The Great DancesEdit
The twelve great dances are danced during summer at almost every gathering of the Households. There are thirteen dances; however, only twelve are ever danced. Either the seventh or the eighth is omitted, depending on the company.
Harschat: The Opening DanceEdit
The first dance is the harschat, literally translated slender thread, and is known to Vardin as the dance of the canten. To outsiders it is the opening dance. Every great gathering of the Households includes, at minimum, the opening dance.
The harschat is the dance of those with at least a slender thread to tie them: of acquaintanceship, of birth bonds, of shared work or association, of friendship, or of family. Partners face each other throughout, enabling them to exchange pleasantries, deepen acquaintance, discuss converging interests or issues, or develop relationships.
To request another's opening dance requires the right to do so. To request amiss is perhaps the worst social blunder possible to make.
Derlat: Dance of the SeschtenEdit
The second dance is the derlat, the dance of the seschten, those connected by blood or by choice in Household or sascheta. Literally, it is the song of touch, for it is a touching dance that makes clear the permission of closeness.
The First Great Slaughter brought many changes to the Vardin way of life, but some things survived: the Households and blood family. A person is still measured by the measure of those who claim him.
The derlat is the dance of those joined by blood or by choice, within the nation, within the sascheta, or within their own House. Partners dance with arms clasped or touching, a gesture only acceptable between those who are close to each other or having the same associations.
It is common to request the second dance in advance. It is a time to build upon what is already well founded.
Ãuret: The Family DanceEdit
The third dance is the ãuret, or the dance of the lélt. Literally translated, it is the bright sound. It is only danced between close or immediate family.
Very little is more important in Vardin than the family, and very few dances are more important than the dance one dances with one's family.
The ãuret is the bright sound—the laughter of brothers and sisters, the sweet songs to wrap the dreams of young children, the words of love within marriage, and the exultant cries of successful training complete. From the child to the young to the bound to the parents and grandparents, every tie is more precious than any other could ever be.
Vavkot: The Dance of the HouseholdsEdit
The fourth dance is the vavkot, the dance of yavén, the Household. It is danced between members of the same Household and cannot be danced by outsiders or those who have no Household. Literally translated, it is the blood bond.
Let us never forget the dragons. Many find it strange that the guardians are rothnen and the dragons are rothnarai. Perhaps they do not remember that once the two were one.
The fourth dance is the vavkot, the dance of the Households. The keeping of Houshold law, the guardianship of Household lands, the building of Household strength and honor, and the binding of Household tradition—these things belong to all of the Households. They belong to all who bear the blood bond.
Even the dragons.
Shielat: The Open DanceEdit
The fifth dance, the shielat, is known to outsiders as the open dance, but literally means the song or music without touch. It is danced between anyone and signifies the mysterious nature of knowing a person or not knowing them at all. Anyone at all may dance it.
In Vardin, it is far more common to dance without touch than with it. The fingers that do not whisper when they do not meet, the eyes that speak, the heart that hears.
To the children of Vardin, this dance is a reminder that no matter how intimate one may become with another, no matter how close, that there is a mysterious nature of knowing the other. There is always more to learn, always more to understand, always the unknown.
Layelét: Of the FreeEdit
The sixth dance is the layelét, literally translated song of the free, and is to Vardin the dance of the unbound. It may be danced by those who are not yet bound to their Households, the Queen, or their rothnen, or by those who will never be bound at all.
Malviét: Warm TouchEdit
The seventh dance is generally preferred to the eighth dance, due to its more inclusive nature. It is the malviét, the dance of friendship and blood family, literally the warming touch.
Chretsayet: Of the BoundEdit
The eighth dance, the chretsayet, is rarely danced. It is the dance of the intimate. While this could include many categories of relationships, by tradition, it has come to only include those bound in marriage.
Havelót: Beautiful KnotEdit
The ninth dance is the havelót, literally translated beautiful knot, it is known as the dance of many. It is formed by the joining of hands by four to five dancers and can only be danced in groups.
Shenát: Covering ShawlEdit
The tenth dance is the shenát, the dance of the women, literally translated shawl or head covering. It is a modified version of an old fire dance that is only danced by women and girls.
Veilyet: Stand of the GuardEdit
The eleventh dance is the veilyet, the dance of the men or, literally, the stand of the guard. It is only danced by men and boys and, like the shenát, is a fairly open dance that permits much free-flowing discussion.
Siliét: Silken BraidEdit
The twelfth dance is the siliét, literally the silken braid, also known as the dance of the rope. Its name is taken from the way it is danced and not the dancers, who are traditionally young girls, but may be anyone.
Vishayet: Dance of BeginningsEdit
The final dance is the dance of beginnings, the Queen's dance, named in honor of the first Vardin Queen: Vishet.
The vishayet is danced by any who wish to honor their nation and their ruler. It is taught to every young child in the land of Vardin. It is taught with grace to every woman and with strength to every man. It is a dance of binding touches and partners exchanged in a complex weave.
Always when the dance is ended, the children of Vardin know that all has just begun.