Darcey Bussell’s World of Magic Ballerina
Darcey Bussell’s World of Magic Ballerina
To Phoebe and Zoe, as they are the inspiration behind Magic Ballerina.
About the Publisher
Welcome to the world of Enchantia!
I have always loved to dance. The captivating music and wonderful stories of ballet are so inspiring. So come with me and let’s follow Delphie, Rosa and Holly on their magical adventures in Enchantia, where the stories of dance will take you on a very special journey.
p.s. Learn some special dance steps from me…
In the soft, pale light, the girl stood with her head bent and her hands held lightly in front of her. There was a moment’s silence and then the first notes of the music began. For as long as the girl could remember music had seemed to tell her of another world – a magical, exciting world – that lay far, far away. She always felt if she could just close her eyes and lose herself, then she would get there. Maybe this time. As the music swirled inside her, she swept her arms above her head, rose on to her toes and began to dance…
Delphie hurried home, her breath freezing in the snowy night air. The houses on either side of the road had their curtains drawn – all apart from one – a big double-fronted house with iron railings and a gate. Two stone steps led up to the door and light streamed out of the windows. As the snowflakes landed softly on Delphie’s shoulders, she looked longingly at the brass plate, just as she had for the last four weeks since it had been open: Madame Zarakova’s School of Ballet.
A car drew up outside and two girls jumped out. They were about nine – the same age as Delphie – and had their hair tied back in neat buns.
“Come on, we’re going to be late!” one of them called as they ran through the gate and opened the front door. “Madame Za-Za will go mad!”
For a moment, Delphie caught sight of a long wide hallway with white walls and wooden floors before the heavy door banged shut behind them.
Delphie felt a wave of longing so strong it hurt. She wanted to be inside the ballet school about to have a dance lesson. She was ballet-mad but her parents had always put her off having lessons.
“Maybe when you’re a bit older,” her mum had said, kissing Delphie’s long dark hair. “The nearest dance school is on the other side of town. It’s too far to take you every week.”
But Delphie hadn’t been put off. She had borrowed books from the library and practised ballet exercises almost every day. And she danced all the time – in the house, in the garden, she wasn’t even embarrassed to dance on the street! She loved the feeling of spinning, moving, jumping. It was hard to explain but, although she had never had any lessons, inside she just felt like she knew what it was like to be a real ballerina.
And now Madame Zarakova’s ballet school had opened on the very street she lived. But even that hadn’t helped her. Delphie did understand. After all, money was quite tight in their house.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” Mrs Durand, Delphie’s mum, had sighed. “We just can’t afford to send you there.”
Standing by the railings now, Delphie could now hear the faint sounds of a piano tinkling and, through the branches, she could see light from the big windows falling into the front garden. Shivering she pulled her coat closer around her as she looked over the railings.
The music and lights seemed to be calling her nearer. Slipping through the gate, she crept over to the house, peering in through the window. The room inside was large with mirrors on each of the four walls. Eight girls, all about the same age, were holding lightly to the barre, a wooden pole that was fixed around the wall of the room. They were all dressed in pink leotards with a ribbon round their waists, pale socks and satin ballet shoes with ribbons crossed neatly round their ankles.
They were gracefully bending and straightening their knees out over their toes.
“Pliés,” Delphie sighed longingly, recognising them from one of her books. Oh, if only she could be in there with them.
Madame Za-Za was walking around the room, talking to the girls and correcting a leg position here, an arm position there. She held her own body erect and her grey-streaked brown hair was pulled back in a bun. As Delphie watched, the girls began a different exercise, pointing their toes and sliding their legs to the back, front and side. Battements tendu, thought Delphie. All the girls looked good but there was one dark-haired girl who looked very graceful and seemed to find everything very easy.
Next the girls began sliding the foot that was furthest from the barre and lifting it off the floor, stretching out as far as they could and holding their free arm out to the side.
Delphie couldn’t resist. She began to join in. Holding on to the windowsill, she performed the movement in time with the girls inside.
Sweeping her arm and leg to the side, she held them in perfect position, her toe pointed and heel raised from the ground. They moved quickly into practising quick, light movements.
Madame Za-Za said something to the girls and left the room. The class carried on working. Feeling very happy, Delphie continued to copy them. It was almost like being in there.
Then, suddenly, the front door swung open and a voice called out. “You, girl! What are you doing?”
Delphie jumped in shock and swung round. She had been concentrating so hard on the dancing that she hadn’t heard it opening. It was Madame Za-Za standing on the top step, staring at her!
Delphie froze to the spot. “I… I’m really sorry! I just wanted to have a look.”
“Come here, child!” Madame Za-Za called.
And with just a moment’s hesitation, Delphie hurried up the steps.
“Come inside, child” Madame Za-Za said. “What is your name?”
“Delphie Durand.” Delphie felt tears prickling her eyes. She was sure she was about to be told off. She blinked quickly; she hated crying in front of people.
“I saw you through the window,” Madame Za-Za said to her. “Where do you learn ballet?”
Delphie was very surprised by the question. “I… I don’t go to classes,” she answered. “I just read about it in books and practise at home.”
“I see.” Madame Za-Za looked at her for a moment. “Well, why don’t you come in?”
“Come in?” Delphie echoed.
Madame Za-Za nodded. “It’s cold out here and I think you would like to see around. Am I right?”
“Yes!” Delphie gasped. “I’d love to see inside.”
Walking in a daze, Delphie followed Madame Za-Za inside the school. They went down the warm, brightly lit corridor. “Here we have the dance studios,” Madame Za-Za explained, pointing to two rooms, one on either side.
“Wow!” Delphie breathed.
Madame Za-Za looked thoughtfully at her. “Do you have any ballet shoes, child?”
“No,” Delphie replied. She always just danced in bare feet.
Madame Za-Za gave a small nod and then set off down a dark corridor, opening a door at the end that led into a small storeroom. The walls were covered with shelves piled high with boxes, dusty books, ballet costumes and what looked like a chest full of new ballet leotards and socks.
Madame Za-Za went into the room and took an old, battered box down from a high shelf.
As Delphie watched, Madame Za-Za opened the lid to reveal a pair of old red leather ballet shoes with red ribbons, nestling among yellowing tissue paper. The leather was slightly crinkly, the insides of the shoes a deep cream. They were worn and slightly shabby but as Delphie looked at them, she felt a sudden urge to reach into the box. Her feet tingled as if they wanted to try them on.
Unable to stop herself she touched the soft red leather and then realising what she was doing, she pulled her hand back.
She looked up to see Madame Za-Za studying her face, her expression unreadable.
“Do you like them?” Madame Za-Za asked.
“Oh yes,” Delphie breathed. The ballet shoes might be old but they were beautiful. “Would you like to borrow them, child?” Madame Za-Za asked gently.
“Borrow them!” Delphie stared in surprise. “But why would you lend them to me? I don’t even come here to classes.”
“If you like you can come back tomorrow and join in with the class you were watching,” Madame Za-Za said.
Delphie could hardly believe her ears.
“But… but… well, I’d love to but Mum and Dad can’t afford for me to have lessons.” She blushed as she admitted the truth.
Madame Za-Za waved her hand dismissively. “Money does not matter. Just come tomorrow as I ask.” Her eyes met Delphie’s. “I will teach you for free.”
Delphie’s mind spun.
“Go home now and tell your parents what I have said. They may ring me if they have any questions.” Madame Za-Za gave her the box with the ballet shoes and then turned and took a brand-new pink leotard and socks out of the chest near the door. “Bring these clothes and the shoes to wear tomorrow.”
Delphie looked down at the box in her arms. “What if the shoes don’t fit me?”