The harp that wanted to dance
Inspired by the music and dance of H2B duo
erta is a normal girl.
I know you will tell me that playing the harp is not very usual, but Berta likes playing the harp so much that it is the most normal thing for Berta to play it. In fact, if you ask Berta which is her job, she will tell you that she is a harpist, which is the name for people who play the harp.
Don't think that playing the harp is easy or simple. You have to study a lot, and practice even more, to be able to play the harp as well as she does.
Berta also loves dancing, and when she was younger she also wanted to be a dancer; but one day she realized that being one was also very complicated and that she couldn't study harp and dance at the same time. She had to choose between both things, and she finally decided to play the harp.
She is now very happy and she has a lovely time playing the harp, but the little girl in her heart still loves dancing and sometimes she gets a bit sad for not being able to make her other greatest dream of her life come true.
Luckily enough, every time Berta feels sad, she begins to play the harp and all her sadness disappears. As if sadness didn't like the sweet, shy and soft sound from the harp and ran away annoyed. Be that as it may, one morning Berta was preparing herself to practice with the harp, so before anything else she began to tune the instrument. Every musical note has to be in its proper place and all strings have to sound as they must, in order for the music to be perfect. Berta was almost twenty minutes every time she tuned the harp. If you think it's too long, think that a harp has forty-seven strings which must be tuned one by one..."This one has to be tuned a bit more, this other one is okay, this one, too...good heavens, this one is completely out of tune..."
That day Berta was acting as always, and when the harp was tuned, she began to play it; but after a while she realized one of the strings was out of tune again. "How strange", she thought. She took her tuning key and tightened the string until it sounded good again.
Once everything was ok again, she played and after a moment, the string was once more out of tone.
- What is happening here? Berta said a bit annoyed.
Berta inspected once more the string, this time accurately. She thought the string might be damaged and had to be changed; but strangely enough, the string was perfect and didn't see any imperfection. She then saw a kind of thread that came out from the string...what a strange thing to happen!!
She took the thread with her fingers and began to pull and pull. The thread was coming out from the string and it was becoming longer and longer. Berta pulled and pulled until the thread broke and heard a soft cry: "Ouch!"
- Ouch? Who said ouch? Who is here?
Berta looked all around her but she didn't see anybody.
She was home alone. Could she have imagined it? She then looked at the thread she still had between her fingers, and she noticed it wasn't a thread at all, but a hair! A hair was inside the string of her harp!
The poor girl was completely taken aback and couldn't understand anything. She looked closely at the string from where the hair was coming out, and she saw a small white thing standing out. She tried to take it with her fingertips and pulled it. Berta pulled and pulled and then she saw how a long nail came out. And after the nail, the finger from the nail...and pulling and pulling, finally five fingers with a hand came out!
When she realized what was happening, she became a bit frightened, but the hand did a movement to calm her and to continue pulling. Berta wasn't very sure, but she took the hand very strongly and continued pulling. Then an arm came out, another arm, a leg and then another leg...finally there was a complete girl popping out from the thread!
This girl looked similar to Berta and she wore a white dress as Berta. She stood in front of her not saying anything.
-Who are you? Asked Berta
- My name is Béné and I'm your passion for dancing.
- My passion for dancing? What does that mean? And how have you been able to come out from such a thin thread?
- Your music has called me. I have come to teach you how to be a dancer. You have always wanted to be a dancer.
- Yes, I have always wanted to be a dancer...but all this is very strange. And you are going to teach me how to be a dancer?
- If you want, I can make you become a dancer, smiled Béné.
Berta didn't know what to think, she was still a bit frightened and she didn't completely believe what was happening. But Béné's smile convinced her that it wasn't a dream, and that everything was real.
- Okay. What shall we do, then? (Berta finally answered)
- You have to play the harp and I will dance following your music, but at the same time, your music will have to follow my dance. Do you understand?
- Not much.
- It will be as if we were talking, but without words: you will talk with your music and I will talk with my dance. I ask you dancing and you answer me playing the harp. You ask me playing the harp and I answer you dancing...is it okay?
- I find it complicated..
- You will see it is very easy...let's begin slowly and begin with simple things.
Said and done, they began to play and dance. Berta played short and simple melodies. Béné moved slowly and softly. When Berta played a high note, Béné raised her arms, and when she descended, Berta played a lower note. Little by little they understood each other and they began to communicate without using words. One was using music and the other one poetry of movement. They were a long time like this. The sun was so shiny in the sky that their white dresses even looked whiter. As the sun was moving along the sky Béné did more daring movements while Berta's music followed her, and at the same time she was encouraged to dance even more passionately.
Now the sun was so low that the sundown light made the dresses look red.
While Berta felt more confident she was also moving. Without stopping playing the harp, she moved around it following the dancer's movements at the same time.
