Let's see what an official report would look like:
Item #: … Should they become a number?
Object Class: … Very Beautiful.
Special Containment Procedures: Should they be contained?
Context: as a field agent, I travel a lot. When I have time, I go places where people dance, because I've always loved dancing. And I note down as much as possible in my travel diary, to reminisce afterwards.
France, Strasbourg, night-club 'Le Chalet', June 15th, 2006
I'd been having fun for a while when this guy invited me for a waltz.
Best waltz ever. Perfect all the way: clockwise, counterclockwise, whirl, stop, start, fast, slow. I felt like the Queen of the Night.
The guy never spoke to me - but then we were too busy being good.
He was much taller than me, so I didn't have a good look at his face. I only remember he was serious, focused. Dressed in black. Black hair.
Some time later, the DJ played a set of rock 'n rolls. After dancing one with a not-so-competent partner and fuming about it, I was sitting another out; I spotted my waltz champion and rushed to invite him. He said nothing, didn't smile, just followed me.
Total disaster. I'm good at rock and so was he - but there are about as many styles of dancing it as there are dancers; our styles were simply incompatible.
I kept apologizing. He said nothing. Looked more and more pissed off. Left before the song ended and disappeared.
Was torn between 'How rude!' and 'Yeah, feel that way too.'
Back at the hotel, I noted down everything (with a lot of swearwords: I hate it when I fail to adapt to a new partner!) and mostly forgot about it.
UK, London, Royal Opera House, April 2nd, 2009
Tchaikovski's Swan Lake, Royal Ballet
Excellent seat: stalls, front, centre, 2nd row. A treat to myself for my 40th birthday.
Magnificent performance… especially the Dance of the Little Swans, the famous Pas de Quatre.
They were really little: they looked about 12 years old. When they appeared at the back of the stage, there was a wave of surprise through the audience, but the other dancers didn't flinch.
The four dancers looked exactly alike, like true quadruplets: black hair, same face, same silhouette, same height. They all had a beauty mark on the forehead, very much like the Hindu 'Third Eye'.
They moved as one. Their head movements were impossibly identical, to the millimetre and split second.
Standing ovation for 3 minutes and 14 seconds. I timed it. The four curtsied like any performer during applause (their movements were exactly synchronized), then disappeared and weren't seen for the rest of the show.
I wanted to enjoy the whole of my treat, so I put my thoughts on the back burner until the end. But my, that was one busy back burner!
The guy in Le Chalet also had a beauty mark. When he invited me, and when I invited him later, I felt like he was peering at me with 'more than eyes' (as noted in my diary: I checked later).
Black hair - yeah well, many people have black hair.
But why/how male to female, adult to child, social dancer to classical ballet, one to four? Was it one or a group?
Nah. Must be dreaming. Or deluded? Perhaps the beauty mark was a false memory.
I checked the newspaper reports of the performance: they did point out the Pas de Quatre was exceptionally good and successful, but no detail. One report did however mention, in a pleasant aside, that the professional crew hired for filming the event suffered malfunctions in all their cameras. Nothing on the Royal Opera House website about genius quadruplet young dancers.
Yes, I did consider telling the Foundation. This was rather anomalous… But in the end, I decided not to: no certainty, no proofs, perhaps deluded… Furthermore, I didn't want sheer talent to end up contained.
Egypt, Cairo, one of the restaurants in the Marriott Hotel, December 9th, 2010
Not alone this time: with four colleagues, three men and a woman. We'd just helped solve a nasty local containment breach and decided to treat ourselves to a good dinner; at my suggestion, we picked a restaurant with a belly-dancing performance.
Food: excellent. Atmosphere: great.
Just before the show one of the musicians asked the public not to take pictures nor film it. The waiters saw to it.
Belly-dancer: black hair, black-and-gold outfit. Beauty mark.
The best performance I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. I love belly-dancing, practised it for a long time, and am fairly knowledgeable about it. Many belly-dancers content themselves with simple moves and shimmies - trusting their half-naked bodies, shiny outfits, and the seductive aura of the dance to do the rest. Not this one: varied, inventive choreography. She moved like water - like the epitome of Woman, Grace, Pride, Sensuality… I could go on forever!
During the performance she wore a small, secret smile, but her face was … frozen?
Mid-height, a voluptuous body. Not like the Chalet dancer, who was tall and thin. Not like the 12-year-old swans. But… something in common, not only the beauty mark.
My colleagues were enchanted, clapped and whistled, gushed about her for the rest of the dinner. I didn't say much.
What. The. Hell.
Back to one person. Or was it a family: Daddy for waltz, Mommy for belly-dancing, daughters for ballet? Somehow it didn't feel right - too normal. And what were the odds of meeting them in Strasbourg, London, Cairo: were they following me? No, that was silly: I travel all the time, but I don't meet them every time. Was I deluded? Paranoid? Perhaps the guy in Le Chalet and the belly-dancer were just good… Perhaps I had imagined those perfect little swans…
YouTube, last night
Yes, I've just spent years wondering about this, and finally decided to brace up and think. And make up my mind: should I inform the Foundation? I'd rather not… Who would want to lock up Gene Kelly, Michael Jackson, Rudolf Nureyev? But it's been nagging me all this time, so yesterday I sat down at my personal computer at home and got to work.
