14 year old Liliana woke up to see her lavender-coloured fan spinning around and round. It was December, in a little town called Lavender Hill, in NSW in Australia. She gazed and daydreamed for a while, then realized her dance classes started in 15 minutes!
"I need to get ready!" Liliana rushed downstairs to eat, with her sisters (except 15 year old Edwina, who was a jazz dancer) giggling away at the way she was rushing, and put her dance uniform on. Liliana was a ballet and modern dancer, student at Lavender Hill Dance School.
Liliana, Edwina and her 11 year old twin sisters Autumn and Olive were practising hard for the annual Lavender Hill Dance Show which was in just 2 days. Liliana did ballet and modern, the twins did tap and Edwina did jazz. 16 year old Antonia didn't take dance lessons, but would often go onto the street with random strangers to do breakdancing.
Liliana jumped onto her bicycle and cycled as fast as she could to lessons. She was already supposed to be there, since it was now 10 o'clock. By the time she arrived, she was 5 minutes late.
"Sorry I'm late, Miss Jazz." Liliana slipped into the dance studio for her classical rehearsal. She soon picked up where they were in the dance. Liliana had very strong feet, and so she was good at arabesques and grand jetes.
After classical ballet class, next was the modern dance rehearsal.
"Which is your favourite, Lil?" said Liliana's best friend Jacqueline in between classes. "Classical or modern?"
"Maybe modern, actually." replied Liliana. Ballet used to be her favourite, but slowly and eventually she liked modern slightly more.
Liliana danced around in her modern rehearsal, remembering all the steps, for she had practised all week.
"How is your solo going, Jacqui?" asked Liliana to Jacqui afterwards. "Oh, it's going great. I've worked for months on it!" replied Jacqui.
"I think you would do great with a solo." whispered Jacqui. "You choreograph very quickly, and it is usually fantastic."
Liliana sighed. "I can't dance a solo in front of hundreds of people. You know that, Jacqueline."
"I'm not pressuring you, but it would be just awesome!" said Jacqueline.
"It's too late now, anyway." said Liliana. "There's only two days to go!"
"It'll feel like less if you girls stop chattering and work on your dances." interrupted Miss Jazz who was walking by. "We haven't much time!"
After rehearsing for a few hours, Liliana passed by Edwina and the twins on her bike who appeared to her to be on their way to classes.
"What's wrong?" called Liliana. "Why so long faces?"
Edwina just let out a sigh, and the twins kept their head down.
"Weird." muttered Liliana.
Liliana skipped into the door at the house, very excited about the show. She was so pumped until she looked up and saw Antonia's face.
"What's wrong, Toni? Being your usual miserable self?" commented Liliana. Usually Antonia would snarl something back, but instead she looked at Liliana tearfully.
"Liliana." Antonia said quietly. "I have bad "old"s."
"W-what is it?" I said nervously.
"Mom has fallen, and she's broken her leg, and it's serious. She had to be flown to Citybrook Hospital, and will have to stay there for a couple of days. Dad wants to stay at Citybrook all the days there so he can be nearby, and he's found no one to look after us. So, we'll have to come and stay at Citybrook too. Which means, you and the sisters will miss out on the concert." said Antonia.
The words hit me like a big punch in the face.
With Mom seriously injured over at Citybrook hospital, and because we'd obviously come with Dad and stay to look after her, Autumn, Olive, Edwina and I were going to miss out on the concert too, which we had been working so hard on.
"Where is everyone?" I replied.
"They rode down to the dance school to break the "old"s to everyone." said Antonia.
"And they just rode on by without telling me!" I said bitterly.
About an hour later, when we all were packed and ready to go to Citybrook to see Mom, our car pulled out of the driveway. It took 3 hours to drive to Citybrook, so it was a long drive. We finally made it to the hospital room to see Mom. You could see she was very injured.
We stayed in the hospital room for quite a while. Everybody was feeling gloomy. Eventually, Mom said, "They say that I could be well enough to leave in two days time, in the morning."
The twins, Edwina and my eyes all brighten up, even Antonia, who is usually her miserable self.
"We could make it to the concert!" grinned Olive.
"Yes, girls, that's what I immediately thought. I didn't want you to miss out on the concert. Hopefully, if I'm well enough, we can go!" Sure enough, after two days, in the morning, Mom's broken leg was in a plaster, and she had crutches. She didn't have a lot of pain, and she was ready to go. By the time we all got home, it was 5 o'clock, and so we enough time to get ready to be at the Lavender Hill High School hall for the concert at 6 o'clock.
My sisters and I arrived just in time and got backstage to see all our friends and reassure them we were participating. They were very pleased and happy to see us.
