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Authors: Samantha-Ellen Bound

Dance Till you Drop

BOOK: Dance Till you Drop
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About the Book

Four friends. One dance school. A whole lot of drama.

Paige's mum wants her to be the best dancer ever. But what does Paige want?

Paige has grown up dancing and takes almost every class at Silver Shoes. She loves her friends there but often feels pushed into dancing by her mum, who was once a dancer herself. Now, with a ballroom competition coming up and her waltz looking less than graceful, Paige's confidence starts to crack. Dancing no longer seems like fun. Paige wants to make everyone happy, but before she knows it her best friend stops talking to her, then Benji, her ballroom partner, walks out! Will Paige find the courage to speak up before she loses her friends and her love of dance forever?

To my dancing idols and inspirations

Chapter One

‘You can't
what
?' Ellie crossed her arms and narrowed her big green eyes at me.

Uh-oh. I knew I was in trouble.

I looked at Ellie's fluoro-pink jazz boots. Then at Ashley's bag with the ripped handle. Then at the picture of a young Miss Caroline dancing on a cruise ship above the bluest water I'd ever seen.

But I couldn't look at Ellie.

‘I can't come to your birthday party,' I whispered. ‘I'm sorry.'

‘Why not?' said Ellie.

I picked at my leotard. Then I gave a little cough. Wow. Sometimes Ellie can be scary when she's excited or passionate about something and can't stop talking. But when she's silent? That's terrifying.

‘Well, come on, Paige,' said Ellie. ‘You're supposed to be my best friend, and now you can't come to my eleventh birthday party? There better be a good reason.'

‘Mum told me yesterday I have a ballroom competition,' I said. ‘I'm really sorry, Ellie. You know how much I wanted to come.'

Eleanor is my best friend, so it wasn't a lie. We've been friends since we first began as tinies at our dance school, Silver Shoes.

Ellie is loud and energetic and never afraid. And that's why I love her – because she makes me feel less quiet and shy.

But you don't want to get in her bad books. And I think I just did.

‘You already missed my singing showcase because you were doing some ballet workshop, and now you're going to miss my party because you've got a competition?'

‘I can't help it,' I said.

‘Paige,' huffed Ellie, shoving her foot into her jazz boot. ‘I love dancing too, everyone knows that, but I don't let it get in the way of doing stuff with my friends.'

‘I want to come!' I said. ‘And I wanted to be at your singing showcase as well! But I'll get into trouble if I miss these ballroom things.'

‘You can't miss this
one
ballroom competition?' asked Ellie. ‘Even though you do, like, a thousand?'

‘No,' I said.

‘Why not?'

‘It's really good practice. And exposure,' I explained, before realising I was just repeating what Mum always said.

I thought about my ballroom partner, Benji, and my cheeks grew warm.

‘Also I can't let Benji down.'

‘What about letting me down?' pouted Ellie, pulling on her other jazz boot.

I couldn't think of anything to say.

‘Whatever,' she said, making a big deal of tying her final lace. She gave me a mean look as she breezed by me on her way out the door. ‘You don't even like ballroom.'

That wasn't true! Was it?

I sure didn't like it when it caused fights with my best friend.

But Benji and I had been working so hard on our waltz for the ballroom competition. My mum was state waltz champion before I was born. I know it meant a lot to her that
Benji and I take out our age group at the competition. She made us practise in every spare moment – sometimes I felt I was even waltzing in my sleep!

I sighed and put Ellie's street clothes in a neat pile next to mine. Then I headed to the studio, ready for our weekly technique class. My arms were really sore from holding a ballroom stance for three hours. I hoped we didn't spend too much time on cartwheels and walkovers today.

‘Paige!'

I looked into the open doorway and saw Mum waving at me from a sea of dresses. She's in charge of costumes at Silver Shoes.

‘Your hair is a mess!' Mum scolded. ‘Come here.'

‘I'm late for class,' I began to say, but she'd already taken my hair – which is long, blonde and silky and ALWAYS falls out even if it's
tied up – and twisted it into a bun so tight I felt like I had sunburn.

‘Work on your walkovers today, honey,' Mum said, giving me a kiss. ‘Your knees are always crooked.'

‘Okay,' I said, and escaped before she could find an imaginary thread hanging loose on my leotard.

Once I was in the studio I went to take my usual place next to Ellie.

But she wasn't there. She was over in the far corner, laughing with our friend, Ash.

I guessed she was still mad, then.

Luckily our other friend, Riley, came rushing in, trying to fix her curly hair into a braid.

‘Hey Paige,' she said, stopping next to me. ‘Whoops. Late again.' She gave me a big smile that said she didn't really care if she was late or not.

I decided to copy her and spend the class not caring.

But I did care.

I cared that my knees stayed crooked on the walkovers. I cared that I got so dizzy in my pirouettes I almost crashed into the mirror.

And I cared that throughout the whole class, Ellie didn't look at me once.

