The shadow of Rudolf Nureyev (Part 1)

It is a little known fact that the shadow of Rudolf Nureyev—the greatest male ballet dancer of all time—belonged to a freelance project manager by the name of Andrew Lamb.

Long ago, one black Siberian night, when Rudolf Nureyev was still a child, his shadow slipped away into the darkness, never to return. The next morning—feeling as though a burden had been lifted from his heart—he found himself unbound from the constraints of ordinary physics. It was not long after discovering his love of dance at a performance of the ballet, ‘Song of the Cranes’ that Rudolf Nureyev leapt and spun himself to the pinnacle of the dance world with supernatural ease.

His shadow however, enjoyed no such luck. Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow had found itself attached to a very flat-footed wallflower of a man. Wherever Andrew Lamb went Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow was compelled to follow. During the week, the shadow slumped limp behind flickering monitor screens irradiating Ghant charts and spreadsheets, and was dragged to morning teas where it stood politely at attention while Andrew attempted to project an aura of friendly confidence to his subordinates. On weekends the shadow found itself trampled underfoot at rugby matches and cramped into smokey sports bars where it was forced to mingle with the blurred shadows of Andrew’s drunken mates. Andrew was a good-natured sort, a hard worker with a pretty good sense of humour, but he was no ballet dancer.

Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow passed its time stretching—elongating and distorting itself—in an attempt to detach itself from Andrew and his sedentary life. At rugby matches it would stretch across the stalls, reaching for the shadows of walls and heavy objects, hoping to peel itself away and escape into the darkness like it had years ago in Siberia. In sports bars it would bend itself into fun shapes to avoid boredom, sometimes impersonating the silhouettes of other patrons to confuse anyone with enough imagination to be staring at the wall instead of making bland jokes with Andrew.

This went on for many years, and as Andrew got better and better at project management, the shadow got better and better at stretching. Eventually the shadow got so good at stretching that it could almost detach itself from Andrew while he slept. It would bend itself under the door or through the window, and out onto the street. One night Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow managed to stretch itself to the street corner at the end of the block.

It was there that the shadow discovered its love of dance: on that corner was a dance school, and on that particular night the students were rehearsing a ballet by the name of ‘Song of the Cranes’.

PART 2 HERE

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