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|11th Apr 2017, 3:13 PM||The Kiss of the Swan #1|
Join Date: May 2012
Each night Tamara would watch from the wings in silent adoration as Radetskaya danced.
It was more than simple admiration for a fellow artiste – a greater artiste than she could ever hope to be. It was more than mere hero worship. It was love. A high and spiritual love, she told herself. She had little hope of ever rising higher in her profession, and would probably have left the company long ago, except that it would have taken her was from her, for whom she would gladly have lain down her life.
How could she ever confess to such things? Olga Ratetskaya was a great prima ballerina, probably the greatest of her generation, whilst Tamara was a lowly member of the corps de ballet, scarcely visible to such an exalted being. Radetskaya was proud, as they all were, but not aloof or cruel. There was a warmth and a kindness in her smile, and a gentleness of spirit. Of this Tamara could be sure, for she had seen it once, briefly.
It had been the opening night of Tamara’s first Swan Lake, and Radetskaya was to dance Odette. The Little Swans had clubbed together to buy a gift for their Queen, and to her delight (and also horror) Tamara was elected to make the presentation. It had caused a minor sensation when she had ventured into that area of the wings traditionally reserved for principals, and only her great love would have induced such a timid creature to approach so hallowed a place. Watched by all, she had come forward, curtsied, presented her small tribute and whispered “From all of us Madame”.
The radiance of the Queen, her make-up lending her a strange and other-worldly beauty, high and worshipful, was hardly to be born by any earthbound creature. Tamara felt shrunken before her. But Radetskaya smiled and, to the astonishment of all the other ‘great ones', she leaned forward and kissed her small acolyte.
“The nerve of the creature!” some had exclaimed afterwards.
But Olga Radetskaya had only laughed. “Nonsense!” she said. “The poor child meant no harm, and I was very touched by her gesture.”
For Tamara that had been the fateful, fairy’s kiss that had bound her forever. Something very special had passed between them. Something that, for a time, would sleep, but would soon waken and blossom into into something quite unforeseen.
Then had come the accident for which the world of dance has long mourned. Radetskaya’s courage during her recovery earned the respect and love of the world. But her spine was shattered beyond repair, and she would never dance again. Tamara’s heart came close to breaking then. She sat by her Queen’s bedside and wept long. Since the time of the kiss, a friendship had begun to grow between those two. Tamara had meant to leave the ballet and devote her life to Olga’s care, but she forbade it. She must go on with her dancing. Olga even persuaded her old teacher, Madame Karpova to train her young protege. And, although Tamara now believed that dancing would no longer give her any joy, she was determined to work hard if it would give pleasure to Olga Radetskaya, who would always be her Queen, and her friend.
As time passed it became clear, as she trained, that a greater spirit than she had believed she possessed now moved within her. She danced as she had never dreamed she could. Her rise in the Great Company was to be a rapid one. First she was promoted to coryphee, then to soloist and finally to greatest honour of her profession: prima ballerina. When she made her debut in Swan Lake, there were many who swore they had watched Radetskaya dance once more.
It was only then that Tamara truly recognised the thing which had passed between them with that kiss. In that moment of mutual recognition, a Queen had passed on her crown to her successor. And often afterwards, as she danced, seeing her own reflection in the studio mirror, or even sometimes before an audience, it seemed as if not she but another, greater than her, was dancing. And sometimes it seemed that, as before, she merely watched from the wings as a wondrous creature danced for her adoration. Her body had become the mere vessel of a glorious, immortal spirit, that could not be crushed or broken, but would dance forever.