When Béné got near a side of the harp, Berta moved towards the other side. Finally, Béné moved nearer and took Berta's hand. They separated from the harp and began to dance together. While she was dancing, Berta felt very happy. Her dream from her childhood was finally true! She continued dancing and dancing and she didn't want that dream to finish ever!
But in the end, they were so tired that they had to stop. They embraced and Berta, still sighing due to the effort, thanked Béné for such a wonderful present.
The day had gone by very quickly and the sun had already disappeared. Night was coming, and with her, darkness. The red colour from their dresses had become into a sad black. When Béné looked at her clothes and saw that black colour, she became very serious and told Berta:
- Now I have to go, I cannot stay any longer with you.
Hearing this, Berta complained.
- But you cannot go yet! You have to teach me a lot of things..we have just started! You cannot leave!
- I'm sorry Berta, but I can't. When the night arrives, I must leave you.
- This is not okay. You cannot leave me. You have told me you would make me become a real dancer, and we need more time. You cannot leave the fox to watch the geese. It is very cruel. You are a bad person and I hate you!
Berta suddenly pushed Béné and separated from her while she gave her a look full of rage and fury. She was really angry.
Béné tried to get closer to Berta, but she only went back.
Then Béné shouted:
- I am not a bad person! I have come to help you on purpose and you are paying me like this? You are the bad person. You are very ungrateful!
Béné returned her a look also full of rage and fury.
- You can leave whenever you want. I don't want to see you anymore!
- Okay then. I will leave now, and don't worry because you will never see me again. Good-bye!
As angry as Berta was, when she heard the word "good-bye" her heart broke and she began to cry.
- Please Béné, forgive me. What I have said, it is not true. You are not a bad person. You have given me the happiest day of my life.
- Forgive me too, Berta. You are neither a bad person.
- I was just so thrilled that you stayed with me forever. This is why I am so sad now.
- I am also sad having to leave. We were having a great time together, weren't we? Who knows? Maybe I can come back another day to visit you.
- Really? I would love it! We would have a lovely time and you could teach me more things to be a dancer.
- Berta...I don't have to teach you anything. You are a dancer already.
- No, no..I am not a dancer like you.
- You are not like me, but you are a dancer. Haven't you ever noticed your hands?
- My hands?
- The fingers from your hands hop from one string to another of your harp with the same elegance as a dancer on a stage. And your hands follow your fingers with the same elegance. Your hands have the gift of music, but they also have the poetry of movement. Similarly, your arms follow the movement of your hands, and your shoulders follow the movement of your arms. At the end, all your body dances with the same elegance as the best dancer. This is why you are also a dancer.
Berta was surprised. She had never thought it this way, and she immediately realised that Béné was right. She then went to Béné, she embraced her very strongly and thanked her once more. They stayed embraced in silence for a moment as trying to make the most of the little time they had left together. Finally Berta asked:
- Will you really come back one day to see me?
- Sure..you will see! And sure I will be able to stay longer.
- And what will I do while you are not here? I will miss you very much. I don't want you to go.
- You can think of all the things we can do when I come back. You will see: close your eyes.
- Okay, my eyes are closed.
- Now explain me all the things we will do together when I come back.
- We will dance and play the harp like today. It will be even more fun! We will have such a good time that we will do performances so that everybody can see us. You will see how people love it. We will be invited to dancing festivals with other dancers. And we can also go to harp music festivals and everybody will be astonished. And we will travel all around the world and be famous. They will know us even in Australia. Ah! but we will need an artistic name. We could be called the harp-dancing duet. Or the Béné-Berta duet...no wait! we will be called H2B...that's it! And then, what we will do is...
Berta stopped and opened her eyes. Béné wasn't there any more. She had gone while she was talking and talking. She had distracted her to do a less harmful farewell. Suddenly, she felt very lonely and sad. She looked at her harp, took it and began to play a sweet melody, which cheered her up a bit. Music had always this power over her.
Little by little Berta returned to her usual life. Whenever she could, she played the harp and did concerts. She loved playing for people and letting them forget their problems even if it was for a while. She didn't forget Béné and she thought of her every day, at one moment or another.
She asked herself when she was going to accomplish her promise of coming back. Would she be long? Would she be able to stay for some time? She didn't know and she wanted to see her again. She had learned to wait and make the most of life. She knew the moment would come. Meanwhile, when she played the harp, besides paying attention of the rhythm, of the notes and everything, sometimes she looked how her hands danced on the strings and she felt how all her body followed them up and down, left and right...and inside her heart she felt like a dancer dancing her own music. This made her very happy.
But as the harp is a very difficult instrument, she couldn't get distracted much in order not to confuse herself. So she always practiced at home in order not to loose her touch with the harp. One day she was at home concentrated on playing scales and arpeggios when she noticed that one of the strings was out of tune. She stopped a moment and she heard somebody crying "ouch!”. When she heard it, a big smile appeared on her face.
Written by : Joan Moret
Translated by : Angela Hunt
Picture : Berta Puigdemasa & Béné Carrat