Leaping Beauty Looks Back
Shulman and Elizabeth Kaye
copyright © 1998 by Cary Shulman
1. [Frognapova, 100% frog 1000% ballet diva, wearing boa and sunglasses, is grandly exiting her private plane. From the top step of the ramp, she greets us from on high]
is over! I'm here!"
2.[Frognapova, with her borzois Allegro and Adagio, waves to a crowd of fervent admirers greeting her at JFK. Fans hold flowers and signs that read, "Welcome Farewell Tour" and "Welcome Leaping Beauty". A bewildered traveler who has neither flowers nor a sign questions a fan.]
3.[The fan gives the unknowing bystander a look that could wilt a plastic flower.]
most famous dancer in the world!"
4.[Frognapova has just opened the door of her hotel room for a handsome interviewer. He has a bouquet of flowers and a tape recorder.]
"It's such an
honor to be interviewing you, Madame Frognapova. In
America we've never had the opportunity to see you dance."
5[Frognapova is in elegant repose on the couch, head raised regally as if the air around her were imported. The interviewer sits eagerly on the edge of a chair. The suite looks like the winter palace crammed with packing cases, costumes, photographs, memorabilia galore.]
sees you on stage says you were born to dance."
6.[Flashback to the Lily Pad Follies. Frognapova splashing among other frogs in a frenetic aquacade]
I got start with Lily
Pad Follies. Spitting water was highlight of performance.
I dream of being true artist. I dream of dancing all over
the world. "Don't forget you're a frog", my
parents say. I say, "Don't forget I'm Frognapova."
7.[Frognapova in tiara and tutu scrutinising herself in a full length mirror. She looks a bit out of the ordinary, but doesn't know it]
I admit I am not
perfect for ballerina. But then Nureyev had thick thighs,
Misha is short, Pavlova had not so great turnout. So my
waist is little problem.
8.[Frognapova being turned away by a ballet teacher's secretary]
I hear of great
teacher in St. Petersburg. I use all my money to take
train across Russia. I arrive. His secretary gives me
look like I'm just another frog in tutu. "Serge is
seeing no one", she tells me, "he's suicidally
depressed". "Of course", I reply, "he
hasn't seen me dance."
9. [Serge sits in a hotel room with a bottle of vodka and pistol. He's killed the bottle of vodka and is about to do the same to himself.]
Rivalry is killing
Serge. He hates Vaganova, who has great renown as teacher.
He hear people say, "Vaganova is miracle, she could
teach elephant to dance". Serge gets so angry and
drunk he bets he could teach frog to dance. Everybody
laugh. Serge is furious. "Frog not only dance, but
be great dancer." More laughter. "Not only be
great dancer, but dance at Kirov." Next morning he
has only hangover, no dancing frog.
10.[Serge watches in amazement as Frognapova dances in moonlight on a rooftop across the street]
Serge sees me. I am
heavenly vision. My exquisite turnout, mobile feet, leaps
he only dreamed of. He comes to me with words I deserve
to hear. "You float above the clouds like an angel."
"Is nothing", I reply, "I start on cloud
nine and go up from there."
11.[Frognapova the only amphibian in ballet class. The other students look at her with complete disdain]
First day, people make
fun. One girl asks, "What is frog doing in ballet
class? Is she hopping to be ballerina?" "Just
wait", I say.
12.[Frognapova and Serge in studio. Serge is passionately lecturing her as she's dancing between piles of boxes of take- out food and paper cups as if they have never left the studio.]
Serge prepares me
nonstop for international competition. When I complain he
quotes Hemingway. Grace under pressure, that is ballet.
13.[Frognapova at airport sitting with her two borzois on top of a mountain of steamer trunks, suitcases and hat boxes.]
I leave for
competition. I will dance Sleeping Beauty. Dear Serge
sees me off. Everyone else in country probably at
anniversary of sputnik. Serge advises travel lightly. My
motto for life and luggage, "'Go with everything I
14.[Frognapova triumphantly wearing the gold medal, being carried by a crowd of 5,000 people.]
I return. Everyone in
crowd shouting Leaping Beauty!, Leaping Beauty! Was not
just victory for me, was victory for frogs everywhere.
For a while this very important to me. Now I tire of
being credit to species. Do they say Margot Fonteyn is
credit to her species?
15[Frognapova looking at a picture of a beautiful swan, rolling her big eyes in total bewilderment.]
I become principal
dancer at Kirov. I prepare for debut in Swan Lake.
Practice goes well, but something bother me. I ask Serge.
"I can never understand, why swans?"
16.[Frognapova is being introduced to a tall, handsome fellow dancer at a reception. It's love at first sight.]
I have first love
affair. Dancing suffer. I suffer. Must be realistic I
tell him, this would never work. I dance at Kirov, you at
17.[Frognapova having the diva vapors as her lover runs off]
He rushes off swearing
never to return. My heart goes with him. I lose my mind.
