July 19, 2014

The Phantom's Dance

Phantom’s Dance by Lesa Howard 

Publication date: March 1st 2014

 photo GR_zps5fe521f1.jpg


Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.

 photo 077b8f97-b6d8-4ea3-995c-e224f76746e8_zpsa41e023d.png photo images3_zps290a34c6.jpg

Ms. Zaborov came for us during repertory again. She and Mrs. Hahn barely acknowledged each other, and I wondered if the competition between ballerinas ever diminished. It obviously hadn’t weakened between these two.

We waited a few minutes and gradually, two and three at a time, the football team trickled into the room. As they’d promised, they were in workout clothes not too different from what male dancers wear, sans the tights. The logo on their T-shirts was like Coach Howell’s, only on closer inspection I noticed the D in Davis High School was fashioned from a snake, its head forming the top of the letter, mouth open and fangs bared. These people were serious about their football.

I’d never been one to chew my nails. In ballet, hands were as instrumental as feet and were to be kept clean and manicured, but now, watching the super-sized, testosterone machines enter the studio, I had to resist the urge to gnaw off a couple of fingernails.

“Don’t look so scared,” Jenna teased. “They won’t bite.”

Oddly, when Raoul walked in, I realized I was no longer nervous. Quite the opposite. I wanted to impress him with my art, to show him who I was and of what I was capable.

Unfortunately, an awkward, invisible line appeared in the room, separating Jenna and me from the boys. We stood on our side, and they on theirs. Eventually, Ms. Zaborov entered and broke some of the tension.

“Ah, and here we are, ready to work, no?” A couple of the boys murmured a response, but Jenna and I remained silent.

Without pause, Ms. Zaborov stationed herself before the group and proceeded to lecture them on the importance of proper training for any physical sport or activity. She was a pixie among giants, but I knew she could snap one like a twig if need be.

Her discourse complete, Ms. Z. moved across the floor to the barre and commanded, “Christine, if you would please,” and I joined her.

“First, we will start with turnout. Christine will demonstrate.”

Placing a hand on the barre, I stood tall in sixth position. I felt exposed—in my leotard and tights, since Ms. Z. wouldn’t allow us to wear a dance skirt because it concealed hip alignment.

“You see,”—she waved a hand for me to move—“notice how the hip is turned out.” I opened my knees, and keeping my heels close, I gradually adjusted my toes outward. 

“This allows for greater extension of the leg. Christine has excellent turnout.”

From somewhere in the crowd, a boy said, “Give me a few minutes with her and I bet I can make her hips turn out.”

Sniggering and high fives bounced around the room, as heat shot up my neck and traveled all the way to my hairline. I tried not to look at them, and in averting my gaze, caught sight of Raoul in the mirror. He elbowed the guy beside him and gave him a dirty look. Then he mouthed something I couldn’t make out, but the guy grimaced and threw his hands in the air in mock offense. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like Raoul Chaney had defended me.



I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.

 photo goodreads_zpse9b757d3.gif


  1. Hi, Alexa. I wanted to thank you for joining the Phantom's Dance blog tour with Xpresso. I really appreciate it.

    my best,
    Lesa Howard

  2. Hmm.. this is a very interesting read!! ;) thanks for sharing the excerpt and for this great giveaway! :)