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Leaps And Twirls Around The World No 2 The Dancing Bear Of Bern
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Leaps and Twirls are back on another adventure through the dance floor - this time to Bern, Switzerland! A dancing bear is on the loose in the city and Leaps, Twirls and their new friend Gabriel are determined to find him!
Streaks of sunshine were leaping through the windows of Jewels, Miss Julie's Dance Centre, and everyone was talking excitedly about last week's spring dance recital.
"Your dancing was sensational, my Jewels," praised Miss Julie, "and you each shined like sparkling gems!"
Leapsetta, otherwise known as Leaps, and Twirlsabelle, who liked to be called Twirls, remembered the dance with lots of new steps that they had performed together. It had fun flamenco dance steps that they had learned during a magical trip to Madrid, Spain.
Leaps' absolute favourite dance step was leaping.
...while her friend, Twirls, wanted to do Twirls just about everywhere!
"I have wonderful news for all of my Jewels today," Miss Julie announced "There will be a dance showcase at the end of the summer called 'Summer Sensations.' You will perform a sensational jazz combination with high kicks and splits."
Some of the girls in the studio cheered "Yay!" and one yelled "I can't wait!" but two were open mouthed and growing pale.
"I can't do a split," whispered Leaps to Twirls. "The last time I tried, it was so hard that I gave up."
"I can't do high kicks," whispered Twirls to Leaps. "I tried a few times to kick my leg up to my nose, but it only got as far as my belly button."
"Don't worry, we will have the whole summer to practice," Miss Julie said, and then added, while looking straight at Leaps and Twirls, "and remember, new steps bring new adventures!"
After a jazz warm-up with lots of stretching, Miss Julie started teaching a dance combination with leaps, which was a piece of cake for Leaps, followed by pirouettes which Twirls absolutely loved.
Next came four very high kicks and a split down to the floor.
"The only split that I like is a banana split!" Leaps cried.
"Now I feel like having ice cream." Twirls said.
"Practice girls, practice!!" Miss Julie called out to her students. "The more you practice, the easier it gets!"
Leaps and Twirls counted 1-2-3-4 as they kicked the highest they could, and then counted 1-2-3 as they tried to slide down into a split, but on the count of four they both disappeared straight through the dance floor!
All of a sudden Leaps and Twirls were soaring like eagles in a bright blue sky!
"WOW!!!" they both screamed at once. "We're flying!"
Leaps shouted. "We're on top of the world!"
Twirls shouted to the birds that were flying nearby.
Both girls remembered so clearly the last time they had travelled through the dance floor of Jewels and had flown to Madrid.
Where would they land this time? Where would their next adventure be?
Who-o-o-sh! Who-o-o-sh! Who-o-o-osh! went bursts of wind in the girls' faces as they flew in the endless sky.
What felt like only minutes later, Twirls spotted giant mountain peaks and they were getting closer and closer.
"I see a really long blue scarf, wait a minute," said Leaps, "that's not a scarf; it's a river!"
"I see a whole bunch of different sized blocks," said Twirls, "wait a minute, those aren't blocks; they're buildings!"
"We're landing!" cried leaps and Twirls, and boy were they landing fast!
"LOOK OUT!!!" they shouted, but it was too late.
They leapt right into a boy, knocking him flat on the ground.
"We're so sorry!" Twirls said.
"Are you okay?" Leaps asked the boy.
"I'm fine," he said, brushing himself off while getting up slowly and putting on his glasses. "Good they're not broken! I need to be able to see well in order to spot a bear that's on the loose in Bern!"
"A bear that's on the loose?" Twirls asked sounding afraid.
"In Bern?" Leaps asked looking confused.
"Let me explain," the boy said, "first of all, let me introduce myself; my name is Gabriel. Bon Jour! That means 'hello' in French. You have landed in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. People speak German and French here, but many know English."
"My name is Leaps and this is my friend Twirls."
"Are you dancers?" Gabriel asked.
"Yes we are!" answered Twirls happily as she performed the perfect twirl.
"Perfect!" Gabriel exclaimed while clapping his hands and almost jumping two feet in the air with excitement. "You see; the bear that we need to find is, well, the talk around town is that he is a dancer."
Leaps and Twirls were just about to have a good long laugh when the beautiful sound of bells started chiming right above their heads. They both looked up to see the tallest clock they had ever seen and it looked like it came straight out of a storybook!
In fact, the old town they were in was so charming and pretty, it too looked like it leapt off the pages of a storybook.
"That is the famous clock tower that lots of people from all over the world come to see. If you keep looking up, you'll see why." Gabriel said.
"I see a rooster on the clock!" Twirls cried.
"I see a man hitting a bell at the top of the clock!" Leaps shouted.
She wished she could take a gigantic leap up there to see the man up close.
Lots of people were gathered around the clock to see all different characters move on the top of the clock as the bells chimed.
"Leaps and Twirls, will you please have lunch with me?" Gabriel asked.
"We need lots of energy if we are going to search for the dancing bear. If your answer is yes, please say 'oui.' That means 'yes' in French."
"Oui!" both girls answered very eagerly at once.
As they walked past lots of cafes and small shops in old town Bern, Gabriel explained that one of the bears from Bern's beautiful bear park had escaped into the city, and he didn't just walk out of the park - he did a whole bunch of extraordinary dance moves out of the park!
"Maybe he did a flying leap across the river." Leaps suggested.
"Or maybe he twirled his way out of the park." Twirls guessed.
Gabriel, Leaps and Twirls stopped outside of a gift shop with all sorts of adorable stuffed bears in the window.
