“There are hundreds of dancers in front of him. Behind him. To the left and right. He’s surrounded by the variegation of color and pattern specific to Indianness, gradients from one color to the next, geometrically sequenced sequined shapes on shiny and leathered fabrics, the quill, bead, ribbon, plume, feathers from magpies, hawks, crows, eagles. There are crowns and gourds and bells and drumsticks, metal cones, sticked and arrowed flickers, shag anklets, and hairpipe bandoliers, barrettes and bracelets, and bustles that fan out in perfect circles. He watches people point out each other’s regalia. He is an old station wagon at a car show. He is a fraud. He tries to shake off the feeling of feeling like a fraud. He can’t allow himself to feel like a fraud because then he’ll probably act like one. To get to that feeling, to get to that prayer, you have to trick yourself out of thinking altogether. Out of acting. Out of everything. To dance as if time only mattered insofar as you could keep a beat to it, in order to dance in such a way that time itself discontinued, disappeared, ran out, or into the feeling of nothingness under your feet when you jumped, when you dipped your shoulders like you were trying to dodge the very air you were suspended in, your feathers a flutter of echoes centuries old, your whole being a kind of flight. To perform and win you have to dance true.”
Tommy Orange, There There

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