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Jamal and Rasil First Draft (1 Viewer)

Lizzie Brookes

Senior Member
Hi,

I have written a new story. While the show not tell is hard I'm trying to do it in a variety of different ways and as my main characters are based on historical figures that lived across many different eras I can't pick one specific era for my story collection so usually a character will come across a historical figure in the fantasy world and learn about their life in one way or another.

All suggestions are welcome, thanks.


14. Jamal and Rasil


History of Art was such a popular subject that it was offered in the form of A Level, degree, foundation course, and short course. Inspired by the success of that subject, Belvan University designed a History of Dance course, covering the history of ballet, tap, ballroom, jazz, and modern dance as well as Afuzoan and Anean Dance. The course also included the study of a number of famous dancers across all eras and nationalities.


Ambika Mallaya logged in to her online portal in order to begin Unit 7 of her History of Dance course. The first topic of this unit covered the life of a Heskana dancer named Jamal Buzidi. Ambika opened and played the first video clip;


“Jamal was born on March 31[SUP]st[/SUP], 1872. His mother, a noblewoman died in childbirth, and his stepmother, Raina Platovna, encouraged his artistic interests. Throughout his life Jamal remained close with his stepmother, writing to her until she passed away in 1919. During his school years, Jamal took piano lessons, showing a gift for composition. In 1890, he went on to study law at Dedmo University, associating with a group of friends who were interested in music and painting.”


The next item was a portrait of Jamal. He was of Hyacinth-Macaw ethnicity with grey skin, black eyes and long, straight, mid-blue hair.


Ambika then played the second video clip;


“In 1896, Jamal graduated in law but he realised his interest and passion was in the arts. He wanted to pursue a musical career but was discouraged because a vocal work performed in public had left a poor impression. Jamal then went on a tour of Latone, exploring museums in Lanice, Lacar, and Pares, all places which he would return to later in life. He hoped to become a composer but was forced to abandon this dream on being told he had no talent for music. Jamal instead channelled his frustration with art criticism which was either a patriotic, traditionally academic genre or revolutionary, with the emphasis on all art being socially relevant. Jamal felt both these approaches were limiting, instead drawing attention to the romantic painters of previous centuries, and icons and artwork from his own culture”.


Ambika was then shown images of examples of such artwork, before proceeding to the third video clip;


“The negative criticism Jamal was given did not discourage him or the World of Art Movement and he continued to publish critical art pieces, In 1899, he secured a job working for a theatre director, becoming responsible for the production of the theatre’s annual showcase. This role fully immersed Jamal in the theatrical world for the first time. When asked to stage a ballet, Sylvia, Jamal’s design ideas shocked the theatre, causing him to be fired. He then went back to organizing art exhibitions, collecting Omian artists of the past and present. In doing so, he collected a number of works by fine art painters of the nineteenth century, who had been overlooked or forgotten. Jamal then expanded his ambitions, putting together an exhibition of artwork from his own culture, from icons to modernist works.”


Without pausing, Ambika went to the next video clip, consumed with passion for what she was studying.


“The warm reception Jamal had received for his collection of artworks encouraged him to return to his love of music. In 1907, he staged five concerts before founding the Kanunzi Ballet Company in 1909. Jamal appointed Devain Hamed, as chief choreographer. Devain was an avant-gardist who blended ballet with modern dance. Rasil Sesay was then cast as the company’s prime male dancer. Jamal and Rasil later became romantically involved, and Jamal developed Rasil’s career with the company. Jamal’s friend from World of Art, Kenna Tahir, became the artistic director, designing many of the costumes.”


Next was an extract from a book;

Tahir and Jamal shared the aim of creating a total work of art, through the seamless combination of performance, music and set, and costume design. All the designs were visually colourful and exotic, combining elements of Jamal’s own culture with ideas from the World of Art. This was described as a “dynamic and innovative approach”. The success of Jamal’s ballet company spread and he was described as a “hard taskmaster, demanding only the best from his dancers and inspiring fear and respect in those who worked for the company". Jamal was amiable yet strict, and the World of art group’s ideas of the 1890s being the driving force behind the company, Jamal was inextricably linked with it. As the company moved from strength of strength, Jamal commissioned ballet music from various composers. Jamal even had dealings with Igor Stravinsky, a relatively unknown composer.


The fifth video clip described Jamal’s commission of The Firebird, and then went on to detail how Rasil Sesay’s marriage to Hezzu Amara resulted in his dismissal. While it was not unusual for ballet dancers to leave the profession after marriage, the video presenter speculated that this had partly arisen from Jamal’s own feelings for Rasil and the perceived betrayal his marriage had caused. The relationship between Jamal and Rasil was never the same afterwards.


