My Ranking Points
“Why are you in such a hurry?” Natasha asked Polina as she pulled her by the arm towards the dance studio. “Classes don’t start for another twenty minutes!”
“I like to be early!” Polina said, smiling.
“I can see that,” Natasha said under her breath. Polina laughed.
“I have to talk to Grace. Remember, you have to be in Dance Troupe to go to Leo and compete!” Polina explained.
“I really don’t think I’m good enough to be in Dance Troupe.”
“Nonsense! You’re no worse than the girls in that troupe. And this has to work. It’s our only plan.”
“I guess so.”
A few minutes later, Polina and Natasha arrived in front of the dance studio. Polina beamed and rushed to open the door as Natasha followed, swinging the duffel bag that contained her dance clothes. Polina held open the door as Natasha stepped inside, and then Polina rushed to sign in.
“Hi, Grace,” Polina said to the receptionist.
“Hello, Polina. You’re all-“Grace typed on her keyboard and clicked something with her mouse. “Good to go! Don’t forget that Dance Troup practices today, from 7:30 to 8:20.”
“Thank you. Um… there’s also something I’d like to talk to you about,” Polina said, glancing out into the waiting room where Natasha was sitting in an overstuffed waiting room chair, swinging her feet.
“Like what, sweetie?”
“My friend, Natasha…”
“Oh, yes… I have something to tell her as well…” Grace muttered while clicking away on her keyboard once again.
“Well, I was wondering… Can she be in Dance Troupe?” Polina asked nervously.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to her about. Is she out in the waiting area?”
“I’ll sign her in in just a moment. Could you tell her that one of the Troupe dancers has graduated from the studio and from school last year? Now, there was a mix-up in the files, and her graduation wasn’t recorded. There is a position open in the Troupe. Normally, someone with at least a year of previous dance experience would be chosen, but Natasha is the best option we have, especially with the Leo competition coming up in a few weeks and most of our best dancers being already in the Troupe or injured. We’re all very proud of Natasha, especially because this is her first year.”
Polina silently squealed. The plan was working!
“Natasha’s eleven or over, too, right?”
“Good. If she was any younger, she wouldn’t be eligible for the Troupe. Alright, I’ll sign her in; you just go tell her that, and that troupe practice is tonight. Thank you, Polina!”
Polina exited the office and ran over to Natasha.
“You’re in the Troupe!” Polina squealed excitedly, proceeding to tell Natasha everything Grace had said. Natasha looked shocked.
“I didn’t think this would work,” she murmured.
“But it did!” Polina said, pirouetting the length of the waiting room. “Now come on, let’s go get ready for class!”
5 minutes later, Natasha and Polina, as well as a crowd of chatting and giggling girls, stood in front of Studio A, decked out in their Pre-Pointe attire. Polina was wearing a black leotard with spaghetti straps, white tights, a light pink wrap-around skirt, and light pink leg warmers. Her hair was in a perfect ballet bun. Polina’s mother had gone shopping for dance clothes shortly after she had noticed that some of Polina’s clothes from last year looked short and the shoes were too tight. Natasha was wearing a black leotard and white tights. Her hair was in a braided bun. Polina had had fun going dance supply shopping with Natasha, who needed new everything. The girls had put tour dance bags into our lockers in the dressing room.
“Oh, and don’t forget that dance is until 8:20 today, because we have Traditional European Dances and Troupe practice after Pre-Pointe,” Polina said to Natasha.
“Wednesdays,” Natasha said, shaking her head.
Suddenly, the door to Studio A swung open, and Natasha and Polina were crowded into a huge room with beautiful windows that showed off the amazing view of Capricorn. The 15 girls in the class took their places at the barre and began to warm up with stretches. Even though it was the fourth week of practices, some of the girls had trouble.
Finally, the teacher walked in. Madame Valentina was a tall, skinny, dark-haired, pale woman who was very nice but strict when necessary. Madame Valentina stood at the front and gave instructions while piano music began to play.
The girls followed the instructions and danced.
After an evening of dancing, Natasha and Polina were worn out. It wasn’t even dark out yet, so they were able to walk home by themselves.
“Did you like dance today?” Polina asked Natasha expectantly.
“You know, I did enjoy Hopak,” Natasha replied, speaking of the Ukrainian traditional dance that they had started to learn that day.
“Next week we’re supposed to practice it with the boys’ class,” Polina said glumly. “I can’t wait,” Polina continued sarcastically.
“Think of it like this: two weeks after that will be the competition in Leo!” Natasha said.
“Like that’s any better! I know we’ll be able to find August and Rose, and that’s good, but I’m soo nervous!” Polina said.
“Well it’s the first time for both of us, so you won’t be alone.”
Polina smiled. “This is my house. Bye!”
“Bye!” Natasha said, waving as Polina climbed the steps to her house and entered.
