So, as a preface, I should mention that this is a fanfiction. For a wonderful movie but, my third time seeing it, I couldn’t help but think what would happen if a little realism got injected into Tangled. And then I drew a parallel from Rapunzel to Winnifred Burkle, and the whole thing just clicked in my mind. (I wanted to do this as a comic, but I’ve got so much original stuff I should do that I had to scrap it.)
A knock on the door. A pause. And then again. And then twice in succession. And then a voice.
“Rapunzel?” She didn’t even move her gaze from the window. “Rapunzel, are you in there?” She made no move towards the door, or no effort to call out. “Rapunzel, I’m coming in.” The door creaked open and Eugene entered, slowly. Immediately, he saw her, sitting on her window sill and staring out into the kingdom, her hands gripping the ends of her short brown hair.
It had been only a week and a half, barely ten days, since she shut herself up here. At first she wouldn’t even unlock the door for food, eating whatever she had stashed away in her room. He would knock on her door for hours for the first three days, and she would not answer. It wasn’t until the fifth day that she opened the door just a crack and requested some paints, and some more food. When she opened it again to accept everything, he had tried to push his way into the room, but the reaction was… unfavorable.
After that he didn’t push it for a while. He would just knock, several times each day, and bring her food. Today, though. Today she didn’t make a sound, she didn’t protest to him saying he’s coming in, and she didn’t push him out when he did. She just sat there, staring out her window. He took a few more steps inside, Pascal gripping to the fabric on his shoulder as they entered the room for the first time in ten days. “Rapunzel?” he said, almost like a whisper.
It seemed to start at the ceiling – though how she got up there he couldn’t figure out. The very top had, in bright golden paint, the kingdom flag adorning the domed ceiling. Out of it in purple spun more rays but they reminded him more of an octopus than a sun. It seemed as if it was about to engulf the whole room, stretch just a little farther and ensnare people while they were asleep.
“Soooo… redecorating?” he asked with an unsure smile. He was slowly inching closer to her, all the while noting how the paint etched from the ceiling and covered every inch of wall space in her room. He was certain that the bathroom had received the same treatment. The entire eastern wall was covered with a painting of her old tower. Directly across from it was the kingdom, half in day, half in night, lanterns flying around it. Even her bed curtains had paint stains on them, coloring the white fabric a violent splash of green and yellow.
The door echoed shut in the painted room, and she turned her head sharply at the sound. Eugene was caught, for a moment, before putting a hand behind his head and staring at his shoes, smiling uncomfortably. He looked up at her, eyebrows raised, all charm and hopeful, and found out she had gone back to staring out the window. Immediately he stood up straight and frowned at the ineffectiveness of his approach. Usually she at least laughed at that. Usually the laughing ended in a kiss.
But now she just stared outside the window.
“You know what I did, right?” she said, barely a whisper. Immediately Eugene took a few steps closer to her, trying to see out the window at whatever she was looking at. But her eyes were closed, her head leaning against the sill and her face looked so… tired.
Slowly, Eugene shook his head as he inched himself close enough to lay a hand on her shoulder. He stopped, however, and let his hand rest on the wall, covering up part of a golden river painted along the nook Rapunzel was sitting in. He glanced at it again, briefly. Maybe it was hair.
She never opened her eyes as she continued. “I ran away again.” She smiled, but it was the ironic smile that looked so foreign on her face. “Only this time, I ran to a tower. I built one around myself just like I had before, and I set a trap for you to come in and show me what the world can be.” She finally looked around the room and whispered, tired, reluctant, and disappointed. “I can’t believe I did this.”
He dragged his fingers over the golden painting, transferring his touch to her shoulder and guiding his hand gently down towards her elbow. But he barely touched her before she cowered away from him, moving closer to the window in the process. “Whoa, whoa, ok, so, not ready to move yet,” he said, putting his hands up in an effort to try and calm her down.
“Do you promise?” she asked.
“What?” he said, slowly lowering his arms.
“Do you promise that you’ll show me a new world out there?”
He hated his answer, he hated the tone of her voice. And after a moment of looking at her, after walking through the tomb she recreated for herself, he wished it could be anything but. “No,” he said slowly. “But I can show you all the good things about the old one.”
She glanced out the window again. “What about the rest?”
This time he took her hand and she didn’t resist. She allowed herself to be pulled away from the window and into his arms, burying her face into his chest. He rested his chin on her hair, holding the frail, thin girl tightly. “The rest, I’ll be here for. And I’ll help you through it.” He slowly turned her shoulders away from him, finding her face and smiling at it warmly. “That, I promise.”
She smiled faintly, instantly seeming much more like herself.
“And hey. When I make a promise, I never, ever break it. Ever.” He grinned at her small chuckle. There she was. There was Rapunzel again, after ten days of hiding.
That was the first time she did this. It got easier, slowly, and she stopped painting every inch of the walls. She stopped staring out windows for days. She stopped locking the door. With every time, it got a little bit easier to bring her back. And every time, she waited, silent, for her guide.
