The assembly room is hushed if not silent. The prickling stars of the audience’s collective exhaustion are almost visible, hanging in the periphery and stabbing through the darkened cornices of the hall.
God is in the room, but silent and without intention. Like us, he watches the dance unfold.
It is a slow minuet: a scuffling of patent leather shoes and white silk heels. Each dancer separate and dancing with air.
The audience is still, clad smartly but with signs of wear. A woman stands watching from the darkened perimeter of the hall. Her skirt is pleated, but also creased, and her lipstick is blurred: she is out of focus. One of the dancers moves away from the central group, the minuet changing its shape. She circles the blurred woman and breathes into the air surrounding her: “Planning does not cater sufficiently for pupils’ different abilities.”
On the back of the dancer’s dress is fixed a white bib: “Quality of teaching – 3” it reads in black Helvetica.
The audience is still. A man in discoloured chinos stands, holding himself in forced stillness. Looking closely, God sees the minute shivering, not yet shaking: a tremor in the right hip. The man’s tie is clean in this light and stained in other lights.
Another dancer breaks away from what is now a quadrille and caresses the air around the trembling man. The dancer’s black coat tails barely touch the trembling man as he circles him.
“Leaders do not monitor teaching and learning with sufficient frequency.” The syllables wash over the listener. His trembling subsides and erupts in a single tear. The sparkling tear is noted and the dance subtly shifts again, accelerating: a silent dervish.
The male dancer’s bib reads “Leadership and Management – 3”.
The dervish explodes and disperses into the surrounding audience. The dancers now move amongst the tired and the still. The tearful are each held in a warm circling manoeuvre; those still shaking are stilled by the graceful arc of the dance.
A kiss is heard.
And no one sees God’s smile.