A few weeks later, it was two days before the flight to Leo. Natasha and Polina had never taken a flight to Leo or competed in a dance competition before, so they basically didn’t know what to take or what it would be like. Grace had been kind enough to make packing lists for them and the other new girls in the Troupe, and Natasha and Polina were in Polina’s living room, packing.
“What’s this?” Natasha asked Polina, holding up a stretchy large band. Polina laughed.
“That’s a tool I use for stretching. It helps in ballet, to help you hold your split or to hold one leg above you head. You should try it sometime!”
Natasha didn’t answer, just tossed the band playfully in Polina’s direction. Polina’s white duffel bag lay in front of her, and a separate suitcase stood, already packed, by the couch. In the suitcase were her normal clothes, while Polina was busy packing dance clothes and gear into her duffel bag. Natasha’s bag was open at her feet, partially filled with dance supplies. At the studio, their Troupe leader had informed them that they would be having fun with several hour-long dance workshops after their Troupe competed, so that the girls could practice while waiting for the competition results, which usually took about two to three days. While the other girls had cheered at the thought of getting to experience the type of classes they had in Leo, Natasha and Polina had groaned. This would make it even harder to sneak away.
Polina’s mother had invited Natasha over for dinner, and Natasha, after walking to her house after school to check with her mom, had reported that her mom had agreed. Now Polina’s mom was working on vegetable soup, homemade bread, and a salad in the kitchen, and had declined any help that the girls had offered.
Polina and Natasha had already packed all of their dance shoes, as well as the black jazz shoes that all Troupe members were required to have as part of the costume/uniform. Troupe was, after all, more of a jazz dance. In addition, Polina had packed two black leotards, a dark blue unitard, two pairs of white tights, a pair of white reversible tights, and a pair of black spandex shorts. Now she was busy folding the rest of her gear and arranging it carefully in her bag.
“Do you think our Troupe’s going to win?” Polina asked Natasha as she folded a pair of black sports leggings.
“I don’t know,” Natasha said carefully as she folded a dark purple unitard. “But I think I’m starting to like dance a bit more, so I hope so.”
“I knew you would like it if you gave dance a chance!” Polina said teasingly. Natasha smiled.
“Well, it’s not exactly my favorite hobby ever…” Natasha said. “But we’ve got to do what it takes to find out what happened to Pisces Academy, and if anyone else, besides August and us, is feeling the same way.”
Polina nodded, pretending to concentrate on fitting three pairs of leggings into a section of her bag.
“Natasha?” Polina asked when she couldn’t stall any longer. “Do you think you’ll continue dance next year? When it doesn’t contribute to finding the answer to this mystery?”
Natasha didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally she looked up at Polina. “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said.
Polina nodded and turned back to the small pile of dance clothing that she had yet to fold and stuff in her bag.
“Girls, dinner!” Polina’s mom called to them from the kitchen. Polina dropped a pair of grey sweatpants and hurried to the bathroom to wash her hands. Natasha followed Polina, not really knowing where everything was in Polina’s house yet.
In the kitchen, Polina helped her mom carry food into the dining room. Polina’s mom gestured to Natasha to sit down while Polina placed silverware delicately around the table. Polina had always enjoyed that chore.
Finally, everyone was sitting around the dining room table and had prayed. There were no noises, mind the gentle clinking of plates and silverware.
“Do you want to go over how this entire thing will work?” Polina asked her mom and Natasha after finishing her salad and soup.
“Sure,” her mom said, and Natasha nodded.
“Okay. Well, tomorrow we’ll get planned absence forms and collect our homework for the days we’ll be missing. Then, the day after tomorrow, instead of going to school, all the girls in the Troupe will meet at the Studio. We need to take all of our luggage, too.”
Natasha and Polina’s mom nodded as she continued.
“We’ll take the train to the airport, which is about two hours away. Our flight leaves at 11:30, so we can spend some time with our parents before the plane ride. We’ll only get to Los Angeles the next day. In Los Angeles, we will sign into the Leo Dance Company main campus, where the competition will be taking place and we’ll be staying. Natasha and I will be rooming with each other, and the other Troupe members will be in dorms along the same hallway. Everyone will have two hours of rest time in their dorms before practice for the competition starts. We’re scheduled to compete during the second day of the competition, because there are so many troupes competing. The results should be out a couple of days after every studio’s team competes.”
Polina’s mom nodded again, while Natasha looked deep in thought.
“Well, are you girls excited?” Polina’s mom asked, smiling. “Even though it’s a nerve-wracking competition, it’s still a chance to travel and see a new place!”
“Yep,” Polina said.
“Especially for you, Polya,” Polina’s mom said, calling Polina by her scarcely-used nickname. “I remember a few weeks ago you were asking to go to Los Angeles! Now you’ve got your opportunity!”
“I guess so,” Polina smiled.
