Extract from It’s A Wrap: Elektra has a part in Fortuneswell, a costume drama – the dream…until she realises there is DANCING involved. But she’s going to be partnered up with Mike Minor Squire and he’s bound to be hot and dashing, right? She meets him at the dancing practice…
‘Everyone!’ Danny-the-dancing-master was clapping his hands and yelling in a strong Scottish accent; there was no escape. ‘Let’s get you into your couples. It’s all on the big list.’ He gestured at what was indeed an enormous list stuck to one of the big gilded mirrors.
I smiled nervously at the strangers round me and checked the list: CLEMENCY/ELEKTRA: MINOR SQUIRE/MIKE. OK, I wasn’t getting paired up with Lohan Winter but finally I was getting to meet Hot Minor Squire.
‘The plan is to start NOW! Not wait till global warming hits Glasgow,’ bellowed Danny and everyone started to sort themselves out with a bit more purpose. I searched in vain for someone who screamed Squire. ‘And Penny,’ he gestured at one of the crew,’ you’re a decent dancer. Stand in for Georgie Dunn, will you? She’s decided against gracing us with her presence again today.’ He didn’t sound happy.
A tall, painfully skinny, chinless guy came over and stood next to me. What? No. Where was Hot Minor Squire? They’d got it wrong. ‘Minor Squire?’ I asked. ‘Sorry, I mean Mike?’ He nodded. I searched in vain for another lurking Squire. ‘Clemency’s partner?’ He nodded again. Well, this was disappointing. I smiled nervously, he didn’t smile back. I tried some small talk but it wasn’t his strength. We stood side by side not talking.
‘La Pastorale,’ announced Danny as if we were all in for a huge treat – maybe we were?
‘I’m not good with anything that starts with French,’ I said. Mike looked at his feet. ‘Have you done this before?’ Nothing. Did he only talk when someone gave him lines?
‘It’s a cotillion,’ bellowed Danny, ‘but you probably already know that.’ Well, no. ‘Everyone happy with the cotillion?’ There was a murmur that I realized with horror was assent. What about the waltz? And what were these people doing with their lives that they’d just casually picked up the steps to the cotillion? ‘Then you’ve obviously been practicing. Brrrilliant! Remind me, anyone new in the room?’ I put my hand up (there had to be a cooler way to get people’s attention). ‘Ah, yes, it’s our Clemency ... they warned me you’d be in for the run-through. Welcome, Allegra.’
There was a muddle of hellos. ‘It’s Elektra,’ I said, adding to the pile-up of embarrassing names.
‘Elektra? Odd name. You’re ticked off as having all the dance skills to competent level. So, you’re au fait with the cotillion?’
A sentence I’d never expected to hear, especially not said by someone who sounded like he chilled with the Loch Ness Monster. ‘Not exactly . . . au fait but I’ve watched lots of . . .’ I tailed off.
‘Och, well, don’t panic.’ Too late. ‘Has it been a while since you’ve done that one?’ That was one way of putting it. I was an imposter and I was about to be found out. ‘I’ll tell you what to do and just follow everyone else’s lead. It’ll all come back to you.’ It definitely wouldn’t all come back to me. ‘Your partner knows what to do.’ He nodded to Mike- Minor-Squire who just looked back blankly. Perhaps he had hidden rhythmic depths.
‘Form two circles.’ That sounded simple enough, I followed Mike out onto the dance floor. ‘Bit tighter.’ We all squished in a bit. I had Mike on one side of me; and Lohan Winter, dashing and distracting on the other. He smiled at me and I wiped my sweaty hand on my leggings. ‘Better. And . . . music.’ Danny said this with such a flourish that I half expected an orchestra or at least a string quartet to materialize, but instead he just pressed a button on a sound machine that was almost as old as the cotillion. ‘Dum de dum, diddy dum ...’ He was making more noise than the backing track. ‘Let’s all just remind ourselves of the cotillion beat. ‘All together now, dum de dum, diddy dum . . .’ You can say this for actors, they don’t hold back – within a minute the room was resounding with rousing dum-de-dums. Even Mike got stuck in (but quietly). ‘OK, now, eight bar intro.’ I had a blank. What was a bar again? No time to consider, he was directing us over the music. ‘First lady,’ he gestured to Lucy Morton, ‘and gentleman opposite,’ he nodded to Lohan Winter, ‘contretemps towards the right couple, rigadon around each other and cross into opposite place.’
What was he even saying? People were moving. They were dancing.
Unfortunately, I was still standing where I’d started.