I wrote this after my trip to Prescott, Arizona in March 2002. I had been asked by Kelly Miller-Lopez of the musical group Woodland to dance at the first Faerieworlds Festival. I don’t know if there is any archive footage of the performance, but I will always remember every detail in my heart. I can see Thumb Butte where I finished my choreography the day of the performance. I can hear the laughter of the children of all ages. I can feel the smooth stage under my bare feet. I can taste the salt as I perspired in the heat of the day & stage lights at night, trying hard to convey Grace. I smell the damp earth when I returned to Thumb Butte, to give thanks for the Dance. Another journey, another time, all part of the path.
Between Earth and Aerie: A Night in the Land of Faerie
by Kerrie A. Colantonio
Twilight, that most magical of times, settled into the corners of the old opera house. Long before the midnight hour, when the wee-ones can still catch their own glimpses of the faerie kingdom, clowns took to the stage, and reminded us what laughter feels like, sounds like, is. Before all of the humans could take their seats, they stole our adult worries and left us with joy. J. M. Barrie wrote, “When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” So too, following the clowns of Living Folklore, the faeries came. Natural History brought us deep into the underworld, driving us down further with each beat, into the darkness. We followed the candle-light of Terri Windling’s words, guiding us to the heart of the wood, dark and bright, ancient and new. Lady Mathers welcomed us to that heart, parted the veil, and the dancing began. Slowly, led by the music of Woodland, the creatures of the realm crept from their hovels and holes, leaves and ledges, rocks and ruts, shells and shrines. They began to dance, to live.
When I was asked by Woodland if I would dance at the Faerieworld’s Festival, I was a bit nervous, as if asked to join the faery host in their feasting and celebrating. Traveling from Winchester, MA (near Boston) to Prescott, AZ was indeed a step into a different world. From the moment Giggly Sprout and Gumbo Wobbly opened the festivities until the lights went down, it was an experience to remember.
Hearing Terri recite “An Invocation” made it all the more real, drawing my thoughts into a deeply rooted home, welcoming, warming, returning to the side of a friend by the hearth, by the heart. Her words grounded me, held me in place when the faeries began to rise and alight. Placing me in that sanctuary of language between Dartmoor and Arizona, between Earth and Faerie, I continued the experiential journey into the night.
Never have I seen so many children and adults with wings so gossamer, and hearts even lighter, gathering to share their love of all things fae. I was informed that there would be dancers by the front of the stage. I did not expect to have faeries of all ages to blanket the floor between my front row seat and the stage. Children paraded practically across my lap, exploring from the doorway to the far reaches of the theatre. Full-grown faeries, goblins, elves and all others moved with the music in the air and in their souls.
When it was my turn to take the stage, the crowds parted. Following the music of Woodland, I danced from the far-reaches of my own heart. Gliding on the light, I floated across the stage, my arms, legs, hair, all knowing the way, the movements, the path, chosen by them, by the mountains, not by me. After several weeks and several versions, the dance emerged, simple and true. It was not me, not Kerrie, dancing on that stage, but an essence of light and joy. A journey that began on the Internet was finally brought into existence; I was changed.
With some simple talk, I met many new friends and finally placed faces and voices with the names and words of old friends. (For what is a book, a poem, a word, if not one we can be ourselves with?)
With a simple step, I discovered my dance, my path.
Finding my essence where I did not think to look, I returned from the dream to New England’s chill night, a bit older, a bit different, a bit more me. I have a different view of rap music, a new appreciation for clowns, and a welcome place in my heart for all things fae.