When Genevieve Paige was young, she always wanted to be a dancer. It was Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake that opened her eyes to the sport. On her fifth birthday, her party at the nearby park got rained out. As she sat watching her parents clean up before the party had even begun, she cried and moaned of how everything bad happened to her; she couldn't understand why she was bestowed the curse of bad luck. While sitting at home shortly afterward, Genevieve's aunt, Kristie, barged in. "I have a prize for you!" Kristie exclaimed.
Genevieve jumped up and down with uneclipsed excitement. "What is it, what it?!"
"Go put your best dress on, sweetie, because we're going to the ballet!"
Genevieve's smile turned upside down. "I don't know what that is."
"There's dancing and music and a story!" Though she was still a bit unsure, Genevieve went and put on the sweet little sundress her grandmother had made her and kissed her mom and dad goodbye.
The young girl was enraptured by the display she saw. She watched the dancers float across the floor as if the laws of physics didn't apply to them. Genevieve observed the way the dancers' emotions displayed on their faces. There were no words, only music and dancing told the story, but that was okay. As long as the dancers kept moving, Genevieve kept watching. After returning home that night, when her mom asked her how the ballet was, she replied, "I want to learn how to dance." And so she did.
13 Years Later
Genevieve stared in disbelief at the paper in her hand. She read the words for what seemed like the millionth time: Congratulations, Ms. Paige, on your acceptance into the New York Fine Arts Academy. We reviewed your application and audition and were thoroughly impressed. It is our honor to offer you a spot in the NYFAA incoming class this fall semester to study dance. Please send in your deposit to reserve your spot in the program.
"This is crazy!" she exclaimed.
"I knew you'd get in," Genevieve's mother commented. Her father looked over her shoulder to read the letter for himself. "You are a flawless dancer, and there was no doubt that they would see it, too."
It wasn't until Genevieve was 13 that she started considering dance as a career. Her dance instructor had informed her of the opportunities that the dance world offered. You could travel and do what you love at the same time. You meet dancers from all walks of life. The idea entranced Genevieve and she resolved that that would be her goal. To be a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre was another dream of hers. The thought of dancing with others every day, putting on a production, and getting paid for it was a possibility she couldn't imagine. One step at a time, though. That was her plan of action. Getting accepted into the country's highest and most prestigious college for the arts wasn't just a step in the right direction, it was a leap.
It was May of her senior year in high school and though she'd applied for other colleges with her plan B being to become an accountant, it was only this one letter that truly made her happy. Three months later, her parents released their little girl into the world with a tearful goodbye at the airport. She promised to come home for Thanksgiving and gathered her three suitcases filled to the brim with everything she could possibly need. Genevieve caught her four hour flight from her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico to New York City and watched her parents disappear behind the gate.
Upon her arrival at JFK International Airport, Genevieve caught her luggage and looked for the driver that the college ensured would be waiting for her. "You're the last one to arrive, Ms. Paige. This way." He showed her out to a charter bus and took her bags. When she got on, there were about ten or so other people already seated. They eyed her in a scrutinizing manner. She quietly took an open seat at the front of the bus and thought it in her best interest to just keep to herself. The ride to the campus dorms was about 40 minutes and when she got off, there was a woman waiting for them with a clipboard.
"You are the third group of arrivals. Please listen as I separate you. Actors, musicians, and dancers to the right. Photographers, filmmakers, and artists to the left." With her items in tow, Genevieve followed her group as they were led by the same woman. The group stopped abruptly in front of the door to a large, modern apartment building. The guide called out names and room numbers and handed out keys. "Genevieve Paige, Apartment 207, Second floor." Genevieve politely took her key and made her way upstairs. Upon reaching her room, she unlocked the door and wheeled her suitcases inside. She was floored at the interior. It wasn't a dorm, it was a full-fledge apartment! When she entered, she was in a living room. She could see the kitchen and the hallway from where she stood. She didn't know immediately if anybody was in there, but she quickly found out. A girl with black hair and pale skin appeared from the kitchen.
"You must be my roommate," the girl said.
"I guess. I'm Genevieve, a dancer."
"I'm Grayce. I'm a sophomore and aspiring actress." They stood quietly for a moment and then Grayce said, "I have the room on the right, and you can have the one on the left."
"Thanks." Genevieve brought her stuff into her new bedroom. There was a nice window that allowed a decent view of the campus. She had a simple bed, closet, TV, and her own bathroom and nightstand. Everything she needed was right there. She began unpacking and after a couple hours, her bedroom reminded her of home. She had a beautiful bedspread, her clothes were put away, and her possessions were set in their corresponding places. She went back out to the living space and saw Grayce sitting on the couch reading a magazine.
"Your schedule came in the mail about an hour ago."
