More Tahitian Dances

While we boys had been playing social sailing out on the waves, Beatriz and her friends were busy preparing tonight’s performance. For quite many weeks now Fabienne had been coaching her troupe of dancers with her unceasing flow of focused energy towards this culminating event, where she would present her latest choreographies to the local audience assembled at a fundraising event for some organization associated with the catholic cathedral. It is to take place tonight on the cobble stone plaza in front of the gate that leads visitors up to the entrance of the cathedral, which, should you somehow be able to mentally wipe aside all knowledge of the repression and systematic mental mutilation the catholic church has been spreading all around the globe for centuries on end, is actually quite an architectonical wonder. Elaborate woodcarvings decorate its stonewalls, telling the mysterious story of a bearded savior who was brutally nailed to a cross by a gang of mean soldiers in steel helmets, a cross he was made to carry on his aching back up a steep mountain side. So far fetched is this piece of dogmatic literature that people all over the wild wide world have decided to abandon their own legends full of much deeper and far more practical meaning behind and follow sheepishly the calling of these pale-faced tellers of many other heavenly stories into temples of twelve corners, where they learn to open up deep rifts inside their hearts and separate the good and evils sides of their thinking with a wall of anxiety so impenetrably thick, that only constant organized warfare can keep the devils at bay. But I digress…

Fabienne’s show of sheer physical discipline lead tightly by a dedicated study of tradition tells of a similar conflict tearing modern man apart. I’m suspicious of any and each of the many mental models we attach ourselves to so that we have a means of explaining and justifying our follies, but the one that lectures that the tradition is somewhere hidden behind the mists of the distant past and modernity is what streams profusely out of the present time is a trickster of truly destructive talent. Look closely at the dancers of those so-called traditional dances and you’ll see clearly that they’re not moved by something past and behind them. Their being pulled towards something they’re strongly longing for, where the mind quietly but concisely moves muscles harmoniously and so gracefully that everybody within reach instantly forgets how far away we live from the source of lust and living. The work it takes to get there is brutal and truly endless, and Fabienne has been doing more than her part to provide a method to the madness, allowing willing subjects of any breed and creed to taste the soothing fullness that comes with all highly developed art forms, which reach out generously to the ancients for guidance but forge ahead powerfully burning right through the focal point of the presence to face the future with a serene smiling face, a strong pounding heart, lovingly clenching fists and firmly rooted feet.

The actual reality of all this is, as you might imagine, much less burdened by heavy analytical thought. Over the last couple days the dancers have collected gazillions of colored flowers and leaves and today during the day they sat down in many places to gaily chat and gossip, while assembling all those into crowns, collars and skirts, with which they then accentuate not only the curves and crests of their moving bodies, but also enrich their fragrance in truly nauseating proportions. It takes an unsightly number of hours of highly skilled hands to fabricate costumes out of pieces of natural vegetation. Again here any mastered technique helps to improve the esthetic pleasing of the accessory produced. So the ones in the know coach the uninitiated along, gently explaining patterns of the joinery, knots and braids and other ways to connect odd ends into endless loops that will fit tight enough without constraint during the wild ride of the show.

At four a last rehearsal in situ serves to tweak the choreography into its most close approximation to pure perfection, clearing our dissonant discord between conceptual ideas and always unruly bodily joints, refining the intimate dialogue between the musicians sitting on their foot high stools, cranking out precisely complex rhythms that pull the dancers forward in time, and the dancers, who have waxed the most outward feathers on their outstretched wings and are now ready to face the ultimate beast, the clearly curious, intrinsically clever, viscously jealous, destructively critical, furiously judgmental but always very supportive audience. Its members, spoon and fork in hand, will be emotionally torn between the visual and acoustic feast of the dance performance and the tasty temptation of a culinary creation sitting right in front of them in a plastic plate and constantly emanating smell enticing vapors full of a magic spell that distracts the collective consciousness away from the respectful attention their fellow brother and sister’s artistic efforts deserve.

We’re making our way now past a vast number of parked pickup trucks along the waterfront and then along the entryway to the cobble stone plaza under the giant mango trees. Here in this tiny little town very few visionary people can even conceive the possibility of arriving at a social event on foot. The overwhelming majority here feverishly partakes in the cult of waxing hoods and other automotive body parts into the socially highly relevant realm of shininess. Then those essential pieces of post-industrial self-esteem are promenaded proudly down the few blocks of roads you can displace yourself on without going around in circles and are parked demonstratively as close as possible to the action, so that the tired body must not walk more than a few steps to park itself in the final position for enjoying the evening.

A flurry of last minute instructions makes rounds amongst the fully dressed performers, who congregate along the perimeter of the plaza, artfully hiding their slight nervousness behind an expression of complete coolness, while the MC warms up the sizable audience with slithery jokes, tricky trivia, sweet romantic singing and some pretty awkward looking mock up of a fashion show, where groups of clearly overdressed toddlers prod an imaginary boardwalk and pose supermodel like to receive the roaring applause of the crowd. After what seems like an eternity filled with chances for small talk here and there it is finally time for the main number of the night. The musicians carry their hollowed logs, little stools, hand and bass drums to the other side of the stage and the show begins. I will not dive into the truly daunting task of trying to describe the indescribable and leave you with another piece of mediated reality for you to sit back and enjoy. Let the show begin!

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