Come Back – Tina Barry
Anemones – Jon Sindell
Sinfonia – Kay Shacklock
Ariadne’s Wedding Dance – Jacqueline Doyle
The Dance of Sound on Our Skins – Patrick Pink
It was a teenage wedding – Carrie Beckwith
The Wallflower — Becca Joyce
Pointed – Jennifer Fliss
Hard-boiled Egg Story – Jonathan Cardew
The Gringa Can Dance – Claire Ibarra
Birthright – Alex Reece Abbott
Hands – Iona Winter
The Albatross Tattoo – Melanie Dixon
Someone Has To Lead – Bart Van Goethem
Baba Yaga Pas de Deux – Andrew Stancek
Mainstreaming at the Middle-School Social – Linda Simoni-Wastila
Mannykin – Celine Gibson
Dancers are a hazard on city streets – Heather McQuillan
Dancing Lessons – Jane Swan
Dancers in the Audience – Austin Conner
Revolution – Rachel Smith
Featherstep – Shreyasi Majumdar
Feature interview: Rebecca Styles speaks with NFFD 2016 judges Elizabeth Smither and James Norcliffe
Highlight on books: Louise Wareham Leonard’s new collection 52 Men
People From Our Pages: Tina Barry
People From Our Pages: Sherrie Flick
in your hospital gown bleached gray as an old dog’s beard, the robe hanging from the anvil of your back, gnarled feet in paper slippers. I’ll float you away on a carpet of bed sheets. Paddle boat to the edge of a gently sighing lake. Speed you away on skates. Do you remember the book of costumes you wrapped in gold paper? Corsets laced kindling thin. Bustles broad enough to seat a village. Shed the robe and choose an outfit. I see you in an ermine cape with velvet bloomers. A mobster’s pinstriped suit. I’ll wear a flapper dress and jiggle the fringe. The Charleston is easy. Bend your elbows into birds’ wings. Raise your hands like this
About Tina Barry…
When he stepped on his big sister’s toes at eleven, she called him klutz and ended the lessons.
When he fell on the slick gym floor at twelve, kids teased him all week.
At fourteen, at a party, he danced with a girl who seemed not too pretty to agree to dance with him. They danced once, then twice, and he was having fun – but when he asked a third time, she told him buzz off.
He forgot about dancing through the awkward teen years, danced a few times in college in the darkness of dorm parties, then got busy with important work.
But at thirty-five, desk-bound and paunchy, he danced in his room because no one was watching. He closed his eyes, and his shoulders levitated of their own accord. He tilted his chin and his head levitated, and his leg rose up on the ball of his foot. He stretched arms overhead and allowed them to sway like the tentacles of an anemone. He felt his fingers unfurl like petals.
He danced at a wedding like no one was watching: his eyes closed in bliss, his tentacle-arms swaying overhead. One woman was watching. She eased her soft body through the dancing pairs and set herself before him. She closed her eyes, swayed her arms overhead in the soft current. Her fingertips and his touched the way snails touch antennae. They touched palms. They glided forward, and their arms intertwined.
About Jon Sindell…
My fingers roll upwards and I am in a cathedral. The orchestra may be small but it fills the church with smug sobriety. The little French notes that chip away at the chords are blasphemous. They are imps, teasing the brown-skirted monks processing up the aisle. Dance with us, they giggle. There will be no dancing in this church, intone the outraged Germans. The march finishes and I am alone.
Stille Nacht, but not so still, says Sebastian. The left hand has become a ceaseless foot-fall. The right-hand air is written on the page like a single embroidered thread, led by a needle that cannot see where it is going. I know this by heart but must read the pattern anyway because I am only a servant. A voice sings of loneliness, without a breath.
But there is still trust. A column of sunlight emerges through a crack. The stitches unravel gloriously where I have stopped trudging.
