Sacrifice is synonymous with being deeply involved in an art form, in my case, flamenco dancing. Some offerings to the flamenco Gods are big. Some small. No matter how much we love it, there will eventually be bumps in the road that may have us contemplating just why we do this.
I wager a bet that most flamenco dancers are like me; when it gets tough, we want to dance even more! Each time something negative has been on my path, I just want to stomp on it with the full force of my nailed shoes and keep going. It is precisely THAT kind energy that fuels my flamenco fire.
With this mentality in mind, some bumps are just part and parcel of being a committed dancer. We accept it. We prepare for it the best we can. And we keep on keepin’ on. Some fallout from pursuing my passion for flamenco is expected, is worth it, and is ok.
Lack of personal time– I go to class several times a week and practice, practice, practice. I practice at home, engage with online tutorials and communities, as well as listen to music and watch videos constantly. I’ve rushed to class straight from work, given up Saturday mornings or afternoons with my family, been in class until late at night, eating when I can, or even passed up other events or outings because of a class or show. Free time easily becomes “dance time.” It is necessary for this art form, to learn all you can and hone your skills at every opportunity. The learning never ends, which also means your studies often come before “me time.” It is a delicate balance, to be sure, finding time for yourself when you work full-time, manage a household, have children, plus adding in a demanding hobby like dancing. I’m here to tell you, it can be done. It takes effort but it is super important to carve out some self-care and down time for yourself. It will re-energize you and allow you to give more to your dance. It took me a few years to figure this out.
Financial burden– Becoming a performing dancer requires more than just skill, technique, and passion. It also requires costuming, shoes, and accessories. A myriad of them. The art form of flamenco comes with handcrafted shoes to keep your tootsies safe from injury, custom-made dresses, skirts, and blouses, hair adornments to match, jewelry, mantons, fans, castanets, and the list goes on. None of this is cheap. But having beautiful costumes to shake your tail feathers in is part of the flamenco deal. I have to budget carefully in order to get one nice thing a year. This doesn’t include additional costs like attending class, special workshops, and any travel-related expenses to dance or take workshops out of town. The money can rack up fast! And, it’s continual…you will always need to add to your wardrobe, so the financial aspect is never ending. You need a wide open wallet.
Overuse of your body– We are artists, yes, but we are also athletes. As such, we are working our bodies hard and sweating like crazy each class, workshop, or performance. Do this two to three times a week and it can take a physical toll. You can stretch and use proper technique all day, but, sometimes, the body just says, “no.” We’ve coined a term at my studio called, “flamenco ass.” Yep, you dancers know what I’m talking about! That lower back pain that aches like you’ve had an elephant sitting on your butt. Your arms, feet, and legs, will also be sore at given point in time. It is expected with all the physical exertion flamenco dancing brings. Let’s add here, too, the simple cuts, scratches, and bruises left from fans and castanets! Avoiding injury is certainly possible, with proper self-care and technique. Alas, some of us are older and it happens anyway. Listen to your body and don’t push TOO hard.
There are more, like sacrificing time with family or in relationships, the mental roller coaster of learning to be confident in your dance, pandemics that keep you away from class and society so you must pull from your will to stay in the game, and the constant need to be dancing, everything else be damned! 🙂 Well, these are true for me, anyway. 🙂
All of these “sacrifices” are made acceptable and manageable because of how much I love being a flamenca, being a part of a beautiful community, the bonds made with fellow artists, the fun of it, and how much it permeates my soul. All worth it! Your artistry does not have to sacrifice!