Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Dancing at Dusk

Each summer in Toronto parks a group called "Dusk Dances" produces a festival. These creative events are, for the audience, completely unpredictable. The dances range from crump through flamenco and jazz to acts like this year’s “1981 FM” by Throwdown Collective. During the latter, the audience laughed and cheered as three dancers moved athletically and comically through a car’s doors and over its roof and hood. The choreography was so clever that I hardly worried about a car door slamming on tender fingers. It didn’t happen.

All of the acts were entertaining, but one performance turned out to be epiphanal. The sun had set and there was just a pink glow left high above us. The audience sat on the grass under a huge maple whose branches were hung with white paper globes lit from within. As ethereal music began, two dancers, dressed in fantastical white costumes slowly moved into the centre of our circle. Their pas de deux was languorous. As they approached and retreated, bent and stretched within the dim evening shadows, a night breeze rustled thousands of dark leaves, adding a gentle percussion, making the moon lanterns sway, and cooling our skin. I looked away from the luminous performers, up at the moving branches, higher to the pink sky, around at the awed crowd, and back again. I shivered with grateful joy. The dancers finished by melting onto the ground, lying still while the audience sighed, and then applauded.

Two days later, in early evening, I heard a cardinal’s song through my open window. Toronto’s major bird population of sparrows, Canada geese, and seagulls don’t add much colour to city life, so even though it’s not unusual to see cardinals, it’s always a pleasure to catch a glimpse of their scarlet feathers. I stepped outside to see if I could spy the cheery singer and there he was on my neighbour’s roof antenna, bright red against the blue summer sky. As I watched, a gold finch darted past him, flashing her yellow in the glowing sunset. Sometimes you have to be quick to notice a pas de deux before it's over, but everyday life is full of dances.

"May the tunes of angels echo in your brain,
May heaven's rhythms tap your twitching feet"

With gratitude to, and in memory of,
poet-priest, Andrew Greeley, 1928-2013