Pain. Sweat. Blood: The minimum expected to be a member of the corps de ballet for the Coleman Arts Conservatory.
When Dawn Humphrey is accepted to the Summer Intensive at the most prestigious school in New York, she suffers more than just blisters from her pointe shoes. Aside from the director insulting her weight and publicly showing his distaste for her dancing, Dawn falls hard and fast for the director’s son, Griffin Coleman, who can’t seem to keep his hands (or lips) off the other girls in the company.
The Conservatory is renowned for its technique and precision, but something is off with the girls. Not only are they too perfect on stage, but they’re burning out too quickly. It isn’t until the company announces they’re doing Giselle for the summer showcase that Dawn realizes the parallels between the haunted ghost story and the lives around her. And she could be next. Dawn must find a way to free the girls from dancing to their deaths before she succumbs and becomes a ghost herself.
BLISTERS, complete at 57,000 words, is a YA Urban Fantasy novel that is the first book in the proposed BLISTERS series, where each book mirrors a different ballet. I am a freelance writer and editor. Active member of SCBWI. Number one top-pick Inkpop winner. I danced with a professional company for seven years and was a ballet teacher for fourteen.
Thank you for your generous time and consideration.
I lift my leg higher, wincing at the burn in my lower back. Shoulders down. Stomach pulled in. Head tilted. I bring my leg around, focusing on my standing hip, until my working leg is in front of me, inches from my face. With an excruciating push that I am all too familiar with, I stretch my limb higher until I descend it to the ground.
The music tinkles to a stop and I lower my arms, finished. My heart hammers in my ears and sweat clings to the inside of my leotard. An itch bristles in the middle of my back, but I hold frozen, waiting for permission to move. The judges scribble behind their clipboards, the sound grating along my bones.
I slide my eyes over to Beth. She nailed it. Just like me. Her eyes stay fixed in front of her, but the corner of her mouth twitches so I know she’s aware of me. Dozens of other girls stand alongside us, not including the hundreds that have auditioned across the country.
“That will be all,” the director of The Conservatory says. His dark, thick-framed glasses look more like an accessory than for actual use. Kind of like the pencil behind his ear.
The room seems to breathe at once as we quietly head over to the sides of the studio where our bags are located. Pointe shoes click on the Marley floor and the air is hot and sticky on my skin. None of the judges watch us depart, like we’re not human beings who would cut off a limb to be part of their program. If we didn’t need the limb to dance in the first place.
We are only clinical objects to them. How long are your legs? How defined is your arch? Can you add an extra turn to your pirouette? Or most important: How much do you weigh?
I unclasp the number safety-pinned to the front of my leotard, grab my bag, and head into the hallway so I can freak out with Beth. I follow along the other long-legged girls like skinny cattle and fresh air tickles the back of my neck. Parents stand connected at the hip outside, their faces a jumble of nerves, anticipation, and worry.
Conversations erupt and I drag Beth down the hall so I can release the scream that has been trapped in my throat since before the audition began.
“Did you see me nail that adagio?” I run a hand over my slicked-back hair. It probably looks black instead of red from all the hairspray. “And your fouettes were amazing, Beth. I can’t believe you pulled a triple at the end there. How long until we hear, do you think?”
Beth’s face seems extra pale against her dark hair. “I don’t know, Dawn. Rejection letters usually come after the positive. If we don’t hear within the next two weeks, then I’d say it’s a pass.”
I can't wait two weeks. I can't wait two seconds.