Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow—mesmerised by the kinetic grace of the performers—swayed in time with the music, imitating the dance steps as best it could. After two hours of rapture the rehearsal finished and the dancers began to shuffle out of the studio, saying their goodbyes. Deflated, the shadow allowed itself to be dragged back to Andrew Lamb’s bedroom, and exhausted from the rehearsal, reassumed the form of the slumbering project manager.
Every night for the next month, after a full day of stultifying office life, Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow would stretch to the dance studio, bending itself deeper and deeper into the class, until it found itself spread across the main wall, closely following the steps of the lead male dancer. By the end of the month, the shadow had superimposed itself over the shadow of the lead, mimicking its every move to a T. An observer would have seen only one shadow, though a shadow much darker and denser than any other in the studio, so perfect was the imitation.
On the last night of rehearsal, before the students would travel out of town to perform the ballet, the shadow crept into the studio for a farewell performance. During the lead’s solo, the shadow—overwhelmed by the moment— tore itself free from Andrew Lamb’s body to improvise a performance far more magnificent than the human lead could ever muster. Our observer would have noticed two shadows dancing the lead solo that night, one bound to the mediocre efforts of a dedicated journeyman, and one tracing God’s thoughts across the studio walls.
As the music closed, the shadow no longer felt the familiar tug of Andrew Lamb’s body: it skipped along a wall and leapt out of the studio onto a fire escape, it danced from street lamp to street lamp, further and further away from the apartment of the sleeping man, until it found itself at the edge of the city. Filled with childlike optimism, Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow felt determined to fulfil its destiny of becoming the greatest non-corporeal ballet dancer of all time.