The White Opera

In a world that’s falling apart, Lillia Jane seeks to find the light. Dancing is her soul and passion, but it isn’t always the answer to her problems. She witnessed the murder of her best friend Sophie and won’t be forgetting the feeling of isolation any time soon. Lillia’s parents have moved to Queensland for the summer so now it’s just her and her older brother Brian, as they embark on an amazing adventure through Sydney Australia.


15. Rehearsals


I lie in bed, wide-awake, staring up at the dull ceiling above me. As I wait for the sun to rise, I count the pieces of peeling paint and yellow stains from the humidity of the shitty air conditioner. It is about 6 in the morning when I get a call from Hannah. “Are we still on after rehearsals?” she asks, her voice innocent and pleading, I can even see her puppy eyes on the other end. “Oh my God Hannah…thank you for reminding me! I totally almost forgot! And yeah, we should be alright for 8:30?”

“Sounds Great! See you then.” I am so distracted as I hang up that I forget to tell Hannah about my dream. I guess it can wait for now, but I do have questions about that day that I am dying to find the answers to. Rehearsals start at 7 so I have just enough time to get ready, the peculiar man never told me what to wear and I didn’t even pack any of my dance clothes.

I get into my ballet slippers and manage to find some three quarter leggings and a tank top. The excitement welling up inside of me is scary. I hesitate, how on earth am I going to survive today? I’m probably going to be the weakling compared to the experienced dancers that are probably there. I mean, it is the Opera House for goodness sake; everyone there will be seeping with talent and optimism!

I quickly write a short note to Tia – because she is always the first to wake up – explaining where I will be, just in case she forgets. I grab my pink drink bottle and run out the door. It is now 6:35 and it will take at least 15 minutes walking distance to get there.

As soon as I arrive I realise that I don’t even know where the rehearsal rooms are, let alone where the entrance is. My mind eases and my heart slows down back into a steady rhythm when I see the man – Troye – waiting for me only a few feet away. He waves in my direction and indicates that I come over to him. “Hello Lillia. Are you ready?” I nod but only just so that he can see. “Right then, let’s go.”

As soon as I walk in I see people running around and chatting in the hallways, “Things get pretty hectic before concerts.” and there is no understatement there for sure. Troye leads me to the centre of the building where there is a large, open room. A corner is crammed with dancers stretching, preparing for our first rehearsals. The first thing I notice with a jolt, is that everyone is wearing the same uniform, blue leotard, flowing blue skirt and white stockings. This really doesn’t improve my confidence as I look down at my leggings with holes in the knees and worn tank top, faded with age.

I turn to face Troye, “Do I need to wear that?” my voice is as soft as a mouse to ensure that no one can hear me; the last thing I need is people laughing at my stupidity. He follows my gaze and chuckles under his breath, gathering that I don’t want to be overheard, “You can if you would like to but it is expensive. The only clothing you need to worry about is the costume you will be wearing at the performance in two weeks. You are coming right?” I nod again and relax a little. “Good luck!” Troye gives me a pat on the back and with a swift movement of his heels he had left the room.

“RIGHT! EVERYONE IN THE CENTRE OF THE ROOM!” I jump in shock at the booming voice and cover my ears so I don’t go deaf. When I turn around, I find the source of the strong voice, my coach. My instant thought is that he might be deaf himself, because although this is a big room, you can practically hear everyone breathing. We all move quickly, but as we are doing so, I get some strange glances that make me feel as though I am the odd one out…which I am.

“We will be practicing for the White Opera every week from now and it will be intense so be papered. I don’t want to hear any whining or crying because this is serious. Anyone who is not ready for this experience can leave right now.” I feel like running straight out the door and never coming back, but I plant my feet on the ground, trying to get a hold of my desire to resign. There is no backing out now, not in a million years.

Our coach’s name is Alexander. He is quite tall, and exceptionally muscular, not how you would expect a ballet dancer to look. His voice is deep and he holds himself with poise, looking quite superior compared to his class. Looking around, his gaze rests on me; his grey eyes bore into mine, as if challenging me to a fight.

He spends 10 minutes talking us through the White Opera and what we are expected to do. As much as it is interesting and informative, I just want to get moving and start learning. It is after that ten minutes that I do something that no one ever does here, I raise my hand, “Excuse me sir, but why is our performance called the White Opera?” everyone turns and I can hear deadly whispers. The reason why no one ever asks questions, I learn, is because the information always comes to you at some point, so there is no need for question asking, because it disturbs the class.

“Excuse me? What is your name, I have never seen you here before.” I purse my lips, not wanting to ever talk again; it is during these painful seconds of silence that I force the words out of my mouth.

“Uh, my name is Lillia Jane. I am new here and I was offered this position by Troye.” Alexander stares me down, then hesitantly begins to explain  “It is called the White Opera, simply because everyone will be wearing white, the backdrop will be white, and everything will be white. No other colour is to come on to stage. It represents the emptiness of the world.”

Okay. Maybe I can relate to this place after all. We all get into the positions that are allocated to us and begin learning the moves that will be in the performance. The alarmingly loud voice was back, “ALRIGHT POSITIONS! 5, 6, 7, 8, leap and twirl and step and twirl-” and then my legs decide to trip over one another, leaving me to land flat on my face.

“Lillia are you going to be like this in all of my lessons?” my eyes well up but I refuse to cry, “No sir. I’m just nervous sir.” In the Sydney Opera House, every tutor, coach or teacher is given the up most respect; here I am in front of my coach humiliating myself. Everyone probably thinks I am a snobby little girl who Troye found on the side of the street and am in desperate need of attention.

After an hour and a half of dancing – and falling – it is finally time to stop. “I want every single one of you here next Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 sharp. We have business to attend.” I look down at my phone and find 10 missed calls from Brian, 7 from Tia, 1 from Hannah and–

1 from Lucas? How did he get my number? I call my brother back first, he probably thought that rehearsals only went for an hour. The call goes to voicemail after 5 rings, “Hey, I will be home in half an hour. Bye.”

Next on the list is Hannah, “Hi babe!” Her voice comes through the other end “Want me to pick you up?”

“What? Oh yeah. Sorry I completely forgot! I need to just go home first and get changed.”

“Cool, see ya then!” I hang up and give myself ten minutes of practicing my twirls by a park bench, hating myself for failing my first impression in a place like this.


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