“We’ll go for Irish first today,” she said, and everybody leapt for their bags. She watched as the satin shoes were replaced by leather, and laughed to see them don knee-length black skirts. The pianist took a cup of coffee from the shelf behind her, relaxing as the CD player took over her job.
“Just watch for now,” Sophie was told. “If you want to join in, feel free, but you’re welcome to take a break. I expect you’re tired out, aren’t you?” There could be no denying that. She sat down on a raised step at the side of the room, rubbed her aching feet, and watched as the other dancers circled the floor.
It didn’t have quite the elegance or the grace of ballet, and it couldn’t be denied that there was something slightly less ... skilful about it. It wasn’t that it didn’t require skill, although these basic warm-ups required very little, but it was the sort of thing that could be done to an acceptable standard very quickly. It was getting it brilliant that took the effort, of course.
After half an hour they changed their shoes again, but this time they remained barefoot. It was time to stretch, and stretch they did. Apart from gymnasts in the Olympic Games, Sophie had never seen anybody so flexible! They could all do the splits, and nobody there was unable to lift their foot above shoulder height. Later, she could have sworn that she saw one of them kick herself in the side of the head. But maybe that had just been her imagination.
As eight o’clock approached, they dispersed and started to change back into tracksuits. Sophie took this as the cue to leave, thanking the teacher and Tasha for inviting her, promising to return the following class, which was to be held on Wednesday. It was only a three minute walk back home again, but her muscles were tired enough that she wasn’t sure she would make it.
But she did, and she managed to return two days later, this time with a leotard, tights and a pair of shoes. And then again, and again, over the weeks that followed. Two months after she started, Ms Edmunds asked Sophie to do something that would mark the first step in her unexpected career.