"I'm sooooo excited for my solo!" squealed Jacqui as she jumped up and down backstage. We were just about to go onstage for our contemporary group dance.
"Boy, you'd be fantastic if you did a solo. Can't you do one next year, Lil?" said Jacqueline.
"No, Jacqui. We both know that I'd get stage fright." I replied. Jacqui sighed. "Liliana, if only you k"old" that you have it in you. I know you do. I just know it."
Soon enough, we were onstage and performing our contemporary group dance. It was a success, and everyone on stage was doing amazing. Just at the end, I looked over to smile at Jacqueline, as if to say we'd all done a great job, just after we'd done the last jump. But when I looked over, something stopped me from smiling, from Jacqueline's look. I could see, she had pain in her eyes.
Something was wrong.
"Liliana......" groaned Jacqui faintly when the curtains closed.
"What's wrong, Jacqui?" I ran over to her as soon as I could.
"My leg.......it's broken. I can't do the-" Jacqui mumbled as some adults backstage ran over to help Jacqui.
"The solo." I finished. "You won't be able to do the solo!"
"We'll have to cancel the solo." said Miss Jazz. "You can't dance with a broken leg, Jacqueline."
Jacqui looked me in the eye then and right there I knew what she was trying to say.
"I volunteer!" I blurted out as a miserable Jacqui was carried backstage. "I'll do the solo!"
Everyone was shocked.
"Are you - are you sure, Liliana? You haven't got any choreography done, and the solo is up next after the Junior Tap's performance!" exclaimed Miss Dale.
"I'll try and make it up as I go." I responded. "Please, for Jacqui? She's so dissapointed about the solo."
"You may, Liliana. I know you're very good at solos." smiled Miss Jazz.
Great. Just great (not). After this tap dance, I was to perform a solo in front of hundreds of people; a solo which I haven't choreographed or practiced. I'm not even good at solos!
Soon enough, it was my turn to take the stage and wait for those nerve wracking red curtains to open.
I took a deep breath as I crept onto the stage. The royal red curtains slowly slid open, and I stood up straight, to look confident. The nearly blinding, pink lights shone on me and there I was staring at all these people expecting a child prodigy like Jacqui. Instead, it was just little ol' me.
The music started, and I closed my eyes and tried to imagine myself dancing back at the studio secretly, when no one was watching. As soon as I'd hear someone coming down the hallway, or opening the door, I'd quickly stop and pretend to stretch or something. My secret dream; to perform a solo was coming true now, but part of me didn't want to. Probably because I didn't know what to do!
I danced around and imagined everything around me was the Lavender Hill dance studio and like I said, I was by myself, and I found myself enjoying this made up solo, because I made myself forgot the crowds. Time seemed to fly fast when I danced by myself. At the end of my dance, the crowds were roaring. Rose bouquets were tossed at my feet, as I bowed down. I couldn't believe it! My dream had come true!
The curtains closed slowly, and once they closed, my classmates and sisters came running towards me. "Liliana! Liliana, that was amazing! Even the principal of The Australian Ballet School is impressed."
I immediately thought of Jacqueline. "How is she?" I questioned Miss Jazz.
"She is at the hospital, and doesn't know yet that you did the solo. She must be feeling miserable right now, but once we tell her what happened I think that'll lighten her up!" replied Miss Jazz.
I haven't felt that happy before, about my solo. I thought I'd be a failure! I have to say, for the first time in my life, I actually felt confident.
The rest of the dance show was a huge success. Bouquets after bouquets were thrown onto the stage by captivated spectators!
I couldn't help smiling to see all my other classmates happy and excited.
"If only Jacqui could see all this." I thought.
"I must visit her in the hospital to tell her about the show and see if she's okay."
But there was no need to.
"Someone's here to see you, Liliana!" smiled Miss Jazz while we were all backstage packing up everything.
Around the corner came Jacqui! "I heard all about the solo. I knew you could do it, Liliana, I just knew it."
"Well, I'm glad you're much better, though now that you've crutches, I suppose you won't be dancing for awhile." I replied.
"Oh, only a few weeks." replied an optimistic Jacqui.
I know that I'd be very upset if I couldn't dance for a few weeks!
In the morning, after I just finished my breakfast, I heard something fall on the ground outside the front door. "It must be a letter or something!" I said aloud to myself. I opened up the door and lo and behold, a letter was on the welcome mat with 'The Australian Ballet' in the top left corner! I couldn't believe it!
I ripped open the seal and saw it was from the Principal of the Australian Ballet (whom was at the concert), and she said that I had won front row tickets for me and some friends and family to The Nutcracker at the Opera House! I was so excited. Today was already a great day, and it was barely 8am.
And so, as I sat with some of my friends and my family watching The Nutcracker in Sydney, I thought and smiled to myself.