This five-minute write is based off an old story idea I have had in my head for a couple of years, ever since I saw The Dancer exhibit. There were paintings from Degas, Forain and Toulouse-Lautrec. One of the subject matters of the paintings were the lurking men in top hats, patrons of the dancers, called Abonnés. The abonné had access backstage during and after the dance productions. They often supported a dancer as a patron and this was a part of the young ballerina’s survival, since most dancers made very little, barely enough to eat. Many of the young girls mother’s found these wealthy men as the only help for themselves and their daughters, of course the price most often came in sexual favors forcing the young ballerina’s into a high society form of prostitution. The demand for female ballerina’s was so high (in France during the late 1800’s) that male dancers were often excluded from the stage and the male parts were performed by a female dancer dressed as a man.
In order to do any justice to this story I would need to do far more research than what I have, but as of now I have only thought of it as a short story.
Giselle’s feet were aching. She loosened the satin pink ribbon from her ankles and with the palm of her hand she eased her heel out of the slipper.
“He is looking at you.” Sophia whispered into her ear.
She did not look up. Her shoulders heaved with pain and exasperation as she removed her cramped toes from the remainder of her shoe. Stains of blood were beginning to seep through the threads of her wrap.
Sophia draped her arm around Giselle’s waist. They were seated together under the dancers bar in the far corner of the classroom.
“You need new shoes,” She whispered.
“I know.” Said Giselle, “but we can not afford them.”
“He can.” Sophia nodded at the man standing in the corner of the room. He was tall with long legs like lamp posts and a round hard belly that bulged like he had shoved a ball under his shirt to make children laugh. His face was round with thick tuffs of hair growing out of the sides of his jowls.
“Why wont you look at him?” Whispered Sophia. “He obviously is interested in you and he can help you.”
“He is old Sophia, he is an old man. He is older than my father.”
“He is also richer than your father.”
Giselle sighed and began to unwrap her throbbing foot. As the binding loosened the blood rushed into the toes with a pin pricking pain. Sophia’s mother stood chatting with the abonne‘ smiling and gesturing to her daughter.
“It looks as if your mother is vying for your attention.” Giselle said, not looking at Sophia.
“Oh.” She said. She removed her arm from around Giselle’s waist to pluck at the gossamer fabric of her dance skirt. “You need him far more than me.”
“I don’t need him.” Giselle snapped at her.
“You do look at your feet, how will you dance tomorrow?”
“I don’t need him. I don’t need any of them. My feet will heal.”
“No, I will find a way. When I am old enough, I will find a way.”