A year ago, when I contributed to Zoe Brooks’ wonderful Magic Realism Bloghop, it was so easy to post about that literary genre in relation to my fantasy series, 1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles. But just a year later, how do I write about fantasy and wonder when the Realism of the world is so violent, dire, and contentious — not Magical by any stretch of the imagination? But stretch I must, so for starters I bifurcated my thoughts into one post pursuing this question of the current reality, which you can see here, and this post affirming Magic in our world, even in the time of Conventions, Revolutions, Hacks, Attacks, and Donald Trump. With a free story at the end!
Giving my imagination permission to stretch, I asked myself, “In what daily reality can I find magic anymore?” My own daily reality is working as a musician accompanying dancers. During the school year I work at the fabled ‘Fame’ school. Dealing with the most talented adolescents in New York City is itself a dose of reality, but no day goes by without moments of magic. Aha! Magic Realism at the High School of Performing Arts!
Following this theme, this summer, between long hours of editing 1001’s Book Three, The Qaraq and the Subversive Manuscript, I played a few classes at the Martha Graham School. Martha Graham was kind of a choreographic Magic Realist (maybe a stretch right there), combining the arcane magic of mythological characters with the shadowy realism of modern psychology. It is embedded in the technique of her movement, which was what I strove to support with music. Even in a basic dance class at the Graham School, I witnessed the Reality of the dancers struggling in a Manhattan heat wave, alongside the Magic and joy of working with Susan Kikuchi. Susan is the daughter of Yuriko, one of Martha’s first important dancers and teachers, still a legend at 96, who worked on the mesmerizing choreography of the first production of The King and I.
I have also worked at Juilliard and many other dance conservatories, so I transformed the reality of my experiences as a dance accompanist into a fantastical world within my series. My contribution to the bloghop is a free story from 1001, which merges my personal everyday reality with a magical fiction series. The Reincarnation Chronicles follows a group of intertwined souls, called a qaraq, who recall their past lives in various worlds and puzzle out their karmic history. In this world, on the planet Aklanon, the qaraq worked as performing artists in an alien arts conservatory called Draill U. In Book Two, The Qaraq and the Maya Factor, the qaraq remembers their dramas as students in a volatile class. In this tale, a generation earlier, they recall an experimental dance workshop that bred romance and vulnerability.
“The Tale of the Indaki and the Neuromistressa”
The excerpt can be found on the Stories page.
You can read this excerpt and try to decipher the alien terms for fun. Just know the tale is told in the second person, from I-zaea’s point of view, speaking to himself as “you.” But if you’d like help navigating the halls of this alien arts school and its technical vocabulary, here’s a Glossary:
Indaki — dance accompanist (I-zaea)
neuromistressa — dance teacher (Fughini, and later, beyond the excerpt, Daywa)
whakatan, whakatani — music, musicians
tarakan, tarakani — dance, dancers (Daywa)
neuroscore — musical composition
Nerve Dancing — basic Aklanonian dance technique, firing the nervous system as well as mind and muscle
whaka — arts
Pr, Do’en — Professor (Ctatlo), Dean
multiperf — interdisciplinary performing arts work
freshling, sophmorist, junieur, senieur — the 4 years of college
Heyatt uy Budoyr — Heyat and Budor, tale from the 1001 Arabian Nights
sounding holes, plectra plane — well, imagine an alien keyboard instrument, y’all