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Christmas Drama Fiction

In New York, there's an talent agency known as The Light Foot Company or LF Co. for short. LF Co. was established in 1921 and is one of the leading talent agency for many aspiring thespians, dancers, singers, directors, filmmakers, playwrights among others for nearly 100 years. Among Hollywood's and Broadway's alumni, several have been in some sort of contact with the LF Co. One of there alumni was a dancer by the name of Courtney Teak.

Courtney grew up immersed in the entertainment world under the thumb of prominent casting directors. His mother, Julia Burns, was a casting director who's main specialty was the acting world. She sponsored and even trained several actors, gearing them up for more notable roles in television and film. She applied her techniques with the might and strength of an industrial drill and made sure the lessons were absorbed 100% and adhered to long after the actors landed their roles. So hard and bitter was Julia, that she was awarded the moniker "Lady Drill Sergeant" for applying techniques used by Army drill sergeants: she was training a legion of actors/actresses and would even go so far as to change and mold them to be as tough and unforgiving as she was to them. Although not every actor adhered to her strict lessons, there was something to learn from her. Even after a decade or two in the acting world, famous names from the big and small screens still found the time to come in touch with Julia, even if they dropped and replaced her with more amiable, parentlike casting directors.

Courtney's father, Donovan Teak, was a prominent casting director and accomplished playwright. Brash and unapologetic, Donovan's plays explored uncommon and broader topics of discussion, sometimes along the lines of sexual health, race relations, harassment, shame culture and several others. The deeper themes of his plays were very controversial for the time period and he often needed to rely on work-arounds, just to get them onto a stage. For this, Donovan's most famous plays had seemingly unrelated titles, which he was not very fond of. He believed the absurd names cheapened or diminished the point of the play's main themes and would potentially derail further discussion. This absurd naming practice ceased in the late 1970s and 1980s. Critics originally believed that he was getting careless with his content, which is half true. Coinciding with his progression into middle age, Donovan started to care less and less about the critics. He loved his plays and that was important to him. Incidentally, some of the actors previously screened by Julia would eventually move on to star in several of Donovan's plays.

Throughout his childhood, Courtney was given glimpses into the entertainment world: reading up on acting and directing; learning the lingo and slang associated with the acting world; brushing up on the history; he even developed some ideas of his own during middle and high school, investing heavily into his English classes, sometimes at the expense of the rest of his studies. With coaching from Julia, Courtney always auditioned for roles in plays produced by his school. Though Donovan was far from impressed with these roles. The amateurish acting in school productions was beneath him. To some extent, Julia agreed. But if Courtney was to gain experience, he needed to start somewhere.

Courtney's acting was of the bare minimum, though he didn't mind it much. His true talents were baked in dancing. Whilst he was developing these stories in between schoolwork, there were little drawings in his notes of people in dynamic positions, bending and contorting unrealistically with music notes above them. For Courtney, he didn't want to be an actor like the many thespians sponsored and trained by his parents. To him, it was a gateway into a more creative and talented world. Dancing was his true passion, and for many years in school and even on Broadway he'd auditioned for roles as the backup dancer, one day hoping to be the lead in a musical development.

Crossing the threshold from acting to dance and theater, Courtney took note of all he'd seen. The performances he observed; the rumors he'd heard; the casting directors looking for dancers; the open positions; whatever Courtney heard, he penned them all. Sometimes, at night before bed, he would take note of which of his notes were the most important to becoming a dancer and discarded most of the unimportant writings. The first spot he landed was for a musical called We're Only Human. The casting director, a shrewd old woman named Selma Tuttle, demanded he give her his best performance. Accompanied by bombastic soundtracks, Courtney put his talents to the test. He moved to the beat of the music, propelled himself high in the air and lowering himself in response to the change in tone and pitch.

The audition itself was a physical tax on Courtney and he was only 23. At the end, the bottoms of his feet pounded like jackhammers, he was drenched in his own sweat, and he felt like his lungs were moving closer to his mouth as he panted and gasped for a breath of air. Miss Tuttle was a lot of things, but cruel wasn't one of them; a change in tone from Courtney's whip-cracking mother, Julia. The performance only moved her half a centimeter, but it intrigued Tuttle enough to consider Courtney a slightly more prominent role in the performance of We're Only Human. His role was supposed to be second to that of the lead and during the choreography, he never missed a beat. He picked up what fellow dancers put down, he was the highlight of the musical, the cock of the walk, the popular kid in town. And yet, each performance wanted its own piece of him.

By the time Courtney was 29, he could sense something big coming. For every performance that demanded him to go to the extremes, his legs and hips gradually became more strained. Sometimes, he would be sore for days after a very dramatic performance, and it continued to build up. Thankfully, Miss Tuttle, playing the part of gentle old lady, gave benefits and bonuses to her dancers and actors, the most notable ones being paid vacation time. During the holidays, Courtney requested that he take a two-week vacation to rest and recover from the soreness. Tuttle granted him his wish and spent the last two weeks in December off of his feet. The last six years, he spent his vacation practicing his movements so he could stay nimble. But this would be the first time he would try to kick back and relax. It wasn't an easy task for a prolific dancer though. Six years of extensive dancing had conditioned his muscles to keep on moving even when still and Courtney's biggest challenge was to sit still until the New Year.

First, his coaches demanded him to move at expert speeds when he was merely a beginner. Next, the directors repeated these demands with the fury and vigor of a perpetual motion machine. Now, his body was disobeying his wishes, attempting to run forever when he really needs his rest. The relaxing holiday vacation Courtney was hoping for didn't appear to be as relaxing as he'd hoped.

December 24, 2020 23:36

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