Aboriginals and Authenticity
Twentyeight years ago, a group of Aboriginal Australians visited Washington.
This was their first travel away from the Outback. They hadn't even seen
Sidney. Several of them wandered off and were lost for a while but got
back in time to dance on the Ellipse. The sunset that day glowed like
a huge campfire as the 17 or so figures, short and squat enough to look
like a distinct species of humanity, gathered into a knot in which each
individual visibly began to concentrate. It was a mental act this first
step of the dance that was meant as a gift to us, their hosts. From thought
arose movement that was sparse. Nothing was wasted, every shift proved
to be necessary. Yet within such economy it seemed there was unlimited
possibility. The seed of every dance ever trod was contained in those
dry, dense motions. The sky was still burning when the visitors stopped.
Their appearance became casual again, and a bus took them off to dinner.
Their audience dispersed, harboring a sense of wonder. To me it felt as
if we now knew the entire history of dance, past and future.
2, No. 42