It was a strange place, that dance school, tucked away from the world outside by a mile-long drive and consisting of several large, ramshackle buildings, joined together by a precarious network of covered passageways, corridors and tunnels. In the winter, when it rained and the bitter weather caused the water to freeze, students had been known to slip on the ice while trying to make their way to lessons, so classes usually finished in early December.
It was now June, and the annual show was fast approaching. Emma and Kate were both performing, but in separate groups, and they were constantly rehearsing and practicing and rehearsing and practising, all day long. Every evening when they returned to the dorms they were shattered, fit only to collapse onto the bed -- and then they had to go down to dinner, a taxing chore when they were that exhausted.
But the fatigue was nothing knew, because it was like that all year through. Take a regular week in Emma's timetable, for example. On Mondays, the morning would be dedicated to the core subjects such as English, Maths and Science, which were compulsory despite the fact it was a dance school. At twelve o'clock they had French, and at one o'clock it was lunch time. In the afternoon, she would head to the dance studio for her ballet class, which lasted for an hour and a half, before returning to the dorms for a quick shower.
From there she made her way to the gym for an Irish dancing class, two hours long. Ballet was just a cross-training exercise, nothing serious, despite the fact that she was at a high level and was perfectly qualified to dance en pointe if necessary. Each girl specialised in something different: Emma and Kate were among the Irish dancers, Danielle and Elizabeth did Ballet, Eleanor and Beatrice were into tap ... the list went on.
After the dance class, Emma had to attend two more 'real' lessons -- usually History and ICT on a Monday, although it varied greatly. Dinner followed soon after, and homework after that. There was little time for relaxation, but as Kate said, "The dance is our relaxation. It's what we love to do."
Understandably, many of the girls that attended such a strange place were rich. It was merely a coincidence, since the fees were relatively low and almost fifty percent of the students had achieved a scholarship to attend, although of course it could have been that to dance in the first place they would have needed money for classes. But they all pulled together, arguments were few and enemies even fewer.
Yet it was not a normal place, because there was one room that nobody ever went into.