Tarentella, Dance together

Course led by Malaïka Weber

(August 31, 2003)


We were 20 boys and girls who danced the tarantella on wet grass. The morning shower on this early autumn day had washed the sky. Grey and white clouds invited the light, I was watching the green stripe on Lake Leman, over there, near the fountain of the Geneva harbor that one could make out further.


When had I run barefoot in the fields of my childhood?  Perhaps never!  My mother always said to beware of snakes, wasps, bees that roamed in the grass and waited for the careless child to attack her.


The rain had chased all that bite.  I remembered my first steps on the earth.  In one freeing swoop, bodies leapt in the fresh September wind, reds, greys, blacks and purples.  Arms in the air and hair wild, cries of joy, chaotic frolicking like newborns.


Then the music rises, the circle is formed, the rhythm little by little takes possession of the bodies, in a throbbing balance, a run-up forward, a return backward, a spin that flips the ground and the sky.  The trees, apple trees of love, surround us and offer us their branches.


The earth receives us, its softness welcomes tired feet, the feet, if often forgotten, twisted.  Through dance, we taste the sensual delight of having feet upon the earth.  Each one of us cries his name and we in chorus echo it, each one finds his place in the universe and all the others make him recognize it.


It is good to live in one’s name.


In the dance, all bodies are beautiful.  Old, heavy or thin, haunted by the movement, they find their precise breathing, stretching with grace.  The dancers spread out in a spiral like a great colored snake, in the manner of those that the Chinese brandish for their New Year.  Then the bodies roll up onto themselves and form a ball at rest, all round also within, like the snail that lives in its shell.


It’s not long before the desire comes back to leave its horns and to inhale the outside air.  Then the dancers, in the manner of Shiva, wave their arms before turning on themselves. 


In space as in time, we advance in many directions, from spiraling impasses, from rebounding falls, from misleading proximities and abolished distances.

In search of a compass, the body on its axis points the arms towards the north, towards the south, towards the east and towards the west.  


The glance follows the line of mountains, the world is vast.  In extending the arms, all that space is mine.  I lack nothing.  Or rather, I am a body infinitesimal in the cosmos which encircles me peacefully, I have my place there like the ant or the firefly.


Great white birds, cranes I imagine, outline the sky with their wings.  Very naturally, men and women imitate their ballet and leave the labyrinth.  The night falls sweetly on the stones which stored the heat of the sun. 


Feast, the grapes and the plums, the olives, the bread and the good wine.  All the lights are extinguished.  Then one sees the dancing of the fireflies.


Text by Sylvie Blondel