Suspiria ★★★½

For over a decade, I was part of a dance troupe - a collection of women of different ages and backgrounds who met once a week, every Wednesday, to rehearse. We performed in bars, at Renaissance faires, at parties, at theaters, at churches, at grape stomps at wineries in the middle of the woods.

To find a space for rehearsal, we began teaching at the local prestigious ballet studio in town. Three of us troupe members taught these pre-teen ballerinas belly dance (titled "world fusion" as not to ruffle the feathers of parents and board members), and in exchange, we had free reign of the studio after hours. During the day time, the building was full of athletic, young, thin dancers rehearsing to Tchaikovsky, and at night - our troupe took over.

We would lay our veils out on the studio floor, and before we began to dance, we would talk. The troupe was more like a sisterhood, a family, a coven formed on its own.

We cried with each other when family members were lost or romantic relationships began to crumble, and we celebrated each other's engagements, promotions, pregnancy announcements. We read each other's tarot cards, shared tea from our herb gardens and ginger cookies from our kitchens and passed around Avon catalogs and swapped old costume pieces, lace veils and 25 yard skirts, and created our own rituals:

A charm created for pregnant members. A specific dance and gifts for each other's wedding receptions. At Christmas, we exchanged gifts and named it Secret Salome, after the woman who called for the head of John the Baptist. During some of our dances, we had certain yips and calls and laughs we shouted out at the same time every time during Coley skirt or Opa Cupa and tray veil. We had our own personal dance names, our special identities when we were together. We were in sync.

Watching 2018's Suspiria, I became so tenderhearted about my own coven, huddled together and dancing until we collapsed, until the late hours of the night in an empty ballet studio. The witches were at play when the ballerinas were gone, but we were the good kind. When my anxiety was at its worst and I found myself covered in hives for weeks, I was given a homemade tincture of stinging nettles that healed it. When an old member was in the middle of a days-long birth, we travelled to be with her and passed around a crystal between us all and fed her ice cubes and played familiar songs from rehearsal. The magic was us - our group together was what created the bond, decades old with ties to our teachers and former troupe members sprawling across the world.

This movie was not great, I would say, but I loved watching the coven at work - making and eating dinner together, shrieking and laughing at their own inside jokes, protecting each other at all costs. No, I can assure you that my dance troupe was not a direct parallel to this, but some moments were.

I miss the dance studio - I miss my bruised feet and my sore hips and sweating and breathing heavily and saying "let's do bhangra one more time." I miss hand sewing coins to my bras and painting my face with rouge lips and dark eyes and weaving flowers into my hair, and planning my beautiful outfits for each performance. I miss my sisters, I miss my coven and I miss these Wednesday nights.

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