Seth goes on a outing.

Last night I went to watch Rakadu (the troupe that teaches my belly dance classes) perform, and my brain is still reeling.

This doesn’t seem writing related, but it is, because of course my characters went with me.

Seth, in particular, was rather loud, making it almost impossible to “hear” over him at some points. Though Jean was very pleased to recognize a dancer that moved much like Miri. And Naj, of course, just loves everything, always.

But Seth pointed out some really helpful things that will make lovely additions to my writing, so I’m putting this out there as sort of a PSA for writers: whenever possible, go watch people perform. Anyone. Performing anything. The things dancers/actors do with their faces and bodies to tell us a story… It just pure. Distilled. And immensely helpful.

But of course, it was particularly helpful for me since so many of the denizens of A/Hverse are serpents, or trained in serpent dancing.

One dancer, who is gray haired and thin with age, held such grace and power in her motions – she was stunning, and reminded Seth very much of Nica’s great aunt, who hasn’t danced much since her husband died. This is because no one asks her. Seth will remedy that, naturally.

Another was much, much younger, and Seth commented on the fact that she never smiled, except when she was dancing by herself. Once freed of the burden of watching for cues and the fear of a misstep, she came alive, and finally enjoyed herself. A common young serpent trait, he said. Just, in case I was curious, of course.

One dancer was particularly gooey, in the best way, but didn’t recover from mistakes well. Blossoming confidence, but still wanting for a few more years of reassurance. It was also interesting to see in her hips the missing member of the troupe – it was fun to see the lingering echoes of his motions in hers, the ghost of so many years of familiarity. You can read a dancer’s teacher by little nuances like that, he told me.

And, of course, the leader. Always commanding our attention by her mere presences, running with the little unexpected things and taking them inside her, making it part of the show. Dancing not just with her troupe but with the entire audience, guiding us all in when to cheer and when to clap, how to have fun and enjoy the display. That warmed Seth’s serpent heart and made him more than a little bit homesick.

I’ve been to a show before, thrilling with each footfall, feeling the drumbeats fill my blood and thrum through my core, but never before have a sat through a show with a seasoned professional sitting in the back of my head. It’s an entirely different beast. While I can usually pick out some cues from my own practice, and I get all excited when I recognize a move and know that I can-and have- done it, that’s just one dancer’s part of the show. Seth showed me the entire performance as a complete beast, inside and out.

It was simply the best.

I can’t wait for you all to be able to watch he and his brother dance. 🙂

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