We at the London Illustrated have a rare interview today with the elusive Ella Blythe, rising ballet star of the Craven Street Theater who seems to have appeared from nowhere this season, and with a most astonishing style. Let’s see if we can figure out where on earth this mysterious little sylph came from—and why she keeps her secrets so close to the chest.
LI: Miss Blythe, all of London is curious—won’t you tell us the secret to your most unique, breathtaking style of dance? Who is behind your training?
Ella: The style is my own, discovered when I manage to forget myself and my audience. As for my background, I’ve always danced, always trained and prepared. More than I walked, I’m afraid. There’s something about the pure symmetry and order, the perfect elegance of ballet that resonates with my beauty-loving heart. Officially, I was trained by Monsieur Coulon for two years in France, although he would cringe to see the way I dance now—the man is a staunch classicist. I credit him for very little of the style I now use.
LI: The Coulon, of the Paris Opera House? One might wonder how an unknown young woman of no means managed such an appointment. Might I ask where you trained before that, or perhaps who sponsored you?
Ella: From the time I could walk, I was trained by one of the most magnificent dancers ever to grace a European stage. One couldn’t help but fall in love with ballet simply watching her. Crossing the street, for her, could convey more than the finest speech, and with even more eloquence.
LI: Are we to assume she’s an unknown dancer, then, since you’ve not mentioned her name? Perhaps one injured before her prime?
Ella: No, the very problem is that you surely would know her name, and I mustn’t speak it aloud. Not ever.
LI: You sound as if you’re speaking of Craven’s very own ghost dancer—the one who wears the scarlet shoes. It’s been said you once auditioned with those very same shoes. Perhaps there is some connection there?
Ella: Perhaps this interview should end here. I’m rather tired.
LI: I beg your pardon, Miss Blythe. Please, sit back down, and I shall promise to take a new direction. Very well then—there is one other matter burning in the minds of our readers. Have you an understanding with one of the gentleman in the theater? We’ve heard such romantic tales from every direction this season.
Ella: An understanding—horsefeathers! Jack Dorian has been hanging about merely because of a bet—one he’ll never win. He’s the known charmer of the theater, what with that golden hair and almost divine appearance the other dancers find so hard to resist. Unfortunately, he seems to share their opinion, and I cannot abide an arrogant man.
LI: What of the principal? Philippe Rousseau is your equal in many ways, and people are claiming they see something thick and weighty between you—even off the stage.
Ella: (silence.) Philippe is a dark horse. Carries as much mystery as the unnamed dancer who trained me, and very few manage to get close to him, either. He often escorts me home when it’s late, but there’s much he won’t share, and he walks about with the weight of ten thousand unwritten poems behind his eyes. All I can tell you is he’s the truest gentleman I’ve ever met this side of the theater curtain.
LI: This hedging has me quite intrigued. Perhaps I should speak to some of your fellow dancers for their take on the matter…
Ella: You’re bound to get a fairytale. Well then… If you promise to keep the specifics out of your article, I shall tell you one secret concerning Philippe. He doesn’t remember it, but years ago, when I was quite scrawny and innocent, he happened upon me in a forgotten part of the theater and swept me up in the most unexpected dance. He put these enchanted shoes on my feet and we danced—it was my first pas de deux with a real partner, and I believe I fell in love that night—with ballet, that is. That encounter is what brought me back to Craven, too. You see, he promised me that one day we’d dance together on this very stage—he was that certain I’d make something of myself. I suppose his confidence convinced me too, and it became my driving ambition—to prove him right. To dance opposite him once again at Craven. And one day… to thank him for taking the time to pas de deux with a little nobody.
LI: And has it happened? Have you danced with Philippe Rousseau?
Ella: (pause.) Not yet. But the hope of it still fuels my dance. Come back for another season, and perhaps you shall witness it. You may sit in the audience and appreciate what is occurring, even though no one—not even Philippe himself—realizes the significance. Just one more reason to purchase a box for the season and see for yourself what comes of his vow.
Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears,
A Rumored Fortune, Finding Lady Enderly, and The Love Note. She loves tales that
capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s
story. She lives with her husband and their children in a house in the woods near
Lake Michigan. You can find her at www.jdpstories.com.