Ha! A gypsy stomps into view. She poses, proudly tapping her bare foot and bullies my heart-ache away. This is no time to mope! Agreed, says another and the two of them weave a sweaty duet, prodding me to join them. I forget the monks and strut too. Even though it is the key of grand drama, my heart lightens and I know there are more dances to come.
I am a heathen but when I play Bach, I believe in God.
About Kay Shacklock…
Ariadne’s Wedding Dance
I’ve forgotten my headstrong infatuation with Theseus on Crete, forgotten my loneliness on the shores of Naxos as I watched his ship sail away. My dreams are troubled, not by his betrayal, but by my own. Half man, half bull, the Minotaur was my half-brother. I sacrificed my half-brother for a false love. May this new love prove true.
His eyes are so dark. His pull is so strong. Was this how my mother felt, captivated by the bull who fathered the Minotaur? God or man or animal, Dionysus brings chaos in his wake, stirs disorder in my breast. Can such a union be lawful? Does he love me as he says? Will our love redeem my perfidy?
Arms extended, heads thrown back, we move to rhythms older than time. I inhale the heady scent of flowers, the acrid smell of blood, savor the voluptuous taste of wine on my lips. My senses blur as the guttural chanting, the sounds of women keening, the beating of the drums grow louder. Eyes closed, I turn in place and trace the labyrinthine patterns as if I’ve always known them. Unwind the thread I gave to Theseus from around my heart, turn counterclockwise in the arms of my new lover Dionysus as we celebrate our marriage. Entranced, I sink into the darkness at the center of myself.
About Jacqueline Doyle…
The Dance of Sound on Our Skins
While brushing his teeth before bed, my husband Manny tapped the sink to get my attention then signed that he wanted to go two-stepping for his thirty-fifth birthday.
I looked, shook then flushed. I signed back from the toilet bowl, “You have never two-stepped in your life.”
Manny spat, rinsed then frowned.
Before he turned off the bedside lamp, he told me something I never knew even after seven years together.
“All the men in my family danced. To be a man, you danced. My papi was staunch about it. Being deaf was no excuse. It simply meant we had to try another way. So Papi cranked the stereo until the speakers vibrated the floorboards. I would follow his lead and feel the beat through the soles of my boots while his grip marked time in my right hand and the small of my back. The neighbours would say crazy Enrique’s teaching his Manuelito to Texas Two-Step again and then turn their TVs up louder until the very air on the block buzzed from the dance of sound on our skins.”
“You should’ve said something,” I said out loud then with gesture, ashamed that I had taken him at face value and hadn’t thought to explore deeper.
About Patrick Pink…
It was a teenage wedding
Some people have it. I’m thinking Travolta in Pulp Fiction, him and Uma Thurman when they get up and twist and everything stops. Not quite dancing, just projecting their über -coolness. Like everyone else is lesser, shadows that stare vacantly witnessing something magnificent.
Franny had it. She sashayed into the room and side-swiped her way into our booth. She wasn’t even slightly self-conscious. Didn’t miss a beat when she flicked me a look that made me feel I’d been punched. I fell hard. Zeb had picked up on it too, his face radiating like the booth seats, the leather squeaking as he wriggled around in his 501s. Sit still, Zeb, or you’ll spook her.
Franny was talking at us in a singsong sort of way – ‘affected’, you might say, but this added to her appeal. Zeb knew her from college; she was a drama student, no surprises there. They were the alien beings we watched from a distance, the sort you knew you’d never get a look in with. But she was watching me. I had a bit of an epiphany, my life flashing before me like the trains on the tube when you get down the stairs too late.
She said, “Wanna dance?”
Like I said, I’d seen Pulp Fiction and in some incredible twist of fate, yeah right, she hadn’t. And when I took her hand and we began to dance, I forgot I was nineteen and a bit of a geek and I – I had it too.
About Carrie Beckwith…
I am in the Cavern. Brick archways surround the dance floor. You can’t see a whole lot of anything beyond them: shifting shapes, the harsh light of the bar through black silhouettes.