“Jamal immediately replaced Rasil with Bari Mousa, who starred in the main roles, went on to choreograph major productions, and also replaced Rasil as Jamal’s lover. Jamal was known as a key figure for bringing the art and music of his culture to other countries. By commissioning rising musical composers, he helped to shape the musical landscape of the twentieth century. Jamal championed Stravinsky and other such experimental composers, developing new tones and rhythms. This brought music and ballet to a wider audience and increased the popularity of ballet as a major form of art.”


The sixth video detailed how Jamal’s decision to commission avant-garde artists to design the sets and costumes for his company, had huge repercussions across Latone. The use of colour revolutionized the aesthetics of early twentieth century design, theatre and fashion.


“He built on nineteenth century trends on orientalism. His productions were steeped in the romanticized idea of the exotic east, through the plots, costumes and set designs. The productions also sparked fashions for eastern styles, opulent colours and rich fabrics in both clothing and interior designs.”


The seventh video related how Jamal was openly gay, embarking on passionate affairs with a number of dancers and although this alienated him in the more conservative factions, he nevertheless won patrons and supporters in well-connected and aristocratic circles. The immortal Gods were so impressed with the man’s courage and passion that upon his death, he was transformed into a phoenix.
 
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codyrobi613

Senior Member
Are you able to provide some more context on what the larger story is about? You did a great job making jamal feel like an actual historical figure with your detail and knowledge of subject matter. However without more context for this excerpt, I feel like I'm reading from a text book.
 

Lizzie Brookes

Senior Member
Thanks I'll see what I can do. It's going to be hard to contextualise Jamal as he died before the story began but I can contextualise Ambika.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Ambika then played the second video clip;
Ambika was then shown images of examples of such artwork, before proceeding to the third video clip;
Without pausing, Ambika went to the next video clip, consumed with passion for what she was studying.

Right at the end we are told she was consumed with passion, it might be good to have some more in the way of reaction along the way, eg
'Struck by his impressive appearance, and wanting to learn more Ambika played the second video clip straight away.'
'She carefully studied the images of such art work in the second clip, impressed by his diversity, before proceeding to the third clip.

It might make the feel a bit less like 'Reading from a text book'. codyrobi is right, you do a great job of making him feel like an actual historical figure, I actually Googled him just in case, but the majority of it actually is from the course, emphasising the person reading it a little could lighten things a bit.
 

Lizzie Brookes

Senior Member
Thanks for the suggestions Olly.

Jamal is based on a Russian dancer called Sergei but I altered his name and ethnicity and added fantasy elements.

I usually stick very closely to what historically happened with him though - if historical fiction writers are told to stick closely to what actually happened then the same should apply to fantasy too.
 

JJ Dean

Senior Member
I agree with the commenters who admired the attention to detail and the feeling that we are reading about a real historical figure. I wonder if you need to include Ambika at all in this section. You might just present this material as an actual excerpt from a text book. This is a storytelling device that I often enjoy. You can really have fun with it. Adding the name of the fictional historian who wrote it; a snippet of an unrelated entry that starts with the same letter of the alphabet, as if this is the next entry in the book, but it gets cut off in mid-sentence, etc.
 

Lizzie Brookes

Senior Member
I agree with the commenters who admired the attention to detail and the feeling that we are reading about a real historical figure. I wonder if you need to include Ambika at all in this section. You might just present this material as an actual excerpt from a text book. This is a storytelling device that I often enjoy. You can really have fun with it. Adding the name of the fictional historian who wrote it; a snippet of an unrelated entry that starts with the same letter of the alphabet, as if this is the next entry in the book, but it gets cut off in mid-sentence, etc.

I accidentally employed the technique in my effort to show not tell. As I would like to model my main characters on historical figures in order to reduce the risk of being sued if it is accepted for publication, I usually research the historical figure's life and then change his/her name, ethnicity, place they live etc. Turning history fantasy though runs the risk of turning into a telling as I am going through character's life from birth to death, which is why I presented it like this. Besides I can incorporate my own disappointment that in real life history of dance is not covered much - if I include it in a fantasy story maybe people will be motivated to create it.

I've done the text book presentation in two of my previous stories but I still had a made up character read/study the textbook in order to make it into a story - I just didn't want to keep sending fictional characters to the library all the time hence doing it differently in this one.

Glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading.
 
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