I searched the Net with all the keywords I could think of: Royal Ballet, Le Chalet (sadly, it closed in 2010), (social) dancing, beauty marks…
Time spent: about four hours (am I going mad?). Result: nothing.
I searched video websites for 'best dancer(s) ever' and assorted keywords. This resulted in quite a few videos of four-year-olds at their first ballet classes; many reality-show candidates, best or not; a lot of crap…
Time spent: about six hours (yes. I must be mad). Result: ONE.
Cellphone video of a street show in Brazil. Uploaded on YouTube in February 2008 under the (English) title hidden dragon. Okay, when you search these keywords you get over 900,000 results, mostly about the films, but… the video displayed only 21 viewings, over nine years.
The author of the video only gave the date of the recording: the day before uploading, during the Carnival. No location given. Comments deactivated. No other video from the author (is it important?).
The video was shot covertly, and insolently filmed many signs informing the public, in several languages, that PICTURES AND VIDEOS ARE FORBIDDEN. Consequently, neither sound nor image are good quality. But you can still see two male dancers dressed in black, at least six assistants (male and female? Hard to tell) dressed in white, all with black hair, similar faces and a beauty mark.
The show is advertised as a "reenactment of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". It also features some Matrix- and capoeira-like moves. The assistants watch the show, mingle with the crowd to check for cameras. They don't speak - only communicate with gestures, sometimes rather brusque. They occasionally join the dancers in their performance; whenever they do, the only difference is the colour of their clothes - the quality of the dancing is the same: inhuman. And they all look mighty competent with swords, sabers and violence.
The guy in Le Chalet:
- The feel of his hands/body was pretty normal.
- He was excellent at leading waltz: clear signals from his hands to my body.
- In rock: his hand signals were also surprisingly clear, given that you normally have to get used to a partner in order to decipher the signs in the split second between one move and the next. However, his signals were often not followable (e.g.: we were already at two arms' length from each other, and he signalled to 'push' me further away - not possible, I would have 1) lost balance and/or 2) crashed into other dancers behind me).
The four little swans:
- It is simply not possible to achieve such identical moves. Especially the head moves: they are varied (up/down/up, straight left/right/left, left/down/right/down/left…) and often illogical (e.g. the dancers look right when they are moving left). Even top dancers from top ballet companies cannot synchronize them exactly: I checked videos of Royal Ballet, Opéra de Paris, Bolshoi, Mariinski and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
- They moved as one when needed, but also when they shouldn't, like the salute at the end of the Pas de Quatre.
- NO ballet company chooses children to perform this part; the choreography is highly technical and requires experienced dancers. What happened to the four girls who were chosen and rehearsed with the others?
- No reaction from the public after the 'wave of surprise' (did I imagine this?): the standing ovation concerned the quality of the performance - I never heard anyone around me ask 'how can they be so young?'.
- Did THEY manually sabotage the cameras, or are THEY able to somehow… influence equipment from afar? Why did the crew not realize something was amiss and repair it?
- How can such excellent dancers appear on a show, disappear after they do their piece, and never be mentioned again anywhere?
- Pictures and filming forbidden. The waiters confiscated a few cameras politely, but firmly.
- Incidentally: why forbid pictures and films? Unlike the other public performances I saw, this one was exceptionally good, but not anomalous!
The show in Brazil:
- Crouching Tiger and Matrix, including impossible leaps and moves, without wires and CGI.
- Incidentally: how nasty can THEY be? How dangerous can THEY get? Ergo, how contained should THEY be?)
- Pictures and filming forbidden. The assistants confiscated a few cameras firmly, but not politely.
- One video online for nine years, and only 21 viewings. If THEY found it, why did THEY not erase the video? Why/how no description given, no comments allowed? Who gave the video such a casual title? What happened to the author? Or… did THEY plant the video themselves? Why? …Or maybe I'm getting distinctly paranoid here!
- Is the quality of their dancing due to anomalous talents, or just passion and hard work like for everyone else? Or both?
- Who are THEY? Fanatical worshippers of Terpsichore, muse of Dance? Just dance lovers who somehow got together to raise the quality of dancing worldwide? Are they human? Were they humans at one point, did they morph into… something else, by dint of hard work and… what?
- How do they find each other? How do they recruit new members? How do they end up looking similar or identical?
- Third-Eye marks have various meanings, including creation, unity, concentration, concealed wisdom, hospitality, victory… How significant is it for them?
- Why do they perform in public but refuse any recording? Not logical!
Damn. Every question raises others instead of bringing answers. Why? Why is it not possible to think clearly about them?
But still able to think.
- If they are a closely-knit group, what was the guy doing in Le Chalet, on his own? Why did he react so harshly to my failure?
- Was he trying to recruit me?
- Is this why I can remember and think about them?
I need the Foundation to find THEM. Not contain - just find.
It will most likely take some time, so I've just arranged an appointment with my Site Director for this afternoon; in the meantime, I need to change this 'report'.
The Foundation taught me to fight - I'm good at it. But I have to take up dancing again. At 47, I cannot start ballet; but I can work on as many styles of dancing as I can, and strive for excellence.