The Last Dance

No rules today. Not one. I don’t have to be anywhere, no punctuality required, no social smiling and being nice to the people with money.

Funding people, who are selfless sometimes but still need to be smiled at. They do smile back though. I think some of them know a bit about our world and what the whole point is, but we still have to do the social grace bit.

I’ll be free of all that today!

Though not quite yet.

I want freedom but no witnesses. There is a place few people go, well two; all dancers have a secret place in the world and another in our souls. Surrounded by woods, a forgotten clearing in a wildlife sanctuary, a lone oak stands near one side as if the others aren’t talking to it. Grass waves waist high, ragwort dancing in the breezes.

There I can move. Move with no one looking.

I’ll never tell you where: it’s secret. You’ll never see.

No choreographer, no music dictating rhythm, no audience.

This is when it happens.

My secret. Actually so many of us have these secrets. Secret places, secret moves.

Sonia does the thing she learned in Holland. Simple moves, like dropping something and picking it up. Disaster mind is the concept. Those unconscious actions following dinner spilt on the floor, the staggering after a road accident as you climb out of a car to help the person you hit.

She does it so well, mixing the mundane with the extreme. I watched her. She didn’t know. It took me days to find her secret place.

And that is the point. Some people misunderstand. They think she’s doing mime or something. No it’s not that. Not even slightly. When it’s danced the move becomes conscious, becomes real. The dancer is the movement. The movement without the unconscious thought. You either get this or you don’t. Even some dancers can’t grasp it fully.

Alex … oh, and Dionne, they way they mix fluid into their dance. The Ueshiba fluid. I caught Alex once in the car park doing ikkio or nikkio as he unlocked his car. There may have been other moves but I’m not even a beginner in martial arts.

We can’t help it. There’s a bloke who did ‘water on a mountain’ in the locker room – developing it as a way to put his jacket on. I walked in. He stopped and left.

We can’t… It’s… I’ll try to explain in another way. I once had a boyfriend who broke a whole sunset down into pigments, second, by second. He told me the techniques to make it work in oils, the canvass he’d use and how you have to understand that it’s not about colour.

Of course I danced it. I was so good he didn’t see the moment the sun went down. That’s what we do. I remember we were both hungry that day. Artists are always hungry – for art as well as food.

Some people think artists should starve. Have you ever fainted from anaemia? Is that what you think is a good thing?

If you are so brain dead why are you alive? Somehow you missed being alive but still move and talk.

I’ve reached my clearing. Barefoot now. Sandals by the oak roots where I’ll be able to find them. It’s going to be a tick disaster in fragile skin places and amongst pubic hair. Midges attack when the clouds blank the sun.

Horseflies anyway, always in this season.

Today my actions are going to be the grass waving, the butterflies … how do they fly? How did that one cross the whole river? How does it know what it’s doing? I put my ignorance and wonder into movement. The furtive beetle, a confused ant, the lime leaves rustling. The hardness of the ground. Sunshine hitting, yes, hitting me, touching, pressing.

I’m so thirsty, let thirsty into my dance.

You’re not here, can’t see, can’t influence.
This is where perfect dance dances. I am dancing a human dancing. Now do you get it?

Fingers of thick smoke curl and beckon in the blackthorn bushes. Creep, creep across the field, weaving and sneaking. Fugitive, almost embarrassed. The apology of fire.

I slide around a stand of thistle. I’m spiky. Purple and serious. I’m tall and important. Don’t come near. I attack standing still.

More smoke, heavy and yellow. It looks like toothpaste or glue, squeezing between twigs.

It catches in the back of my throat. I dance choking, heating up with the air. Upwind something roars and bursts, sparks arc across the sky, thrown high and falling into trees and bushes on the other side. They embrace it. It embraces them. They seize each other.

I can’t see much now. My eyes are full of water. Smoke shrouds everything but the raging glow all around. A fierce crackling hiss almost deafens me as grass, thistle and everything else erupts at once.

I am the blistered dancer, the staggering, gasping, dancing as she loses her senses dancer. It’s absolute, total heat, total pain. I’ve never danced so well. I am perfect!

I am the fire dancer, caressing bark, rippling over it, spiralling up trees, glowing in twigs, exploding boughs. Incandescent in air, I’m buffeted by wind and heat but falling now into reeds on the far bank. They welcome me sparkling, hissing as I fill them with scorching life.

I’m heat and light and hungry ferocity.

More grass, more trees, some houses, some cars. I grow and grow. See my glory, and cower. Flee – or join the dance with me.

©Gary Bonn, 2020