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Once upon a time, I was just trying to get through class without throwing down my water bottle in a fit of frustration. I was trying so hard, overcompensating maybe, for my older age and unwilling ambivalence. I fluctuated between the uncertainty of keeping up and needing to do this my way. My heart was not in charge. That said, I understood I had to learn the technique and grasp it with skill before I could make it mine.
While the occasions of this mental tightrope act are much less frequent, I have relented any notions of this flamenco journey of mine being a cake walk. Indeed not. Frustrations exist and probably always will. That is part of honing a craft, especially one as emotionally driven as flamenco. But what IS happening is the fruition of my initial goal; dancing for myself, from within myself.
During my four years of training, I have given flamenco my all. I am always there; learning, practicing, absorbing, watching, supporting, letting it meld with my soul, deepening my knowledge. Flamenco is a highly time and effort-involved art form but I have never backed down and never will. It has become an very, very important part of my life on many levels. Still, some little piece of the puzzle was missing…until a few weeks ago.
The moment I BECAME THE DANCE-that is the only way I can aptly describe it. My mind was not in charge, heck, I don’t really remember thinking at all. My heart and soul were leading the way and the rest of me just followed along. My body seemed to intrinsically know what to do. It was an unearthly feeling, the connection I had to the beautiful guitarra and expressive cante. I probably couldn’t even tell you what I did. It was as if my emotions were flooding from my pores and onto the dance floor. The audience didn’t exist, my fellow flamencos were a blur, and truly, it felt like I was dancing with my eyes closed. I wasn’t thinking of the next step, or trying to remember what I practiced, or conjuring my flamenco face. What existed in that space, at that time, was raw emotion revealing itself against the backdrop of meaningful cante and toque. A minute later, it was over. All I recall is feeling like I was one with the palo and not just dancing the dance, but BEING the dance, embodying the dance. It was a very profound experience unlike any other I’ve had in my dance life. One of my maestra’s, who was also the cantaora on this occasion, later said she also felt it. She felt ME.
I lived a fleeting moment as a genuine flamenca. And it brought me back to my center, back to remembering to be true to who I am. When Team Pandemonium starts playing a rousing game of kickball in my head, I pull back and remember why I am pursuing this daunting but satisfying art form. It is precisely for moments like this. No one can ever replicate or take from me that 60 seconds when everything else fell away from the world and I was an uninhibited vehicle for my passion.