The table dance is a traditional dance in Zaizung done at formal events to set a table. It is related to the Butterfly dance of Quaxin Xun, including the 7/4 rhythm and use of baskets placed on the dancers' heads, but does not tell a story, nor fill the same social role. Historically, it was a bit of entertainment put on by a mostly Kwang elite during formal dinners, to show the host had enough money to hire a very trained set of dancers as servers. It also shows up during New Year celebrations. In more modern times, resorts on the islands around Zaizung serve in this style to lender a bit of local flair.
Sections of a table dance
There is flexibility about which sections there are, and how many times each section is done, but here are the four main sections, each with their own unique music.
cloth running section
The opening number of any table dance includes dancers running out with the table cloth billowing along behind them. Frequently, they pause in tableaux before gracefully placing it on the table. A common theme of the tableaux is vaguely nautical, because of Zaizung history. In many New Year's sections, the table is already mostly set, and this is just a cloth to run along the table or streamers. Since it is a musical prelude, and does not need the same level of finesse as later sections, it frequently has the most visually stunning artistic flairs in both music and dance style.
There are various schools of how to choreograph this section. The most common is to give each dancer a single type of tablewear to put on a wide and shallow basket over their head, and have them place a plate or set of chopsticks in front of each guest. Troupes doing larger events tend to do trios, where one dancer holds the basket, and two dancers place the items in front of guests, in order to make sure that the basket holder does not need to change balance and reach. For a shorter ceremony with more servers, some resorts have started having a full place setting put out on a placemat and each dancer has a placemat they place in front of each guest. In many cases, the end of this dance is a dancer placing appetizers on each plate.
While not every meal with this has this section, the serving of bowls of hot soup has a very distinct musical style, as a warning to guests that there are dancers with trays of hot soup going around the table. The music is much more percussion heavy? It might be in 13/8, with 3 bits of 3 and 2 bits of 2 (1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2)
Pitchers and other containers of cold drinks. Contains a lot more spinning, and a simple napkin folding pattern for guests to indicate how much they want.
Revealing the dishes
Bringing out the main dishes from the kitchen is a formal affair, meant to call attention to the lavishness of the feast. These dishes are usually Qonklese-style, with people expected to eat things with rice and using chopsticks.
These tend to be more finger food, eaten on corn arepas and the like. Servers bring around finger cleaning bowls at the start and end of this phase.
This section uses a musical style similar to the brash style of the soup section, but with a slower beat
Collecting the dishes
Unlike the table setting, baskets tend to be carried at waist height to clear the dishes. If a second set of baskets is used, it tends to be deeper than the ones used to hold dishes for setting.
The Table Dance Coup
THIS SECTION IS ALL NOTES
a historic coup where a would-be ruler looks defeated, invites over generals for what seems like a surrender, but he's like "oh, let's talk about this over food" and suddenly dancers appear setting the "negotiating" table and people are already kinda nervous at this power move of turning what seemed to be a surrender into him hosting a feast, and in that shock, has some dancers either bring in some symbolic threat (snakes?) or actual daggers, and "surprise" them, and by "surprise" I mean "have the dancers stab enough that the rest fall in line"
I have no idea who I want doing that coup - is it the Qonklese Olboros dynasty taking over Zaizung and solidifying a base before taking over Qonlaks proper? is it to make a fascist puppet state? is it a purely local affair? is it to gain independence from Qonlaks?
In Popular Culture
Many spy novels and movies contain the trope of one spy passing secret information onto another spy through using the dancers as messengers. There is no evidence to indicate that this happened on any wide scale, due to the difficulties of quickly telling the recipient without speaking.