“Anyway, I think you still have some packing left to do. You still have some time before your parents want you back, right Natasha?”
“Yes,” Natasha said politely, finishing the last sips of her soup.
“Well, then, I daresay your mother would like you packed for the trip, too!” Polina’s mom laughed.
“Thank you for the delicious food,” Polina told her mom in Russian, kissing her on the cheek. Natasha said thank you as well and followed Polina out to the living room to finish packing.
Once in the living room, Polina quickly folded her pairs of black sweatpants and stuck them beside the grey sweatpants inside her bag. Then she put a new package of hair ties into the duffel bag as well. Finally, Polina zipped up the bag and placed a lock on it.
Polina was so excited for the upcoming competition. But she only wondered if Polina and Natasha would succeed in their secret mission to gain knowledge.
The entire train ride, Polina sat with my mom across from Natasha and her parents. Polina stared out the window, missing her dad and thinking about the upcoming flight and competition. It was more or less a quiet ride, the city being something Polina was used to.
In the airport, Polina’s mom led Polina through all of the metal detectors and ramps until they came to an area full of chairs. Here they were to wait until boarding for the flight started. Polina’s mom bought her a bottle of water and a chocolate bar for the flight, which Polina stuck into her purse as they sat next to the other girls in the Troupe and their parents.
Polina was wearing black leggings, a stylish jean skirt, a ballerina t-shirt, and a no-sleeved jean jacket. Her mother had given Polina a small black purse, which now contained Polina’s phone, a stick of solid sunscreen (liquids weren’t allowed on airplanes), and an SPF 30 lip balm. Polina’s mom had learned that it was supposed to be very hot and sunny in Los Angeles, and she didn’t want Polina to risk being hurt or sunburned.
“Flight A3 to Los Angeles, Leo, is now boarding. Please come to Gate A,” a pleasant voice said over an intercom.
Polina stood up and turned around to face her mom.
“Well, this is it,” Polina’s mom said.
“Yeah,” Polina nodded. She couldn’t imagine how difficult this would be for her mom, without Polina or Polina’s dad.
“Make sure to stay safe. Stay away from criminals. Always stay with your troupe leader or with the other girls. And don’t lose your passport, okay?”
“Okay. I promise,” Polina said.
“Okay, sweetie,” Polina mom said, pulling her in for a hug and kiss. After several more minutes of affectionate goodbyes, Polina’s mom handed Polina her passport and plane ticket. Polina went to stand in a line that was forming by Gate A. After her passport and ticket had been checked, Polina was allowed to start boarding.
Polina quickly packed my suitcase into the overhead compartment above a row of three seats, taking the duffel with her to put underneath my seat. Because it was a longer flight, each seat had a small screen in front of it, stocked with games and movies. Polina scooted into her seat by the small window, staring out and waiting for her row to fill. The airplane was like nothing Polina had ever seen before.
Polina didn’t know where Natasha was sitting, or if she had even boarded yet. The troupe leader, Mrs. Partinski, was sitting in the seat in front of Polina, and a couple of Polina’s other friends in the troupe were sitting in the row behind Polina’s. Even though this was all new, it was so exciting for Polina!
Polina couldn’t wait to see Leo, and meet August and Rose, and anyone else from the Academy who might be there.
Ookay, I hope you guys enjoyed! I’m sorry if this POV doesn’t really interest you; I know a lot of this doesn’t really contribute to the main plot. I just wanted to make the story make sense, you know? Like, not skip to the flight or to landing in Leo, because that would leave a lot of suspense about what was going to happen and how things would work out about dance.
So… apparently I’m in charge of this dance plot point. I want to discuss how Polina and Natasha will actually meet August and Rose and Reme in Los Angeles. I know that Reme is at the library/book store next to the airport, but I really don’t know how Polina and Natasha will sneak away. Any ideas?
Whoever wants to POV next (I will if no one wants to or if y’all think I should), this is what I was thinking should happen(feel free to comment anything you think should be changed):
*Flight takes off
*Flight lands in Los Angeles
*Mrs. Partinski takes the girls in the Troupe (by bus, I think, would work well) to the Leo Dance Company campus
*The girls sign into their dorms and unpack
*Polina and Natasha sneak away during free/rest time
*They call August, who arranges to meet in a public place
*Unbeknownst to August, Polina, and Natasha, the library/book store they chose to meet at is exactly where Reme is
So… yeah!! Let me know if that works or how y’all plan to do this!! And also…….. I’m going to start writing another POV RIGHT AWAY. It’s too interesting (for me, at least!) to leave like this!!!
(Here’s a video so y’all know what Hopak is:
*The girls had put their dance bags into their lockers in the dressing room.
As well as meeting August, Rose, and Reme, I feel like Polina and Nastya should meet up with Nikolai and Leila. Would it be okay if I POV next and have them stop at the library and meet the others?