Once again I am replacing my (usual) updates with a wall of text. Hopefully you’ll find some interesting content or, at the very least, a smidgen of humor :)
I feel I should preface this with a disclaimer: I have not been dancing very long. A year and a half or so, and at least 4 months of that was spent almost exclusively on learning WCS, and then promptly never dancing it again. I started at my university swing club in NJ, then branched off to occasional visits to LaB in Philly and Frim Fram in NYC. Nowadays I swing in Knoxville, TN, and though the focus of the scene is primarily lindy (and I do so miss my blues fix) I’m quite enjoying it. I’ve so far attended only one full workshop - Southern Belle Swing Bash 2010 - and have been reaping the benefits of that follow-focused weekend wonderfulness since August.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this entry in the first place is a combination of my internet stalking of various swing dance blogs over the last few days and, more importantly, my return to NJ over the holiday season. The last week I was there (the one week without snow getting in the way of everything), I not only went to LaB (which made me remember how much I love the Philly scene and dancing blues!) but I also went to the Saturday night dance at LaBLove!
First of all, I love coming back to a scene I used to be big in. It’s one of the best ways to really realize I’ve gotten better, and every comment to that effect feeds my dancer ego (in a good way). And secondly, I just love LaB. I satisfied as much of my blues fix as I possibly can, and got to dance with some truly phenomenal people where I really felt my improvement over the last half year in the lack of awkwardness on my part.
One thing that I noticed early on was that my blues has gotten better despite Knox’s extreme focus on lindy. Of course, it’s to be expected as my connection and momentum have gotten better as well, but it was nice to know that the first swing dance style I learned hasn’t gotten rusty. To build upon that, I’m definitely still learning new things in my intermediate classes, but focusing on following so exclusively has seriously deteriorated my ability to lead - not that it was more than simple things to begin with, but I feel learning both sides will only help my connection and understanding of what my partner needs.
I still feel uneasy with “light” leads. In my internet lurking, I came across more than one spot that addressed the need, as a follow, to adjust to what your lead is asking with ease. I guess this is a bit of a goal-setting entry because I’m going to make a real effort to improve that aspect of my dancing until I feel more comfortable knowing how much counterweight I should be giving. I’ve also been working on my momentum, remembering my posture and keeping my shoulders instead of my arm engaged. And, of course, I’ve been working on ways to add variations to my social dancing, though I admit I chicken out more often than I’d like.
I feel like all of these (except perhaps the last one) will be greatly helped by me reprising my role as a lead. At the very least it would certainly improve my connection and communication with my partner as a follow. And, even though I’m always caught trying to think too much when I lead, I do occasionally have a good idea or two for leading something fun. Here’s hoping I find the confidence to inspire my follow to go with me.
The blogs and sites I’ve come across recently all talk about what makes a good follow good, or amazing, or advanced or what-have-you. There’s also quite a lot of blogs dealing with the language associated with follows in lessons. While getting compared to an inanimate object more than once in a hour can get slightly annoying, I honestly don’t think much of it. It is an artifact of older times and values, and I would not mind it changing, but I won’t be jumping down the throats of leads when they use analogies or objectify the follow as the “sexy” one. I guess a lot of my more laid-back attitude comes from my boyfriend and his best friend, who tend to dance together at least once during every social dance and also continuously switch between being the follow and the lead. And when they embody either aspect of the dance, they really go all out. (I still say that my boyfriend can shake his hips better than I can, haha.) So in that sense, I can still see the follow being the more showcased role, if you will, so the two never really had a gender connotation in mind. So you can see how I simply don’t assume that the terminology is degrading to women specifically, or to follows in general. The dance is a conversation, and if it falls on one person to be more flowery in their speech than the other, then I see no problem (especially since I tend to be the flowery one in regular conversations too). Most leads I dance with also add their own variations and tend to be receptive when I want to do something they weren’t planning on (hopefully avoiding actual hijacking in the negative sense and keeping the conversation going normally. No one likes a shouter). I guess I’ve been spoiled, and while I see the point of needing to get rid of passive following or the way we address following in how we teach lindy, language-wise, I have not really had much experience where it bothered me. (Again, multiple times referring to me as a chair/tennis ball/wagon will get annoying to anyone…)
To end, I’ve got a question for you leaders out there: what would you say is the hardest part about leading? Easiest? Do you feel that learning to follow has helped your leading technique in ways you otherwise might have missed out on?
Ah, unfortunately, I'll be stuck in the city this weekend and won't be able to make it out to LaB. I'm planning on making it to the general area sometime in the future, though, possibly for Philly Lindy Love.
Unfortunately, I live in TN and PLL is a bit too much of a commute for me. So maybe we’ll meet at another exchange this year sometime :)
(Also, sorry this is late, tumblr would not let me post it for a few days for whatever weird reason.)
“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.”—Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett.