“Everything has been put on hold for your demonstrations Darah” Killian told me. “There will be no incantation classes today. The whole village will gather in the square to watch you dance, and then to have you teach us what you can.”
“Everyone in the village?” I felt the blood drain from my face and my heart started beating very quickly. “I...I’m not sure I can dance for so many people.”
“You’ll do brilliantly. It’s like my casting, all you have to do is feel it and it will come to you. If you try too hard it will never work. Trust me.” I wasn’t wholly reassured but I would give it my best. I couldn’t exactly refuse after the kindness I had been shown. I don’t much know how I’m going to teach them all to dance either, perhaps I will have to stick to one routine, or even just teach them the simplest moves and have them drill them. If we can learn it from childhood then they can too.
“Will I be dancing in the square all day?” I was worried that I might not be able to dance for so long, it takes a lot of energy.
“No, only half the day. The rest will be spent teaching you our crafts, then it will start again tomorrow.” Killian seemed to see that I was nervous still. He put a hand on my shoulder. “You’ll do great Darah. You’ve come this far haven’t you?” He’s right. I have come this far. Even if it does go wrong I’ll be moving on in three moons, I may never see these people again after that.
“Let’s get to it then.” The square was much smaller than the one in our village, it looks like it will be far too cramped for everyone to dance in. I wave over one of the older looking villagers to ask if there is anywhere bigger that we can work.
“Sorry lass,” he said “This is abou’ the biggest space we got. Let me go ‘ave a word with some people and see if we can’t stretch it a bit.” Stretch it? I have no idea how you would go about stretching a space but he’s already hobbling off into the distance before I can ask him. I guess I will just have to wait and see. Five minutes later he’s on his way back with a gaggle of equally elderly hobbling villagers. They all have a box with them, though I have no idea what they might be for. He’s addressing the people who have crowded around me, calling their attention away from this foreign girl in her strange clothes.
“People! People! The girl says this space ‘aint big enough for the lot of us to move in. We need t’ stretch it. Now, this is a big job so everyone past level three of training is going to ‘ave to help.” At those instructions about fifty people scuttled off into their houses and came back out moments later with boxes and bags. They make a large circle around the square, all placing their equipment at their feet and joining hands. “Is this everyone?” shouts the old man. He seems to be one of the people in charge of classes, a master of some kind. I figure that that’s why people listen to him
so much. “Ready then?” he shouts again. How does this tiny man shout so loud? It seems nearly impossible that his voice should fill this space and yet it does. I might need to learn that skill from him before I can teach these villagers anything.
Chanting begins with the old man. Four words over and over that I really cannot understand. Once one person says the words the first time the next person in the circle starts up, it’s incredible to watch. By the time they are half way round the circle a faint glow begins to surround them. I can’t stop watching, it’s the most amazing thing. As the chanting goes further round the circle the glow gets brighter and starts to rise up, it reaches out past the chanters and seems to be pushing them backwards into where the buildings should be. Only the buildings aren’t there anymore, well they are, but they never reach them. The glow goes from gold to a bright azure as the last person joins the chant. It looks almost like a morning mist rolling through the trees, except that it’s shimmering and glistening like water. I am
captivated by its beauty. At the last of the words this time the old man breaks the circle of hands, still chanting, and reaches into his box. Other people are doing the same. He lifts his hand out, fist closed over something unseen. As the rest of the circle similarly lift their hands our he throws his into the air, releasing a shimmering golden dust. The air is filled and I cannot see for a moment. Fifty hands are clapped in unison and the chanting stops. The mist disappears and the dust is allowed to fall to the ground.
The space I am now looking at is twice the size of the one in our village back home. It will certainly be enough to dance in. I still have no idea how I am to start instructing these people. If they know nothing about the ways of dance, which they do not appear to, then it will be a difficult task to instruct them. Perhaps they can combine it with their incantations, which are clearly powerful things, to create something new and special. They’re all looking at me now, expecting something brilliant, so I suppose it’s time I begin.
“Well...that certainly makes a difference to the way we can dance.” I smile towards the man who had taken my request so literally. “If you would all like to find a space, enough space so that you cannot touch the person next to you.” They take instruction well these people, shuffling about until they’re in reasonably decent amounts of space. “Right then.” I still don’t know what I’m going to start them off with. The first thing I learned was balance and slow movement but I don’t think that’s what these people could make any use of. From what I have seen of their incantations it looks as if they rely on their arms more than their feet. So arms are the place to start. “I think the best place to begin is with arm movements. Moving your arms can show many things during a dance. If you move them one way it can give an air of grace while another way it can show anger.” I demonstrate as I talk,
pushing myself up onto my toes to throw my arms to one side then swish them back around my head and back to the front. They applaud this though there is no real reason to. It’s only one movement. “Ok then, now you try that move.” Most of them do fairly well, considering it’s their first attempt. Some of the elderly stumble a little and I notice a child slipping over at the back of the group but nobody complains. They’re all so enthusiastic. “That was good,” I call out to the crowd. “Let’s try it again. Watch me once more and try to do exactly what I do.”