What's left for Swan Lake? With my legs anything is
18.[Frognapova, in leg warmers, waiting in the wings at the Kirov. Her meditative self rapture would put Yogananda to shame.
One by one I banish
negative thoughts. What if applause deafens someone? What
if other ballerinas are green with envy? Is nice shade, I
can live with it.
19.[Frognapova on stage in Swan Lake, her arms crossed in Swan pose.]
I appear. Audience
sees Frognapova on stage for first time. They gasp.
Costume so ravishing. Then I dance and they forget about
costume. 92 curtain calls, but who's counting. I never
read critics, but somehow I see, "Frognapova makes
big splash. Swan Lake is her pond."
20.[Frognapova and a divinely handsome dance partner stealing a kiss while dancing in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. She's obviously thrilled to see herself so lavishly reflected.]
We go on tour. In
Paris I create sensation. I am talk of town. Lucky for me
the French use body language.
21.[Frognapova is being served at Tour d'Argent. The waiter is proudly unveiling a silver tray of frogslegs as Frognapova's wide eyes widen in total horror.]
I dine at five star
restaurant. Finest champagnes, finest caviar, finest I
can't believe my eyes.
a protest in front of Tour d'Argent, followed by French
I organise protest. We
have to draw line. Dog eat dog world is already bad
23.[Frognapova being fitted by seamstress, pleasantly surprised by slimmer figure.]
I don't eat for months.
I am inconsolable. I lose weight. Seamstress has to take
in all my costumes. Is too bad about French frogs, but
somehow I get over it.
24.[Frognapova on stage with KGB in trenchcoats and ballet shoes.]
Next season was
nightmare. Authorities worry I will defect. I'm followed
by KGB everywhere. Officials threaten to re-choreograph
ballet. I tell them, if you want KGB agents on stage, do
25.[KGB agents watch
in the distance as Frognapova is being swept out to sea,
During foreign tour I
defect. Simple, jump off bridge, swim to other side.
Current sweeps me out towards sea. I imagine sinking in
icy cold water. I imagine sharks and sea creatures
nibbling off arms and legs. I am resigned to worst. And
then heart stop.
26.[Frognapova imagines herself on some tropical island where she's lost in a crowd of hula skirted dancers]
What if current takes
me to place where I am not star?!
swimming like mad toward shore]
28.[Frognapova lying in a puddle of water on shore. Alone and only half conscious, she's still managing to do CPR on herself.]
Shore turns out to be
nearer than I thought. My lungs are filled with water. I
feel life ebbing away. Luckily I remember Red Cross
training and revive myself. Is not easy, but true love
finds a way.
29. [A revived Frognapova imagines herself in America. Her name in lights on Times Square. Five stars on the Hollywood walk of fame. Her face on Mount Rushmore. A headline in the Enquirer-"Frognapova Spellbinds Aliens"]
So many opportunites
ahead of me in America. I will be like tadpole in candy
30.[Dept. of Agriculture quarantine form for Frognapova, including description and terrible passportlike picture.]
Agriculture sends form, I am to be quarantined. I am
furious. They say if we make exception for you, have to
let in anacondas and pit vipers. I inform them, you not
make exception, my parents make exception. They make
Frognapova. Besides plenty of snakes already in country.
31.[La Scala stage collapses under the weight of thousands of roses, Frognapova falls with it]
I show them. I stay in
Europe and give performance of my life. Too good. Nobody
has ever given too good performance. I am first in ballet
history. I am showered with roses. More roses come. Still
more. Thousands. No such shower since Noah. I was made
for such adulation, but stage was not. I fall into a bed
of roses. And believe me it was no bed of roses.
32.[Frognapova, on crutches with her foot in a cast, looks forlorn as she watches other dancers practise. Even Allegro and Adagio next to her look downhearted.]
Injury gets worse. I
try everything. I learn as much as doctor except keeping
straight face when giving bill. Nothing helps. I despair.
What is Frognapova without ballet? What is ballet without
33.[Frognapova imagining hoop skirted self as Scarlett in "Gone with the Wind". Her borzois are with her at Tara.]
Whole life ahead of
you people say. What's ahead of me is other ballerinas.
They offer suggestions, like go into movies. Frognapova
in Hollywood? There hasn't been decent part for actress
since "Gone with the Wind".
34.[Frognapova on therapists couch. Even lying down she seems above it all.]
I see shrink. He says
I am narcissistic. "You need to find something
greater than yourself", he advises. "You've got
to be kidding", I say.
35.[Frognapova jumping on a collapsing Berlin Wall]
Is hard to occupy time
without ballet. Ending Communism was silly thing to do
when I have injury.
36.[Frognapova and Serge having a serious heart to heart walking in a park in St. Petersburg]
I go on to Russia. Is
whole new world. I see Serge. So much to talk about.
37.[Frognapova concluding the interview]
"And here you are.
It's a miracle."
38.[Frognapova jumping out of the page toward us and waving]
"I'm fantastic at
jumping to conclusions. Till we meet again, Love to all
copyright © 1998 by