The Dancing Lights Troupe:
Twelve Celtic Winds
at the Judique Community Centre,
Judique, NS
(13 October 2004)

A dance troupe had come to town. This evening they were to play in the local community centre. The posters announcing the show had gone up silently. I saw them appear as if by magic on business doors and windows. No one I asked knew who put them there or could tell me what kind of show it was.

In a little town it's the talk beforehand that makes or breaks an event. It's word of mouth that gets people out and about. But this time, if there were questions, no one had answers, and so the questions stopped long before the event. The curiosity trail led nowhere ... certainly not to the community centre on the night of Oct. 13.

Now, I love to dance and I love to watch dancers. And the posters made it sound like this was interactive, with a chance to join in. I could hardly wait. It was the week of the Celtic Colours Festival, away back in October 2004.

I called my sister, to see if she or her little girl wanted to go with me. I thought if Amy came, I'd have a child for an excuse to join in if the opportunity came about. Or maybe it was a workshop-style thing anyway. I wasn't really sure what kind of show it was. How could I be sure it was for children? Or for adults? They didn't go. I went alone.

As did many of the other 15 or so people who attended. In our large event hall with seating for an easy 400, it was sorrowful to see so few people. But the troupe behaved stoically and performed a very magic animation of the Celtic winds of ancient understanding. As the enchantment and drama unfolded, I became acquainted with the personalities of the Twelve Celtic Winds.

With descriptions of the winds adapted from Jean Wright-Popescul's book The Twelve Winds of the Ancient World, the program guided us as we watched the dancers dressed in the colours of each wind with materials and shades designed by Kate Church with actions to portray the distinct and sometimes contradictory personalities of each type of wind. For instance, the East Buidhe of a yellow colour is wild, short-lived, a light under-wind, good-natured, difficult to control, bringing good harvest while the South South-West Glas or blue wind has creative and destructive energy, is fierce yet beautiful and blows higher than other winds.

Sarah McClure, Nancy Sherwood and Maria MacKenzie-Cann danced and swayed across the stage introducing us to the natural propensities of each wind. Michele Haddal added background percussion that spoke the temperament of each wind, while Rita Baruss added graceful flute accompaniment. But the most expressive instrument of the night was the didjeridoo played by Paul Newton. Not only did he play it, he'd made it from Nova Scotia wood. It's like a long hollow straw, made from a tree and decorated. It's about as tall as the man who held it. The instrument is of Australian origin, but it reminds me of the long horns used in the Swiss Alps as well.

After each wind had made its appearance, the troupe danced among the audience and handed us instruments of strange varieties to play and they sang and moved among us, leading the tempo and guiding the sounds. We had a wonderful time and I would quickly return to see it again.

The group, who were from mainland Nova Scotia, were inspired to come to Cape Breton during Celtic Colours because they thought many visitors would appreciate their show. And I think their type of interpretive performance of Celtic culture would be something many local people and visitors would enjoy but they have to know about it in advance.

If the Dancing Light Troupe decide to come next year, perhaps they could connect with a local group as part of the community activities during Celtic Colours and be advertised in the festival literature since most visitors arrive in Cape Breton with tickets already purchased and itinerary set. An advertisement in the local broadcaster-of-all-things- cultural, the Inverness Oran, would be a good idea, too. Let's see what next year brings.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 19 March 2005