The DJ is playing The Size of a Cow and people are jumping and jostling. Most of them are students. There’s a bunch from Media Studies and a couple of faces from Gender. My mate copped off with some bloke from Drama and they’ve disappeared through an arch.
Tourists wander around with their cameras poised, some even wearing coats. They photograph the empty stage. Leave.
I lurk in the crowd, nodding my head as if I can’t be arsed. Anyway, who cares?
I could dance alone.
But I don’t.
Come on, sad sack, this is silly.
I inch onto the floor, shuffle from foot to foot a few times and step back. Look around to see if anyone’s noticed. Others are standing on the edge, nodding to the music, sipping a bottle of beer, watching.
But I am the only girl.
The beer sees my eyes flick across the faces of boys nearby, to my feet, and to the doorway where people appear legs first, descending red concrete stairs.
I sip. I shuffle. I nod.
About Becca Joyce…
I am worn. Like weather-beaten, but not. My satin is fraying. You, a draining sycophant sidled up to the prima ballerina and knew just the things to say. Your Giselle is unmatched. That arabesque! That pas de deux with Reginald is… and here you kissed your fingertips. These were things you said. To curry favor. The prima was in with the maître de ballet. This you knew. To make up for your slightly too-wide hips. Or your ever-so-faint sway-back. Sure, you were talented. You wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Wouldn’t have crushed me beneath your pulpy toes.
The brown-nosing worked. You’re now with the American Ballet, tying other ribbons, leaning on others. I was left out on the street where a photographer walked by one day and found me beautiful, just leaning against a green dumpster, cans and papers and banana peels my new company.
I am used on greeting cards now. Have you seen them? In sepia, in what should be inspiring. If only people knew the real story. And I didn’t agree to the usage of my image. Bygones. But not.
I was just a pair of shoes. With a little knob of wood in the toe. Made of fine satin. The splinters were there to remind you. Without me, you wouldn’t be prima now. And I can see your back still arches, just a little. But you’re on pointe… just not mine.
About Jennifer Fliss…
Hard-boiled Egg Story
The egg danced in the pan.
It was Sunday. Day of rest. Day of depression. I watched as the egg did its jig, and wondered when he’d call, if he’d call. I checked my phone for the time in Indonesia; it was the middle of the night. He wouldn’t call in the middle of the night. He’d be up drinking bandrek, throwing dice in a bucket.
The egg waltzed and wobbled, a thin thread of insides leaching slowly from a hairline crack. The water was bubbling, a rocky sea. Murky, like mangrove swamp.
I turned off the hob. Eight minutes. That was the perfect number, he said, for an egg to boil hard. So the yolk was crumbly. So the white was firm, but still with some give.
I dipped my hand in the water.
I felt alive yet.
About Jonathan Cardew…
The Gringa Can Dance
People say we married too young. But when we danced it was all hands on hips and gentle sways to Mambo Kings and Besame that would turn into rhythmic steps and stomps to the congas of Tito Puente. You’d take my hand to make me twirl. Your hands didn’t need to touch my body, as I mimicked your deft feet, followed your moves to Celia Cruz. You would sweat while I purred. We vowed to name our first born after the Queen of Salsa, and we did.
The gringa can dance, they’d say. But I knew it was just a matter of finding your groove, not thinking too hard, losing myself to your allure and pull. It was all electric and fiery heat, and so who could blame this gringa fool. My feet burned inside those high-heeled shoes.
The nights ended in Tango: firm embrace, slow gliding steps and low dips, where I would lose my footing and ground. But your arms held me up, until they didn’t. And the collapse was complete and no holds barred. Maybe our marriage wouldn’t last, but baby, we sure could dance.
About Claire Ibarra…
Alex Reece Abbott
Annie always drags her up to dance.
