DAUGHTERS OF THE DANCE started out over a decade ago as a screenplay, but it became problematic when submissions for consideration required that a screenplay be reduced to less than two hours to film. Since it is a historical novel covering three generations of two families—mother-daughter-granddaughter and three high-powered brothers from Willemstad, Curaçao, the task became daunting. So, although the screenplay was completed to x-number pages and later shelved by me, I copyrighted it. However, the same friend who told me to write the screenplay later told me to convert the story into another format. Thankful for the time-lapse in converting the screenplay into a novel, I gained access to historical information that did not exist earlier on the worldwide web, making the endeavor flow beautifully. The final draft took almost a year to complete. Within two months, three publishers approached me; and I selected Page Publishing of New York because they were the most transparent and were not a hard sell.
As a historical novel, it afforded me the opportunity not only to develop fully the early protagonists but also to introduce new characters to enrich the diverse and rich Dutch cultural tapestry of the Sephardic-Ladino community of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, but also of the Netherlands, Panama, and Spain.
“Engaging & exquisite….Do not let the title of the book, Daughters of the Dance, fool you. With a focus on the Sephardic-Ladino community of Curaçao and the menace of the Spanish Civil and world wars as backdrop, the book becomes epic-like in scope yet never loses its intimacy”. TVA, Botanist Ph.D.
Unraveling the Narrative
Dealing unabashedly with classical adult and controversial themes, the plot and characters cleverly tempt the reader to connect the idea and symbolism of what and who these “daughters of the dance” are. The men are high-powered, driven by oil, wealth, trade, religious beliefs, and their views on female submissiveness and sexual boundaries. They face uncertain survival amid three wars in continental Europe during the first half of the 20th century and the inevitable expansion of these wars to the Netherlands Antilles and to the Western Hemisphere, especially affecting the Sephardic-Ladino community of Curaçao. The Third Reich’s far-reaching pogrom in Spain and in the Netherlands, the theology of sexuality, the suppression of wise women and of the secular intelligentsia due to conservative religious fervor, including botanical lore, also ring true in the novel.
So who are the “daughters of the dance”?
On the surface, uprooted from Algeria, the matriarch Dara is transplanted to the New World, bringing her sensuous dancing skills at a time when the danse du ventre became a marvel to behold but was not without its scandals in Europe during World War II. This was when the Dutch Mata Hari was not the only “spy” who danced exotica.
And, the women in the novel do dance!
At the turn of the 20th century, Andrei Lindo of Willemstad, Curaçao, meets the enchantress Dara in Colon, Panama, at an elite soiree in celebration of the Panama Canal becoming operationally a treasure trove. It was love at first sight soon to become a forbidden affaire de cœur. Two other such affairs emerge within the pages of the novel.
Metaphorically speaking, the reason the “daughters of dance” survives in the reader’s consciousness is that the archetype typifies the eternal quest to feel free in one’s own skin. In the words of the Persian poet Rumi, “Dance when you are perfectly free and enjoy each step along the way.” One could ask, “Why is it that this method of exploring to experience self-liberation from fear is forbidden, verboten?”
Last of all, this historical novel of romance—DAUGHTERS OF THE DANCE—is a dare.
The underpinning thread in the novel is its use of unapologetic sexuality. The author deceptively flaunts the literal and symbolic aspects of sexuality in counterpoint to bring awareness to the differences between carnal and spiritual sex. The various dualistic expressions can be due to aberrant aversion or addictive desire that obstruct breaking the chain of rebirth. Historically, woman is blamed for the fall of mankind, when, in fact, “the tree of life and its fruit” personifies wisdom—and mankind’s lack thereof by seeking it outwardly instead of inwardly.
Written in transcendental style, the novel foreshadows an ultimate mystery of temporal death.
According to wisdom literature, the final chance to break the chain of rebirth, while in the last Bardo of existence between death and rebirth (a Tibetan Buddhist concept), is to visualize one-pointedly the sexual union of the yin/yang (female/male) deities that help set humans free. The answer to what is that last chance is provided in the “Afterword.” The foreshadowing is found in Chapter 15, which comes from the Hebrew book, Solomon’s Song of Songs. Lastly, the logic is that, by using the mental and corporal bodies as a spiritual tool, the consenting adults can transcend dualistic thought (e.g., yin and yang, light and dark, time and space, good and bad and tap hidden power sources with the divine. Doing so earnestly could result in the phenomenal goals of creative insight, physical vitality, and even enlightenment.
In case you missed the “veiled” message referenced above…, the author invites you to take a journey into the world of the early sojourning Jews of the Spanish Netherlands and into the realm of the nature of mind that witnesses the mind as projector, seeing a grand, amorphous picture show.