If the music is good, you dance
Robert Saviano is an Italian writer I have followed for nearly a decade ever since I read his first book exposing the Camorra Mafia, 'Gomorra' at the young age of 27. While it brought a talented young man fame, it has almost brought him unwanted attention and since then he has lived with a 24 hour Police escort and lives with a heavy burden over him knowing that the Mafia never forgets. A consequence of isolation imposes, to leave his own homeland, a somewhat uncomfortable life, he was once asked what he would love to do the most at that moment in time. He replied 'to go to Fetrinelli (an Italian Chain bookstore), spending the day flicking through books and going for a beer afterwards'. Something so simple, something we take for granted. It is also something that when I used to come back on 'holiday' from living in Italy, I would do in Waterstones' bookstore in Leeds while I waited for my two best mates to finish work and go for a beer. Very happy days.
Last week he posted this video on his Facebook page, something very different from exposing crime and standing firm in this world against it. I think it was a moment for him that did the same for me. Like an oasis in a desert of uncertainty, it was something so simple, like reading a book or a drinking a beer. And it mesmerised me.
A young Palestinian ballerina, a tourist in Trieste, Italy with her family, comes across a street musician, a violinist dressed in Opera tails, playing "Comptine d'un Autre Eté: L'Apres Midi" by french Musician and composer Yann Tiersen. As her father starts to record the performance he starts to almost plead with his daughter to start dancing, "Yalla, Rima, yalla, do it," he says in Arab, please Rima, do it, do it for me, look I'm already recording, his encouragement continues. And then as the music takes hold of her, as her shyness evaporates in the afternoon sun, the strings and the piano keys take hold of her and she can resist no longer.
I have watched this video every day this week. In the morning at work, I have a daily report to do first thing and music helps me in to the day, I have had the whole song on my earphones on repeat for as long as needed, encapsulating me. A piece that became known from the French movie 'Amelie', I find it hard to believe I have not had it shout out to me before. It flows and feeds you, a drip of modern sublime composed music. And it flowed through Rima Baransi, this Palestinian tourist, a ballerina in the making, the moment embracing her, hugging her so tight that she had to pull herself in to the embrace until it became part of her.
Let us not forget the violinist who we find out is called Ivo Remenec from Slovakis. How he enhances this piece of music with his own graceful touch with each emotional draw on the violin strings. Two foreigners in a beautiful country, making a contribution and giving something to make it even more so. If I had been there and seen this, I would have pleaded as much as the girl's father for them to perform it all again from start to finish.
A girl from a place of seemingly endless conflict, in times and a week when clouds of uncertainty have gathered over us, she gave rays of sun to break through, she showed the world what we need; freedom and expression. And as she tuned in to the music she felt it inside, and she focused and danced like nobody was watching her. A truly beautiful moment. I can only imagine how proud her father must feel.
In the years before my Dad died from cancer, he took up oil painting after being inspired by the late Bob Ross. Something inside him seemed to have been awakened and unleashed and he started to splash colour on to canvas with vigour. He built on his first efforts until one day when taking an African savannah landscape painting he had done to the frame shop with my mum. 'Oh, nice, Mount Kilimanjaro,' commented another customer on seeing the painting and the focus of his effort. My mum said you have never seen your dad look so proud. It inspired him to do more, to get better, to love what he did and to shine. There is just one thing I have asked my mother for and that is for one day to have the small painting he went on to do of a small fishing boat in the sunset, that adorns the walls of her living room like the rest of his paintings. I thank that fellow customer for what he said to my dad.
We need to focus, we need to be passionate. We need to be like this girl's father to encourage our fellow people, our nearest and dearest, we need to believe in people's talent and ability and make them shine. We need to be like Rima and dance like there is nobody watching. It doesn't matter if you haven't got the moves like Jagger, whether you toe -tap at your desk or finger strum the steering wheel of your car, or just nod your head or shimmy your shoulders. It doesn't matter what the beat or tune is, because quite simply, in a world that needs simplicity and beautiful moments like this, wherever you are or wherever you come from, if the music is good, you dance. Let it play in you.