It’s been that way ever since Lee can remember. Parties. Weddings. Christenings. Nightclubs and discos. They share a silent understanding. On any social occasion, Annie will hunt her down. Mid-conversation. Queuing for the bathroom. Ordering a drink. Regardless, Annie will grab her by the wrists. Every second song is Annie’s ‘favourite’? More than her job; it’s Annie’s birthright to propel her sister dance.
When Lee’s unsure what to do, she mirrors Annie’s moves. Annie is older,
more extroverted. More experienced…more what people call sociable.
The life and soul of the party. She is the best dancer. People watch her on the dance floor – in a good way. They clap and join in when she hams it up with her crazy version of the mashed potato. She’ll dance all night to anything, as Jim the bouzouki-playing owner of the taverna in Richmond can testify.
Eventually Annie marries a nice man who loves her very much, but he doesn’t dance,
not even on special occasions. She never stops.
It’s so typical. Oxygen-deprived, Annie finds some morphine-induced,
supernatural strength. She drags her riddled, crumbling bones from her bed,
insisting that Lee must dance one more hippy-hippy-shake with her, around the cluttered, suburban bedroom.
No one takes the lead. Annie sings, then sways, juddering and stumbling into her
sister’s arms. High and happy, she falls onto her bed, giggling.
No one says: hey, this last dance is happening fifty years too early.
The next day, she is gone.
About Alex Reece Abbott…
Outside it is quieter.
I lower myself onto a wooden bench. Its silver skin matches the concrete below. I finger the grooves. When will I see green again?
My hands just did things that were wrong.
I think back to the day I left the house – in a storm.
The wind was high-pitched against the windows and it almost unravelled me. I knew what was to come. As I dressed that morning, the belt on the bed reminded me of things I’d rather forget. My scraped knuckles stood out proud, beyond the rings that adorned them.
No rings in here.
Before I closed the door I paused, like a bird waiting for a worm to turn the soil below. I looked out towards the rock at the harbour mouth that had always reminded me of a humpback whale. In calm seas the waves soothed it.
There is no such relief for me.
In the storm that day, I heard the struggle between leaf and tree, a desperate embrace to stay attached to one another. Like her and me.
My thoughts are interrupted.
“Got a smoke, mate?”
“Sure,” I say. There’s no point saying otherwise. I’m a bottom-feeder now.
“Gets pretty noisy at mealtimes, eh?” he says to me.
“You were a legend back in the day. The way you’d dance in the ring. Man, I used to wish I was you,” he said.
I dip my head, and stand up to face him.
About Iona Winter…
The Albatross Tattoo
He took me dancing, the man with the albatross tattoo. He said that dancing with me was like walking on hot coals. I didn’t know what he meant, but I laughed anyway. We went to that place with live music every Friday night. He drank rum and coke, while I sipped on white wine. Then we danced. He was slow and graceful, the music draining through his legs, eventually reaching his feet. He said he should’ve been a bass player. That’s how he moved, driven by the deep, dark notes, out of reach.
He took me out on his boat. Once. He said he was at home there. Moving among the lines and sails as though they were part of his body, an extension of who he was. He said his boat was his soul. It’s me and the boat, he said, you can’t have one without the other. He called her ‘Betty’, though he wouldn’t tell me why. We sailed out of the harbour, tacking into the easterly. A pod of dolphins raced along right next to us, like you could almost reach overboard and touch them. He anchored next to a little bay. You could only get to it from the sea. We dived overboard and swam in the frigid water. Then he made dinner. Fish. Caught off the side. We shared a bottle of wine. Then we danced around the cabin, taking care not to knock over the hurricane lamp.
About Melanie Dixon…
Someone Has To Lead
Bart Van Goethem
Jeff was standing naked in the bathroom when Anna came in. She didn’t give him a chance to say a word – she just wrapped her arms around him, ready for an intimate tango.
“Oh, baby,” Jeff said.
