Monday, September 28, 2009

the changing of the seasons

I caught up with Agnes last Sunday and went with her to an afternoon dance. Not something that I would think of doing myself, but it had been talked about the previous night whilst we were having dinner at her place and I thought I would give it a go.

Agnes is a wonderful french lady who lives a few miles away from where I am staying at the moment, she is also restoring an old property and hosts at least ten helpers for most of the year. It was fun being part of a large gathering that evening, after spending a couple of weeks at the tower with Nicholas the bustle of a crowded dining room with wine and much laughter and Pictionary in french and english made a great change, there were people there from all over the world. Half, however, from California, which was strange as I hope to be heading there any day now.

Anyway, she picked me up after lunch and we headed off to a nearby town. Two hours later we arrive in a small medieval town perched on top of a large rock in the middle of a valley, parked the car and hurried up steep cobbled streets to find the dance venue. One of the participants had cleared space in her gallery, an ancient building, teetering on the edge of the town with marvelous views of the countryside to the east, and silhouetted against the sky, the outline of an old church to the west.

We were just in time, within a couple of minutes the church bells tolled three and a surprisingly large gathering of people of many nationalities joined hands in dance. Jenny, our excellent teacher took us through the moves before each dance, in english and french, without music and then to tunes from around the world. We moved in sync, footwork, bodies swaying and arms joined, the occasional twirl or rush to the centre of the room, but for the main part in a large circle swaying and moving in unison and in step with the music.

Once I got the hang of the steps of each dance and stopped looking at my feet, it became a wonderful experience, looking across the room, walls covered with beautiful colourful tapestries and artwork, to see the smiling focussed faces of fellow dancers all moving in the same way. Very Totnes and very enjoyable. The group created or was joined by a wonderful energy, fuelled by our dancing and enjoyed by us all. We danced for three hours, with a couple of small breaks for tea and refreshments to music from around the world. Welsh, French, Israeli, Greek, Turkish, Maori, English, Irish and on and on, it was a wonderful experience and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The event was timed to celebrate the changing of the seasons, at the time of year when the days and nights are the same length. The autumn equinox. An important time in astrology and in many other beliefs.

Everyone had taken something to eat and a great buffet was served once the clock had struck six. Agnes was in a hurry to get home so we stayed a short while, chatting and snacking from the table of plenty. We headed off into the evening for our drive home charged with the energy of the dance and prepared for another two hours of intensive french conversation training. Great.

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