Let’s face it – four years of flamenco training here in the United States is equivalent to a toddler in Spain learning Sevillanas before they can walk. So, when on my very first excursion to Andalucia in September, I humbly placed myself in a beginner level class.
Walking to class the first day, I was both very excited and nervous. This was my first flamenco lesson outside of Louisville, KY. I definitely wanted to make the most of it. But, the little creepy crawler inside my head had me worried if I was in too deep. This was going to be WAY MORE than I was accustomed to. Could I keep up? Would I remember any of it? I resolved myself to being content if I could simply not pass out in front of a room full of non-English speakers and if my feet didn’t look like I had just walked barefoot through a mine field of desert cactus by the last day of class.
It was painfully clear by the second day, I was not in a beginner class. The bulerias choreography was very footwork intensive and filled with precise, sharp movements….the perfect thing for me since these are two elements I have been working on at home…but this was the real deal. This was the Oompa-Loompa’s dancing and singing in the garden filled with strange candies. This was the Wonka Bar with the winning foil ticket. This was the Everlasting Gobstopper of flamenco. This must have been how Charlie felt when embarking on his tour of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
As the week progressed, I went through a myriad of emotions. I was exhausted and tired, I was confident and eager, I was challenged and challenged some more. Some days I wondered if I’d make it out alive. Soothing river of chocolate, where are you?
The final day was a double-edged sword; I was sad it would soon be over and my plane ride home looming in the near distance but my tired, aching body was rejoicing. The blisters could heal and my “flamenco ass” back pain could relax. (fla-men-co ass \fl∋-‘men-kö\ ‘as\ noun: the malady resulting from vigorous flamenco dancing activity; also: dancing my ass off).
For all that I put my poor, aged body through that week, I am not sorry one bit. You know why? Because I loved it and had so much fun! I persevered and I did it! I successfully got through 1 1/2 hour classes for five days without breaking, pulling or twisting anything, without falling out on the dance floor into a flamenco coma, without having a desperate, exhaustion-induced tantrum during the more difficult moments, without completely losing my brain capacity for remembering the choreography, and without blowing up like a giant blueberry.
I was, and am, so proud of myself! It was hard and I wasn’t the fastest learner in class. But I did something way more important – I had this amazing experience and I did great! Sometimes I do not give myself enough credit, especially in flamenco, so this was greatly beneficial for my dancing and my confidence. My Louisville teachers prepared me very well and I am grateful for that. They have been feeding me little bites of a Scrumdiddlyumptious bar all along!
Next time the little critter in my head moans about 20 minutes straight of zapateado, I will recall the fact that I have made it through flamenco in Spain!! This will be my lifetime supply of candy. I think, quite possibly, I found the Golden ticket, after all.