Dance With Me!
A treatise on the Dances of Temuair
By Dominique Ravenkiss
Whether it is a lively Abel Burlesque show, a stately Loures Waltz, or a uninhibited Fae Revel, dancing is a part of our culture. Since ancient times, mundanes have danced to express their joy and their pain, to honor the Gods and to achieve catharsis, and to grow closer to one another. When Deoch’s spark entered the first aisling, dancing took on so much more meaning. Our fae brothers and sisters love to dance, and most aislings share that love. Because of the magic in our souls, we are capable of more intense passions than our mundane friends, and so our dances are more intense, more alive, and more passionate than theirs are.
The different cultures of our world have created dances of drastically dissimilar forms, and yet, all of them are able to express emotions intensely. Some of these dance forms are very culturally isolated, and have rarely been witnessed outside of the culture that produced it.
Mileth has always been associated with spirit, specifically the aisling spirit, and so Mileth is the best place to begin. Mileth is most famous for its energetic Reels, where paired off couples dance in a time-honored pattern as a group to lively violins and hand clapping. Generally at least once a moon, the tavern is lit up with torches and paper lanterns, and mundane and aisling alike gather to dance the Reel, drink huge amounts of Milethian Rum and enjoy themselves.
The Mileth Reel is not the most technical of Temuair’s dances, but it may very well be the most fun. It has the distinction of requiring the least amount of training to perform…almost any peasant can pick it up quickly. Any interested in learning the Reel can contact Duana, the mundane who dances in Mileth Tavern. She organizes the reel events, and will be happy to teach you a few steps for a modest fee.
Lively Abel is best known as a port city of immense popularity with sailors on shore leave. Abel, having a somewhat transient population, never developed a culturally distinct dance of it’s own. However, the streets of taverns, inns, and brothels that line the docks have given rise to new innovations in the Strip Tease. Generally speaking, the strip tease is the slow removal of the dancer’s clothing for the titillation of the audience. When I first researched the Strip Tease, I was under the assumption that stripping is very easy to do, and requires only a minimum of rhythm, a complete lack of modesty, and an attractive figure. I was taught what was necessary to strip, and spent an evening as a Stripper. I learned a number of interesting things.
First of all, drunken sailors with months of pay are very generous with their coins, and stripping is very lucrative. Secondly, stripping offers the dancer an illusion of control. The dancer is in control of the crowd, she can end the dance at any time and all attention is on her. It is very addictive, and I found myself wondering if I may have missed my calling.
The reality of it is, however, that strippers don’t stay young forever. As she ages, the coins flow less freely, and soon, a stripper finds herself with no work. Unless she’s been wise and saved, she finds herself with no money either. It is a sad end for someone who once felt that she was in control.
Piet is famous all over the world for its strength. It is the home of the temple of Ceannlaidir and many great knights and heroes were born in this small village near Loures. This strong tradition of war and valor is the basis for the most important of Piet’s dances, the Piet FireDance. In ancient times, the warriors of Piet would paint their faces and dance around a bonfire to whip themselves into a frenzy before battle, and the violent and dangerous FireDance is a descendent of that.
In the FireDance, young warriors strip down to loincloths and dance violently around a roaring bonfire. They drink strong liquor brewed just for this occasion (called FireWine) and feast on roasted beef. As they energetically circle the fire, they call out to the God of War and leap through the roaring flames. Much of the time, rape occurs as the warriors allow their passions to exceed their self-control, and many male and female warriors end up coupling. Woe to the enemy that faces a troupe of warriors fresh off a FireDance. Legend has it that the warriors are filled with the spirit of Ceannlaidir and they enter a berserk state, becoming totally immune to pain and able to fight on after any other living thing would be dead.
The royal castle of Loures summons visions of gowned Princesses and Nobly armored Knights. Once every four moons, the Royal Ballroom is decorated in Purple and the infamous Royal Masquerade takes place. The dance of choice at this party to end all parties is the grand Loures Waltz: a slow, measured couple dance with precise steps and a host of formalities that must be observed. Generally performed to the incredible works of the late mundane composer Johann B’chos, the Waltz is amazing to watch. Thirty or more couples take position on the Ballroom’s floor and spin and weave among each other. It takes years to learn and much practice to perfect.