Chapter Two

The next day, Friday, I had ballroom practice after school.

I walked into the back studio to find Benji standing stiffly in front of the mirror, his chin up and arms out.

Benji doesn't take any other classes at Silver Shoes. He's in a hip hop group with Ash, but that's outside of the studio.

I hung back in the doorway, embarrassed – for myself or for him, I didn't know.

When he caught me looking though, his body collapsed like jelly that's just been punched.

‘Hey,' he said.

‘Hi,' I said, coming into the studio. ‘What were you doing?'

‘Working on my posture,' Benji said. ‘Mum said it's no good. Said there's too much hip hop slouch.'

‘Oh,' I said.

‘What about you?' he asked. ‘Do you think when I dance ballroom I'm too hip hoppy?'

‘Oh,' I squeaked. ‘No. I don't think so.'

I really wasn't sure, because when I danced with Benji my head got all messed up and I couldn't really think about anything except trying not to step on his feet.

He shrugged. ‘I don't care. Not gonna be a ballroom dancer, anyway.'

‘Well, don't tell your mum that,' I said, sitting down on the floor to stretch out my
feet. ‘Don't tell mine, either. In her mind, we're together for life.' I flushed bright red. ‘As dance partners, I mean!'

Benji collapsed on the floor and lounged about next to me. I moved my legs away so that my feet weren't touching him. He kept staring at himself in the mirror.

‘We've got that ballroom comp coming up,' I said, because the silence was making my fingers and toes itch.

Benji nodded. ‘Yeah.'

‘I'm missing Ellie's birthday because of it.'

Benji sat straighter and squared his shoulders, but he didn't look away from his reflection. ‘Yeah?'

‘She's pretty mad.'

‘Yeah?'

‘I hope it doesn't turn into a big fight,' I said, pulling up my tights.

Gosh! Why was it so hard to talk to boys!

Benji was pulling ridiculous stage faces in the mirror now. ‘Yeah?' he said, again. ‘Don't do the ballroom comp then. I don't mind. We do a hundred others.'

‘I can't just pull out,' I said.

‘Why?' asked Benji, swishing his hair back in an over-the-top way.

‘Because I have to do the comp,' I said.

‘Have to or
want
to?' asked Benji.

I looked down at my toes. ‘Want to,' I said.

But the ticklish feeling in my tummy said I wasn't so sure. If I didn't feel excited about it, why was I doing it?

‘Are you sure?' said Benji, flicking his eyes at me in the mirror.

Gosh! Maybe Benji hated dancing with me because I was so terrible and
he
wanted to pull out!

But I didn't get to ask him because Mum and our ballroom teacher, Fleur, came in.

‘What's this?' Mum laughed. ‘On the floor will never do. We better get you up and dancing, hey?'

Benji gave her a weird smile that his eyes didn't agree with.

‘How are you, Benji?' asked Mum. She kissed him on the top of his head, and the way he tried to duck out of it made me smile. ‘You ready to dance the waltz with my Paigey?'

‘I guess,' he said.

‘I guess!' Mum laughed again. ‘Well, I hope you guessed right, because we're going to make you two state champions!'

‘Great,' I heard Benji mumble under his breath.

Fleur is a nice teacher, but Mum usually ends up taking over. She calls out corrections from the chair at the side of the studio, or jumps up to partner Fleur to show us how it's done.

Most of the time I wish Mum would go away to fix up the costumes or something, because I don't feel like I dance my best when she's around.

I think she forgets that Benji and I are only just learning ballroom. We haven't been doing it for twenty years, like she did. And she keeps slamming us with new styles to learn when we really should be concentrating on just a few.

Take this example. Fleur was getting Benji and me to do some slow circles around the studio, in a basic one, two, three; one, two, three box step. It was just a warm-up! But Mum called out, ‘Paigey, you've got to stand closer to Benji! He's not contagious, sweetheart, you can't be ten metres away from him – it ruins the line of your arms.'

I know it's meant to be encouraging, but I get nervous when she calls out stuff like that!
And when I did move closer to Benji I got all stiff because I felt like it still wasn't good enough.

Plus I didn't like being too near to Benji. I wasn't sure which part of his face I was meant to look at. We were so close I could see a chip on his front left tooth. Imagine what he could see on mine! I hope I didn't have a booger!

Benji acts cool, but he's really good at ballroom. His thing is hip hop, but his mum and mine know each other from the old dancing days, so they thought it would be a great idea to get us together as ballroom partners.

Benji's a natural. Sometimes he looks like he enjoys himself, even with me stumbling and turning the wrong way and treading on his toes.

I couldn't understand why I was so bad. I bet Riley or Ellie wouldn't have the same
problem. Mum would never yell things out at them!

Great. So I'd miss Ellie's birthday to do a ballroom competition that I wasn't even good at. It just got worse and worse.

BOOK: Dance Till you Drop
13.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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