Anna slid her arms slowly down his back. She stopped just above his waist, then started to caress the top of his buttocks. His breathing accelerated. Anna slipped her right hand between their two bodies and grabbed him. After massaging him gently for a minute, she moved her hand lower.
I love the holidays, Jeff thought.
Now Anna’s fingers enclosed his nutsack. For a second she didn’t do anything. She just held it, teasing, as if she needed time to plot her next move. Her grip tightened. Jeff wanted to rip off her clothes and take her right there. But Anna squeezed even more. Instinctively Jeff tried to back off, but he couldn’t. Her hand clamped him.
“Feel this?” she whispered in his ear.
He nodded, confused.
“Don’t ever forget this.”
Anna let go and left the bathroom.
About Bart Van Goethem…
Baba Yaga Pas de Deux
The shack turns on its chicken leg, creaks; the wind wails through the cracks and Baba cackles. “Hurry, my s-s-s-s-sweets, I can s-s-s-s-smell you getting nearer.”
The arthritis has been a curse and her joints a furnace for the last four hundred years. But she lives to dance and once she has filled her jar with glacial brook water, she sips, twirls, the wind partnering her inner ballerina. She dips and curtsies around the meadow, suppresses the coughs, overcomes her hip stabs as her blood boils with the melody as loud as if Waterman himself were sitting in the weeping willow, dedicating to her his fiddle plucking.
Jenicek and Marenka are traipsing and giggling side by side, far off the usual path. Their stepmother has bought them iPhones, takes him to ballet lessons and her to shooting practice. Marenka’s sharpshooter eye zeroes in on the maniac hag flitting about in the meadow, arms outstretched, humming. She did not think homeless lived this far from the city. As soon as Jenicek spies Yaga’s entrechats six, he knows her. He hums along, leaps to embrace his diva. Their fingers touch. She is light as a caress when he lifts her. In the regrounding, he ravenously bites her cheek.
About Andrew Stancek…
Mainstreaming at the Middle-School Social
The girl, folded up like an accordion, leans against the bleachers. She wears a frilly pink shirt, one you know her mother made her wear, and she sees you watching her but she stares past you, not seeing. She never really sees, and that’s what makes you curious about this girl who sits behind you in pre-calculus and mutters the answers so low only you hear. Lights strobe dizzyingly, and hundreds of kids dressed in black pulse to the dull bass pounding from the shitty sound system. The music’s in G, and you figure the girl in pink knows this, too. She hates the noise, hates the lights seizing, hates the whirling of her peers – just like you do – and like her, you’re here because your parents made you go ‘do normal things normal kids do’, but all you really want is to chill at home and stream music from Pandora. But she intrigues, this girl in pink with a blue streak in her hair, and you wonder, you hope, she’ll get you because you get her, and so you edge from the safety of your wall, your heart bamming like a timpani. She looks you up and down, checks out your red Converses and the Ramones shirt you borrowed from your older brother, and just as you come close, she turns away, it sounds like she says “screw off, retard” but her voice gets lost in the notes.
About Linda Simoni-Wastila…
She yanks at buttons, pulls my shirt off, hustles me into another. She throws me horizontal, pulls on shorts. Shorts! I hate shorts.
I loathe her – the schoolgirl.
But I love Marina – I worship her. Marina caresses as she dresses and undresses me. She smooths her olive hands down my front with the familiarity of a lover. When she zips up my fly, I want to reach down, stroke her silver hair. I would, if I could.
Marina’s for the chop – I know, because I’ve heard the school-girl gossiping with the owner. “She’s past it now, she’s bad for business.”
Treacherous little bitch.
Marina moves the merchandise. People are drawn through the door. They hum as they open their wallets. They know that music…”Cuando Juanica y Chan Chan En el mar cernian arena; Como sacudia el ‘jibe’ A Chan Chan le daba pena.”
Once, the school-girl asked Marina for translation.
“When Juanica and Chan Chan sifted sand in the sea, the way she was shaking the ‘sieve’ was driving Chan Chan mad.” The school-girl looked blank then scuffed to the sound-system. People stopped opening their wallets. Miley Cyrus – enough said.
Sometimes, when the school-girl’s left, Marina dances: salsa in stocking-feet. I fantasize about breaking through this fibreglass shell, taking her in my arms. She’d be Juanica, I’d be Chan Chan. We’d both be so happy…
Tomorrow the theme is Africa. I dread the safari suit.
About Celine Gibson…
Dancers are a hazard on city streets
I turn the corner and walk smack-bang into the swaying looping swathe of bodies. It’s got so it’s hard to avoid them these days. Instinct impels me to slip-slide-side-step out of their reach and into the path of traffic. A car swerves. A driver crudely gestures her disgust: But woman, I am not one of them.
On the far side a crowd forms – who can resist the urge to stand at the bars of Bedlam and stare?
I turn on my heel to distance myself from the dancers but they have formed a conga line at my back. The rubberneckers shake their hydra heads in unison. My hands are detached wings that flap in desperation as I sign, I’m not with them, God help me!
One after the other the gawpers turn and walk away – their steps deliberately unmeasured, their gait awkward. I stumble my feet too. I tell you, I’ve never seen them before!
But I am clasped into silence by a dancer on each side – their eyes closed in bliss and sway. Fingers grip mine tight. I struggle to escape. With crystalline movements a hand reaches, retreats and reaches again to tug the buds from my ears – thick plugs of wax and fluid stain my shoulders.
I catch a strain on the breeze, a beat in the earth. My heart corresponds – a shoulder dips, a hip sways. I too, hear the music.
About Heather McQuillan…
Sister Antonia whirled Julia around the school gymnasium.
“You’re like a clodhopper,” she shouted. “Dainty steps, girls, dainty steps!”
The senior pupils in their uniforms wilted against the walls, like pale clematis without sturdy male trellis to scramble up. The ageing nun and a scratched Chopin record was the nearest they’d get to Romance that term.
Antonia released Julia from her grip and barked at another victim. Mouse-like Sister Bernadette, trembling, poised the gramophone needle.
“No one nowadays even knows what a polka is,” Tara whispered.
“An eligible young lady must know how to dance,” the nun’s voice pirouetted past, “and stand erect…”
Jacinta Brown giggled.
“Like Father McGinty last Sunday…” I said, “Did you see him brush up against Sister Mary Therese?”
“See me in my office after luncheon,” shrieked Reverend Mother who always slid into rooms unseen, like a wet mop dragged across the floor. “You bold girl! Such insolence.”
I shuddered, excitement tingling down my spine, feeling already the caress from the strap, anticipating Reverend Mother unlocking the cupboard in a precise, formal routine, raising the crucifix to her lips before guiding The Discipline through the air to connect like a forbidden kiss on my bare skin. Her soft hand on my face afterwards to wipe away the tears, a shared prayer, and back outside into the cool, cloistered corridor.
About Jane Swan…
Dancers in the Audience
She taps the ground with her feet, listening to the rhythm even though it’s soundless. Her sneakers aren’t as loud as her tap dancing shoes.
She can see herself in the middle of the grass, rising up from the bench. The sun’s her spotlight, the shade the darkness at the edge of the stage. She’s dancing. Each step carries her through the park, through the air, each tap an echo inside of her. The heat creeps up on her, climbing up her skirt, sweat dripping from the tips of hair. She doesn’t mind, even when she’s panting. Everyone’s watching but she’s all alone up there. They don’t feel her heavy breaths, they don’t hold her shaking legs, they don’t taste her sweat.
She looks up from her feet. No one’s looking at her. Everyone passes by her dancing in her mind. She looks at each person’s feet, and sees it. The beautiful rhythm. Each step leads to the next. Some are fast like tripping on stage. Some are slow like the sweat dripping from her fingers. Each person their own beat. Each breath, each glance flowing straight to the next.
She smiles, but doesn’t stand up. She’s been on stage for too long. She’s seen how people’s gazes settle on her, then move through her like a song. Each glance a single beat that rhymes with the next. Their eyes widen and shrink. Everyone’s dancing down there.
About Austin Conner…
“Open up, Fatty.”
I clenched my teeth tighter.
“Here. I’ll fix her.” His hand clamped down hard on my nose, nostrils squeezed flat. Eyes wide, I opened the corner of my mouth to a silent stream of air. “There – go.”
Here is the handle, here is the spout. Slimy water and discoloured rose petals slid between lips and teeth to pool in my mouth. My warped face stared back from the tarnished surface of the teapot.
He grinned at the other boy, yellowed teeth guarding his tongue.
I swallowed and in a moment I knew. There were rules that could be bent and those that could be broken. My mouth opened wide and my hands reached for the teapot. Gulping and gagging the potion flowed, down my throat and face and dress.
They stepped away.
The teapot tilted higher. Liquid swept through my body cells swayed and spun, danced and distorted.
The last mouthful swallowed I wiped my face on the back of my arm and slowly stood.
“You… you’re crazy. Fat and crazy.”
A wild laugh erupted from my mouth. I stepped forward and they stepped back, edging towards the door until his hand found the handle and they were gone.
Outside the sun shone bright through the open doorway.
About Rachel Smith…
I bought you a dress today. It’s sleeveless, with a daring neckline, and sunburst sparkles dotting the hem. It shimmers in red and gold, a fine metal chain circling it at the waist and dangling on one side, the asymmetry striking.
You think you’re too skinny, that you don’t deserve it. I feel the guilt pushing you down into these sterile white sheets.
In my dreams, you sashay ahead of me on the sidewalk, bubbling with life, teasing in the glittering dress and red velvet stilettos. Your crystal earrings reflect the light from the streetlamps; your smile lights up my soul.
And then we’re in a grand baroque room, swaying to music from an unseen orchestra, dipping in the spotlight, swirling to an incandescent rhythm. With enchuflas and chasses, we move seamlessly through salsas and mambos. Unburdened, we boxstep to a foxtrot, meandering into a closed change – a waltz plays just for us. I heel turn, you lock step. Crescendo. Dosado. I steal a glance and I’m rooted to the spot. You sparkle in a million ways; I exist only for you.
Someday, when the relentless drip-drips cease, when the heart-lung machine is silent, when the weight has lifted and you run free and wild, smelling the jasmine, the sun in your hair and sand soft under your feet, then you’ll put on the dress, and we’ll dance together to Yanni’s ‘Nostalgia’. Like Fred and Ginger spinning madly.
About Shreyasi Majumdar…
Guest Editors Elizabeth Smither and James Norcliffe discuss reading and selecting stories for the issue
There wasn’t much lurching in the best of the stories submitted for this themed issue, instead there was balance, flair, and often beautifully executed dips and turns. Little evidence, either, of asymmetrical legs.
One of the pleasures of setting a theme is discovering the imaginative spin different writers can put on the prompt. Dance – as we suspected it would – offered a host of possibilities beyond the literal: the dance of life, the dance of relationships, the dance of nature, and all the rest. Of course, literal dance too, has a bewildering continuum of possibilities from classical ballet to jitterbug, from tango to ballroom. And, sure enough, we had a range of stories to choose from embracing an inventive set of these possibilities. One trap for writers, though, struck me as I read through. That is the temptation to make the dance link so cleverly esoteric that it becomes the point of the story, a kind of literary ‘Where’s Willie?’ The danger here is that without the theme and the hunt for the link, the story is somewhat pointless, and has little relevance beyond the confines of the prompt.
We are satisfied that the best of the stories, the ones we selected, sidestepped the trap and stand on their own as fine examples of the genre. We do thank and congratulate their writers and we feel privileged to hand them on to the readers of Flash Frontier. Let the dance begin!