Image: Lara Zankoul
The class had gone well. The commitment and enthusiasm of the women was infectious. The expectation of a bumper concert this year was high in their minds. Even Belinda from Bulgum, co-ordination challenged, was putting in her best efforts much to everyone’s delight.
The talk during the warm down was of the impeding crisis outside. The hills were alight, homes had been destroyed, they prayed for a wind change, that way their respective homes might be saved.
When she locked up the hall, the air was thick with smoke, she could taste it and the heat of the day was still intense.
Later that night, there came the call to evacuate. The fire was close to the town. With many others, she found shelter in the Surf Club up on the headland.
By morning, there was an eerie darkness, was this the end of times she wondered. The sun had not risen, the darkness had a red glow, and along with so many others, she huddled with neighbours waiting out the firestorm.
By afternoon the atmosphere began to clear. There was still thick smoke everywhere, they were not permitted to leave, they were urged to sit tight until the all clear was announced.
The next morning after a very restless sleep, she heard the town was gone. The main street had been razed.
There was silence as they took in what they had heard. A numbness took over from the hope they had harboured the night before.
The next day she ventured back, her studio was now a heap of rubble. Devastated, she took in what had once been the source of her passion and commitment to the town. Beside her a woman had turned up for the evening class, still full of hope.
One of the women’s husbands had a front-end loader and cleared away the debris leaving only the concrete slab the studio had stood on. The women spent the day cleaning down the slab, sweeping away the ashe finding they still had a dream and a desire to dance.
That afternoon she held her first ever open-air twilight dance class. Six of her twelve regulars turned up.
Determined to stay together,
Determined to show solidarity
Determined to show the community
Determined to defy nature’s worst.