Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writers on Belly Dance: Simone de Beauvoir (3)

In the previous post, a Spanish dancer performs for Francoise (Simone de Beauvoir character), Pierre (Sarte), and Xaviere, a younger woman mired in angst:
"Francoise could not help taking a surreptitious glance at Xaviere: she gave a start of amazement.  Xaviere was no longer watching, her head was lowered.  in her right hand, she held a half-smoked cigarette, which she was slowly moving toward her left hand.  Francoise barely suppressed a scream.  The girl was pressing the lighted end against her skin, a bitter smile curling her lips.  It was an intimate, solitary smile, like that of a half-wit; the voluptuous, tortured smile of a woman possessed of some secret pleasure.  The sight of it was almost unbearable, it concealed something horrible.

"The dancer had finished her repertoire and was bowing amid applause.  Paula had turned toward the table, and now gazed speechlessly with questioning eyes.  Pierre had noticed Xaviere's performance some time before.  Since no one thought fit to speak, Francoise held her tongue; an yet what was going on was intolerable.  With her lips rounded coquettishly, Xaviere was gently blowing on the burnt skin which covered her wound.  When she had blown away this little protective layer, she once more pressed the glowing end of her cigarette against the open wound.  Francoise flinched. It was not only her flesh that rose up in revolt, but she felt herself attacked in a more profound and irreparable way, and to the very center of her being.  Behind that maniacal grin, was a danger more positive than any she had ever imagined.  Something was there that hungrily hugged itself, that unquestionably existed for its own sake."

From Chapter 4 of "She Came to Stay."

Dancing unveils the self.  In the previous post, the dancer enacts the anguish of relationships and self pity, which overcomes Xaviere in this scene.  The body, beauty, and the ephemeral qualities of dance and theater all conflict Francoise and Pierre, who are anxious and overwhelmed by the smallness of their art in the face of war.  Enough of the soapbox.  I loved reading these descriptions of dancers that had such consideration for the larger ideas the individual body can represent.