It is my understanding that in many regions of the globe, people consider ballet to be a feminine endeavor and often infer a negative connotation when speaking of the men involved.
The rest of the world knows better. The rest of the world knows that a ballet dancer, whether male or female, has more toned muscles than most people can hope to even feel in a lifetime.
I can’t say that I had these prejudices before I arrived at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, but any possible inhibitions disappeared when I met Lev. Lev was a member of the Bolshoi company. I was on a recon mission when I first met him. The goal was to gain as much information about the performance before attending. It was imperative that I was only seen attending once then never again.
I asked, “Ty balerinoy?”
He smirked. What I asked was if he was a ballerina.
“Net,” he replied, “ya tantsor.”
He clarified that he was not a ballerina, but a dancer. Lev was perceptive. He could tell that Russian was not my native tongue and was intrigued as to why I was spending my evening in a dingy bar that generally only saw the likes of company regulars. My cover was that I was writing a piece on the ballet. This was untrue, of course, because I couldn’t tell him that I was a C.I.A. agent planted in Moscow to prevent the assassination of a U.S. diplomat attending the performance.
Lev was thrilled to share his stories with me as I pretended to write them down. He was a good man who was homesick. His family wasn’t near and he hardly heard from them. His eyes swelled as he spoke about them and how much he wished they could take a trip to see him, but they couldn’t afford to.
The conversation finally shifted to talk of the ballet performance. Lev’s face lit up with joy when talking about the ballet, almost as much as it had speaking about his family. He said his favorite part was when all the dancers join the stage during the performance and pay tribute to those who came before them by simultaneously performing all five of the basic ballet positions. They go from first to fifth position and then the crowd erupts in applause. He said the standing ovation is what he lives for and it’s unlike anything else on Earth.
After hearing that, I knew that was the moment. That had to be the time when the assassin would target the diplomat. It wouldn’t give me much time, but I would be able to discretely stop him.
The night was here. I successfully concealed my gun, made of a non-metal polymer. Next, I entered the Bolshoi Theatre, taken aback by the beauty of the space. It seemed like thousands of balcony views overlooking the stage. I took my seat. Scanning the balconies, I saw the mark. I saw the man who was going to take the life of the diplomat. Across the theatre, I located the diplomat sitting happily in his seat awaiting the performance.
The ballet began, the dancers danced, it was quite difficult not to become hypnotized in the talent I was witnessing.
Then it happened.
The dancers all stood at first position.
I slowed my breathing for concentration.
The dancers moved to second position.
I reached into my coat.
The dancers moved to third position.
I grasped the handle of the gun.
The dancers moved to fourth position.
I took a deep breathe.
The dancers entered the fifth position.
I stood up, and drew the gun from my coat.
Then I felt it. Thousands of eyes staring at me. No one else stood up. There I stood, in the middle of the prestigious Bolshoi Theatre with a firearm drawn. There were gasps.
I dropped the gun and surrendered with my hands in the air. I looked toward to stage. Lev stood in the foreground. He looked at me and I could see it. I could see the smile on his face. It stretched from ear to ear.
It didn’t make any sense until I looked back to the diplomat’s seat to see his wife screaming over his now lifeless body.
The mission was lost.
Foiled by a man in powder blue tights.