so sure of myself, and yet the words catch in my throat. ‘I wanna work here. I want to teach.’
‘So do ten years in the company then be a teacher.’
Of course what he says makes sense, everyone would say that, everyone. But I’m not everyone, I never was. Here’s the head shake again. ‘I finally know what I want to do, I want to start doing it.’
And that must be compelling enough. Yes, he sighs and looks at me as if I’m mad, but then he just takes one more deep breath, tucks the contract at the back of his shorts, hands me my broom again and leaves with an armful of crates.