"Bears are important in our city," Gabriel explained. "In fact, Bern means 'bear', our flag has a bear on it too."
The friends enjoyed a delicious lunch of fondue, a popular dish in Switzerland.
Dipping bread into melted cheese was something totally new for Leaps and Twirls.
After their tummies were all warmed up from the fondue, Twirls said, "Hey, fondu is also the name of a ballet step! Miss Julie, our dance teacher, told us that fondu means to sink down or melt."
"And we just ate melted cheese!" Gabriel said.
Just then Leaps turned her head and saw something unbelievable.
"Unless I'm dreaming my friends, there's a big bear over there at the other table; and he's doing a fondu!"
Sure enough, the bear was sinking down slowly into plie on one leg while holding onto a chair for balance.
"That bear thinks he's a ballet dancer!" someone at the next table said.
Some people laughed while others screamed, causing a few dishes to break onto the floor.
All this commotion caused the bear to do very fast turns all the way out the door and into the streets of old town.
"Quick, follow that bear!" Gabriel shouted.
The three friends searched in and out of shops and up and down busy streets, but the bear was nowhere to be found. Finally, on a large plaza near the Swiss Parliament building the friends spotted a group of talented musicians playing a lively, catchy tune as the dancing bear was shaking his furry hips and doing very high kicks - almost touching his leg to his nose!
(Miss Julie would be very impressed.)
Many people were surrounding the bear and clapping and cheering loudly as he danced.
This crowd was definitely not afraid of the bear; they clearly thought he was an awesome dancer worthy of their attention. Unfortunately, a blaring police siren interrupted the bears performance and seconds later a large police van headed toward the crowd.
"I think the police want to bring the bear back to his home." Gabriel said.
"That bear is not ready to go back home!" Twirls declared. "He wants to perform for the people of Bern!"
The dancing bear, startled by the loud siren, bolted into the crowd, past the musicians and onto the city streets.
The friends agreed that before searching once again for that very talented and very fast moving bear, they needed energy, so off they went to Bern's best bakery for a delicious treat.
After eating every last crumb of their streusel topped bear claws at their window seats, Leaps saw the dancing bear leap by in a flash.
"Follow that bear!" she shouted.
Leaps did her own special leaps, Twirls did twirl after twirl after twirl, and Gabriel didn't know how to dance, so he just ran, trying to keep his glasses from sliding down his nose.
After searching high on a bridge with a terrific view of town, and low down to the Aare River in case the bear had a sudden urge to cool himself off; the friends still couldn't find the bear.
Gabriel decided it was a good idea to take a break in Bern's beautiful rose garden.
Leaps and Twirls couldn't have agreed more.
They drank cold refreshing juice drinks as they walked through the glorious garden that was bursting with colour everywhere.
'There must be hundreds of flowers here!' Leaps and Twirls thought.
They also loved the amazing view of old town Bern far below them.
Something instantly caught Gabriel's attention in the middle of the garden.
"My friends, I see another amazing view and he is jumping very gracefully high above the roses!"
Several tourists ran away quickly, not expecting to see a dancing bear in the most beautiful garden in Bern.
Some people were pointing at the bear and laughing, while others were jumping near him trying to see if they could also jump higher than the roses!
Gabriel took out his cell phone and immediately began taking pictures.
Leaps and Twirls thought that was a great idea since at that very moment the big, bold, and extremely flexible bear did a perfect split on the grass!
Then Leaps did something bold, she walked right up to the bear and said, "Excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt your dancing, but I just had to tell you that you are a beary, beary good dancer!"
The bear thought that was so funny that he rolled onto his back, and laughed so much that anyone passing by would think he was being tickled!
"Thank You! My name is Noah." the bear said.
"Nice to meet you, Noah. My name is Leaps and these are my friends, Twirls and Gabriel." "Nice to meet you too!" Noah said cheerfully, and then did two impressive double pirouettes. "How did you get to be such a great dancer?" Twirls asked.
"I practice a lot." Noah said. "The more I practice, the better I dance. Also I practice different types of steps, even the hard ones, so that I can dance better and better."
Leaps and Twirls thought that was very inspiring and knew right away that as soon as they got back to their dance studio they would practice, practice, practice until their kicks reached the sky and their splits hit the floor!
"Would you like to see where I practice?" Noah asked.
Noah took his new friends to his home, a hilly bear park where lots of people were watching the bears play and eat.
"Every day I practice my dance steps on the grass over there." Noah said, pointing to his favourite spot in the shade.
"Today I thought it was about time I had a beary exciting day dancing all over the city." Noah's beary word made all the friends laugh.
"It feels good to be home again, but I'll never forget my dancing adventure." Noah said.
"Who knows? Maybe you'll be back another day dancing through the city." said Gabriel.
Noah winked and with a great big smile he headed towards his bear friends in the park, but not without doing some fancy footwork on the way.
"Come my Jewels, it's time to practice your dancing!" came a familiar voice from far away. "Come my Jewels..."
"Gabriel, it's time for us to return home." Leaps said.
"Thank you for taking us with you on your search for the dancing bear of Bern." Twirls said. "We not only made friends with a dancing bear; we made friends with each other." Gabriel said.
In a flash, Leaps and Twirls were right in front of their dance studio mirror again!
Even after their big trip, they both felt a terrific energy throughout their entire bodies. "Let's practice our high kicks and splits once again," Miss Julie said to the class, "and then we will learn how to add them to our dance."
Leaps and Twirls looked at each other and they could 'bearly' contain their excitement.
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