The Masquerades are very exclusive, and only the most noble and privileged are invited to attend. The amount of wealth and splendor on display is enough to take the breath away. It is almost a shame that those who participate in this beautiful, formal tradition don’t realize how beautiful a dance it is, and how pale and shallow the jewels, silks, satins, and powders seem when viewed alongside it.
Rucesion may have the distinction of having the most intricate and involved dance in Temuair. The magical city of Rucesion is famous for the ballet, a precise dance form that requires decades of practice to master. A skilled master of this dance is often as strong as the average aisling warrior and as agile as the slyest rogue. The ballets tell a story, and the dance is the forum for the telling. With intricate costumes and incredible physical feats, along with magical special effects, the Rucesion Ballet is a spectacle that I highly recommend. Of all the dances in Temuair, the Ballet alone was one I was unable to dance. I learned the rudiments of it, but I can see I have years of practice ahead of me.
Serious Undine is famous for many things. Unfortunately, Undine has no "Dance" form to speak of. The people of Undine have long since forgotten anything as frivolous as dance. However, using a broader definition of dancing, the intricate martial arts forms the monks of Undine are so famous for may very well be Undine’s "Dance." Truly, no dance in Temuair has steps and movements as formalized as the katas of the animal forms practiced by the monks. The traditional outfits of the Undine katas are the monk outfits that may be purchased in Undine.
At my request, my friends Avice and Savannah were happy to walk me through a few of the simplest katas of the Whitebat form, and I was a bit overwhelmed. They require incredible agility and stamina to hold some of the more awkward positions. I know that young monks practice these stances and movements from the time they learn the simplest ones until they die. I personally met ancient monk sensei that could barely walk, and yet were still able to flow through movements so complex it hurt my eyes just to watch.
Suomi, isolated from the rest of Temuair by oceans, sweltering heat, and the area known only as Astrid, has possibly the most private dance in Temuair, and the one I’m most familiar with. The Suomi Belly-Dance is performed only for masters of harems and their friends. Young girls are raised from age 7 and trained in the sensual art of the Belly Dance. The Belly-Dance requires incredible grace to perform, and years of training. The traditional outfit is a variety of strategically placed, sheer, silk scarves of different colors that may be removed in strip-tease fashion.
Deoch, God of Passion, has his temple in Suomi, and the Suomi Belly-Dance pays homage to him. It is the dance a new bride performs for her husband on the first night of their union. It is something of a shame that most aislings will never be able to watch a performance of this dance, due to its private, almost secret nature.
Dances of the Dubhaimid
There is another type of dance that needs to be mentioned. The dark creatures of the Castle of the Dubhaimid have their own dances. These are dark affairs that celebrate pain, sadness, and death. The movements are horrific and the steps are unspeakable. I witnessed a display by the Cruels and Ghasts, and was horrified. It is a vision I wish I could forget.
Dances of the Fae
No work on dance would be complete without mention of the Faeries that inhabit the world around us. It is from them that we learned to dance, and they love to dance more than any other people. Their dances are the easiest of all to describe. The Fae dances are free of restrictions and completely uninhibited. They let the music flow through them and move as it directs. If you ever find the opportunity to dance with a fae, do yourself a favor and take it. It frees your spirit!
Dancing is an integral part of our society, and some aislings tend to forget the simple cultural roots that bind us to our mundane benefactors. Dancing is a beautiful and enjoyable pastime aisling and mundane alike can participate in and enjoy. I make it a point to dance every chance I get, and I never say no to a dance invitation. I believe there is nothing more satisfying then to get away from the drudgery of politics, hunting, and rivalry in order to dance with a loved one under the moonlit sky of the enchanted garden. The music is always in your heart. Find your music, and come dance with me!