the wee people underneath the floor

I took a dance workshop, years and years ago - like double decades - with one of my favorite solo dance artists at the time.

The room was packed. We all stood expectantly, nervous and excited to learn from her.

As we waited for her to arrive, we shifted our weight, stretched our arms over our heads, and kicked our legs to get ready for what promised to be a big moving and extraordinary dance experience.

As we waited, we practiced moving our bodies in the way we had seen her move her body -- we couldn't wait to get dancing with her.

When she did arrive, she came in so quietly that some didn’t see her for a minute or two.

She was wearing her standard: blue tutu skirt, flounced out far, striped tights, a button down shirt with a tie, and big black combat boots. Many dancers were in similar outfits, hoping to be as fierce and wild as she.

We expected that kind of boldness from her -- she had come to be known for it.

What we didn't expect was, that without a word, she knelt down, pressed her ear to the floor, knocked knocked, and said, “Hello?”

No one moved or made a sound.

She did it again - knock knock - “Hello?”

She gestured for us to join her, down on the floor.

“Come quick, before they go. Knock, and then call out quietly. Let’s see if they come.”

We looked at each other - what the hell?

This wasn't dancing.

We knelt though, we knocked, we said, “Hello?”.


We waited.

Then she whispered, “Ah, here they are! The tiny little family underneath the floor! Listen now, carefully, to what they are saying."

It was weird and wonderful.

We stayed that way for the entirety of the dance class - ears pressed against the floor, whispering, talking, making gibberish sounds, in hopes of making contact with the tiny little family below.

The next day, most had dropped out but a few of us stayed, and every day for a week, we knelt, put our ears to the floor, knocked, and called out “hello?".

I swear to god that by the end that week I could hear their tiny feet scurrying to find our voices, eager to have a conversation.

I’m on the ferry to Wales as I write this, just having finished my first residency at Greywood Arts in County Cork, Ireland.

The tiny little family was there, at Greywood with me, right beneath the floorboards.

Their whispered words that made no sense found their way into my body and nestled in to rest.

I danced each day in the attic of a building that was built in 1767.

When I’d dance, I'd hear little crashes from time to time.

I'd look and see that part of the wall had fallen down.

Little bits of the house, all around, falling as I was falling, landing as I was landing.

I loved that, the crashes, the falling then landing.

Kept both me and the tiny little family alive and true in our work together.

While at Greywood, I danced, rested, wrote, doodled in my notebook, walked in the woods, made good food, and had lovely conversations with interesting and engaged people, of regular size.

Leaving Greywood has been hard, as I'd like to stay and talk more, with both the regular sized people I met there, and the tiny little ones too, who live underneath.

I wonder...what sort of regular sized people will I meet next, and I wonder -- will the tiny little family follow me to Wales?

I think they might.

I hope they do.