Stand in the Middle Oct 21, 2016

by Natalie Singer

Response from Natalie Singer-Velush, OtB Writers Corps Ambassador


In the beginning I do not want it. I am afraid. The possibility of overwhelming-ness, of four-sided religiosity. The loud of it. Will they make me sing? I cannot recognize a note, shape or otherwise. I do not come from … notes. I want the dance but not the sing, I think. I think I want to sit the sing out. Song that comes from all sides, a boxing in. I saw it on YouTube, a form of music beyond me. I am afraid of the overt divine, of … facing each other. I am lonely, I text. Then time is up and I am alongside the square.


Once when I was small I got lost in a butter-colored field and ended up inside a weeping willow, its lacy braids encircling me as a curtain from the world, creating a new, separate world inside the braids. That weeping willow is in the center of this stage, hovering above, a chandelier of memory, electronic fringe of ghost and moss.



Volume goes up and how can the body not react to sound? Bodies convulse, external, internal in fits visceral, vicious but I hesitate to say violent, more of a FA FA FA FA FA SOL LA.



Bodies alone are constantly attempting to synch up, to achieve unison. Unison: (n.) a sounding together; agreement or accord. In the space as the singers call the shape notes the electric strings are strummed and the volume exalts dancer bodies to provoke, rebuff, and shift so our expectations may be quietly picked clean. Voices are disembodied and bodies given voice. Togetherness is certainly something to yearn for even as it is also resisted.



The mossy chandelier comes down. Inside the circle which is inside the square is a pair. Consider how the pair fits into the community, part of it but apart. Consider how the pair, in pale peach and skin, fits together in harmony, toe to thigh, mouth to neck, folding over, caught in the shape, in the center of the truth that flesh will soon be dust.



We go through this world mostly blindfolded, falling, spinning, caressing in intervals, holding each other’s stories like I am born in Romania and leave when I am 9 or 12 to attend the National Ballet School of Canada, where I work until my muscles tremble on the bone, where I dream up a dance and perform it even when music is lost. Song gives these lives / bodies / stories a soundtrack. A clear line stretches between vulnerability and memory. The line vibrates.



Everyone travels into a space with their own fears. The space is a square and the space is a stage. The square is nowhere you can hide. The square is a hollowing out. It is a space for YOUNG PEOPLE, COTTON, COUNSEL, SAVIOR’S VOICE, ETERNAL FORCE OF GOSPEL TRUTH. The dancers sacrifice this for us, hollow themselves out. “I feel like you’re learning a lot about space,” Zoe says. We are.