The Tale of the Indaki and the Neuromistressa (excerpt)
You said it to yourself a thrillion times, I-zaea old chawmp: you’re nothing like them. They may be great whakatani when they grow up, but these Draill U students are immature, neurotic, competitive, aggressive, unresponsive, and very, very talented. So what if you weren’t as technically gifted? In your specialized skill you had more talent than a sophmorist class. The art of the indaki. No virtuoso can accompany tarakani like you, watching movement and creating sound that’s supportive, rhythmically alive, and perfectly appropriate in quality.
Take B’narse Lima: he looked down on us indaki, but his neuroscore for the senieur tarakan concert fell flat because he was more interested in puffing out his chest than helping dancers align their bodies with the stars. Some tarakani were no better. Rashellet Kayune: the girl was so whiny, sitting out a class with the least little ache, and never finishing a phrase without breaking down and skulking across the floor. If she had let the sound release her she could have flown through the air. Sure, it’s called Nerve Dancing, but, cheena chaw, that girl was all nerve and no dancing.
Then there was Daywa. Beautiful, graceful, serene Daywa. Still, she had plenty of neurotic territory. Her specialty: punishing self-criticism. If Rashellet never finished, Daywa started over and over, stopping at the slightest error, anger subsuming her. But the movements got better and better, until your scorn at her false starts melted away when she performed the phrase immaculately, with more artistry than anyone in the school. She took your breath away three or four times each class.
Little did your skill as an indaki, your work with great artists like Daywa, or your attitude toward crazy students save you in the end. You got pulled in like all the rest, and it destroyed you. Now you can look back from beyond the grave and chuckle as you sort it out.
Like Daywa, you were drawn to Draill U because of Pr Ctatlo’s reputation: her mythic status for cross-training vocalists in movement, acting, and political orientation; the rumors that the Do’en was wrapped around her finger; her outrageous remarks infuriating the Neo-Authouritariunist Party. With her Whakatica, a poetics of the inter-disciplinary multiperf, presented in cartoon form with audio-visual enhancement, Ctatlo called on artists like Daywa and yours true to bust things up.
When you started graduate school in neuroscoring, Ctatlo’s ideas had been rebuked in traditional academic and artistic circles, and she was hell-bent on proving herself at Draill U. To work your way through school, you offered your services as an indaki to the Tarakan Dept. Given the high turnover for the lowest paying job in the arts, they grabbed you up, despite your scant experience. They stuck you in a freshling technique class where you could do the least harm. There was Daywa, in the back corner of the studio, staking out her hermitage. But she replicated every move and neuro-motor pathway as if right in front of the instructor, the venerated neuromistressa Pr Fughini.
In the next class Fughini invited Ctatlo to observe, since the radical planned an experiment with tarakani. She had worked more with singers, her vocal techniques now standard practice, so whatever she had up her sleeve was untried and daring. In class, you noticed Daywa’s nerves charging her muscles more than ever. Were you the only ones crazed by Ctatlo’s presence?
It got better: Ctatlo was interested in your music! Of course! She was the Supreme Cross-Pollinator, so the marriage of tarakan with whakatan held a fascination. After class Ctatlo asked about your experience. Something inside you chose to answer honestly: I’m as fresh as a freshling (you gestured toward Daywa). Ctatlo was delighted; she did not want an indaki set in his ways. Likewise the tarakani: she asked for volunteers, anyone willing to be open, work hard, and take risks.
The Nerve Dancing Workshop is now famous in the history of Draill U, both for its invention of extended neuro-movement and the controversial ethical debate it provoked. Ctatlo’s hypothesis: if tarakani motivated movements with pure nerve impulses, then the audience should be stimulated on a direct emotional level. Before the Workshop nerve dancing was known for tricks, like moving from lying down to leaping in a fraction of a second. To replace exhibitionism with emotional transcendence, Ctatlo needed a total commitment from performers.
Using her exegesis of the myth “Heyatt uy Budoyr” as fodder for the Workshop, Ctatlo allotted scenes from the story to small groups of participants. She believed the content of the myth was radical political action: the female Budoyr, disguised as a Prince, must bed a Princess; after facing the truth, the two women preserve the deception and live together. To convey controversial content, Ctatlo required a radical form. She wanted tarakani nerve impulses to imprint the edgy meaning on the audience’s emotions; she wanted the audience to feel a thought.
You and Daywa hung on Ctatlo’s every word, you bought into the theoretical framework, and you took on every challenge she demanded. You chose the scene in which King Apatrus offers the Princess’ hand in marriage and Budoyr in disguise fearfully considers how to respond. Daywa was to dance Budoyr’s inner monologue, running through each possible answer. Your accompaniment was the voice of the King in Budoyr’s mind, reacting to each response. For example, Budoyr imagines lying that ‘he’ already has a wife: Daywa moved as the supposed wife, with Budoyr as ‘husband’, a dance of deception. You moved your fingers casually in and out of the sounding holes: the King dismisses the problem by pointing out his multiple wives. Budoyr imagines revealing her true identity: Daywa nervously exposed her sexual identity. Barely able to contain your desire, you revealed the King’s own proposal to the feminine Budoyr with thrusting, percussive strokes on the plectra-plane. Movement and sound had to be an interwoven, intimate unity, so difficult with the multiple levels.
Ctatlo was coolly supportive of your initial efforts, but demanded much more. You were crestfallen after the first day. You wanted to process your work with Daywa over dinner, but she retreated into her reclusive world to lick her wounds. The second day of the Workshop was a week later due to Ctatlo’s busy schedule. She scolded the participants for playing it safe and using old tricks. Daywa galvanized her will in a fierce tightening of her body.
Ctatlo pushed the two of you to focus on only one of Budoyr’s thoughts, going as deep as possible. Daywa expressed Budoyr’s imagined refusal of the Princess’ hand with gracious but jittery movements; you reacted with ominous bass tremolos: the King’s rage and threats. Daywa resisted your dark sounds with demure ornamentations. Your anger at Daywa’s resistance manifest as King Apatrus’ fury. Pr Ctatlo fanned the flames of this tension by ordering you to force Budoyr to cower. On her knees, Daywa submitted with a wicked gleam in her eye, looking directly into your soul and seeing your molten fury for what it was, overflowing, frustrated lust for her exquisite body. By the end of the day you were both pools of sweat, spent and speechless.
The final session of the Nerve Dancing Workshop came a month later. During the wait, you approached Daywa many times, but her reticence stopped you. Was she remaining ‘professional’ because the Workshop was not over? Nonsense, there were teams driven into each other’s arms by Ctatlo’s emotional demands. Some participants were unhinged by the work. Was Daywa holding onto her sanity by avoiding you? Should you check on her? Console her?
What will happen between I-Zaea and Daywa? Are they headed for tears? Ecstasy? A decent review in the Times? To finish the story, I invite you to subscribe to 1001/Qaraqbooks News, occasional emails with book news, free stories, and special offers about 1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles. Thanks for reading!