Genevieve picked up the envelope off of the coffee table and opened it. The first day of classes was the next day and at eight in the morning, everybody was to meet in the theater for the opening words from the Dean. Directly after at 9:00, Genevieve's first class, History of Dance, was to take place on the first floor of the dance building. Next would be her contemporary dance class, a one hour break for lunch, and then advanced ballet, and finally pointe. The college had asked her in her packet over the summer to choose her area of specialty. Ballet was her passion. She liked to dance contemporary every now and then, but it was ballet that really opened her heart. NYFAA could see that, too. Whereas most freshmen were taking basic ballet, the decision was made to skip Genevieve over two years of technique classes due to the innumerably high score of her audition.
"So what's your schedule look like?" Grayce asked.
"Quite good, actually. I have my ballet classes after lunch. The contemporary class right before and history of dance bright and early."
"That sounds really good. Ready for the opening words tomorrow?"
Genevieve smiled. "Yeah. I know nobody, though."
"You know me." Grayce punched Genevieve on the arm lightly and they chuckled.
The next morning Genevieve slumped herself out of bed and into sweatpants and an NYFAA t-shirt. She grabbed the bag with all of her dancing clothes and shoes in it and met Grayce in the kitchen for a quick bagel. When the left their apartment, everybody else in the building was heading down the stairs as well. Grayce showed Genevieve where certain buildings were as they passed through the campus. Finally arriving at the theater, a large mass of people pushed their way inside. "We're not required to sit by program or anything, but people of the same study tend to clump together." Genevieve observed the plethora of people. An estimate would be about a thousand or so. "Over there are the filmmakers," Grayce pointed to the group of people generally wearing ripped jeans and graphic tees. "Next are the artists." A mass of people with canvas bags across their laps chatted brightly. "Then is the musicians." Those people had one instrument or another. Guitars, violins, flutes, clarinets. "Beside them are the photographers." They accessorized with Nikons, Canons, and Kodaks around their necks. "My people, the actors." They looked generally normal, dressed in everyday wear and carried average book bags. "And then there are your people." The dancers had a variety of looks. Some girls wore leotards and tights, some wore baggy pants or exercise clothing. The ballet boys wore the standard white shirt and black pants. Others preferred cargos and sweats. The girls were very cliquey, and all had someone attached to their arm. Genevieve wondered if she should go and try talking to one of them and risk the same reaction she got from the people on the transfer bus from the airport. "You can sit with me, if you'd like," Grayce offered. Genevieve smiled and followed her roommate to the section where the majority of the actors sat.
They sat next to a boy who said a cheery, "Good morning!"
"Ian, this is Genevieve. She's a freshman dancer. Genevieve, this is my boyfriend Ian."
Genevieve smiled and shook his hand. "It's nice to meet you," she said. "Grayce has been very welcoming."
"Of course she has. It's just the type of person she is," Ian kissed Grayce on her forehead and spoke again to Genevieve, "I understand why you're not sitting with the dancers. They have a tendency to be very condescending."
"I sure did get that vibe," she replied. As the Dean stepped on stage and checked his microphone, the auditorium quieted down.
"Welcome back, everyone. For returning students, I hope you enjoyed your summer. For the freshman, welcome to the family." As he went on, Genevieve scanned the dancers. They all stared straight ahead and occasionally whispered quietly… except for one. One of the male dancers stared right at her. He eyed Genevieve curiously. She focused all her attention on him. The way his brown hair sat in waves; the way his green eyes shone; the way his lips tugged upward into a sly smile all sent shivers down her spine. She felt like she should look away because her mother had always taught it was rude to stare, but God, she just couldn't help it. Plus, he was staring at her, so why not stare back? She was snapped out of her reverie by a blonde girl nudging him in order to draw his attention elsewhere. He turned his head forward again, and didn't look back. So, Genevieve did the same.
Her first two classes came and went without event. As she exited the dance building, Grayce pulled her to the side. "Come with Ian and I to lunch. We'll show you the best place ever." Genevieve accepted gratefully and followed her new friends to a restaurant near the campus. They ordered a basket of French fries to share. "How's your first day of college been thus far?"
"It's gone quite well. I have my ballet classes after lunch, so I'm really looking forward to that."
"I take it ballet's your thing?" Ian mentioned.
"Yep. Since I started dancing it's always been my main focus."
"I don't know much about the dance world here," Grayce started, "but what I do know is that it's stiff competition. Have you met Carter yet?"
"Who?" Genevieve was puzzled.
"Carter Donovan," Ian picked up, "If there is any student at this school who everybody knows, it's him. He's fierce in the ballet world, or so I hear."
Genevieve shook her head, "I don't compete with males."
"Oh, I know. He's like a flame. All the females are moths. They flock to him." Genevieve refused to be one of those girls. The kind that opened their legs for the first guy that paid them mind. She was way too focused on her dance career to get mixed up in a relationship anyway. It would just have to wait until she was at the top.