My flamenco family… I was not born into this family, in fact, none of us were, but it is a family I chose. There are healthy doses of beautiful hearts, sincere moments, and loving gestures mixed affectionately with quirky personalities, a little bit of crazy, and a dash of dysfunction. Sounds like a family to me! And it only makes us love each other more.
Who else will stay out till 3 am with you when you spontaneously find yourselves at a ‘quaint’ local nightclub with amazing shows and dance music? Who else runs through the streets of Sevilla with you, trying to get to the flamenco store on time, but realizing you are caught smack dab in the middle of crowded streets for a coronation ceremony processional? Who else will laugh and giggle over inappropriate things with you in the middle of the night? Who else laughs so hard they cry when you accidentally hit the waiter in the face with your backpack which happens to be carrying all your ceramics from Spain? Who else laughs with you, not at you, when your mantón ends up on the floor instead of still in your hands at the end of a number? Who else pulls together the best flash mob ever for your birthday? And who else makes you the most outrageously awesome birthday cake ever? This family, that’s who!
This family also comes to your aid when you are sick, consoles you when grief strikes, stands in the rain crying with you, listens to your troubles over one (or five) glasses of wine, and sends you messages of hope and encouragement just when you need it. Most importantly, the arms of this family are always open for a wordless hug, just because, sometimes, that’s all a person needs.
My flamenco family goes beyond flamenco. Yes, that is what brought us together and that is the common thread running through each of us, but I share just as much with them outside the studio.
Take my trip to Spain last year, for example. There were 12 of us staying in a house together for 10 days, coming and going at all different times, with different agendas, and yet we found the time to come together at least once a day to share our stories. Stories of hilarity, stories of excitement, stories of discovery, and stories of awe filled the late nights as we sat together on the rooftop terrace, breathing in the Sevilla air. Not one grumpy word was uttered…ok, well, maybe one or two, bourne out of pure exhaustion, but at the end of the day, there was nothing but camaraderie and genuine interest in each others adventures. What’s more, we had NO bathroom sharing issues!! Tell me how often that happens in a family this big!?
Another moment that I hold near and dear is my recent birthday party. I turned 50 and was determined to throw a crazy-fun party, and I did. But it was the involvement, the energy, and the surprises of my flamenco family who made it so much more than I expected. They made sure it was a party I would never forget and that meant the world to me. Two other people had a very large part in this event, as well; my daughters.
I know I said earlier this is a family I chose but I would be remiss if I didn’t include them in this wonderfully talented and committed bunch. Although they are my blood family, they are also part of my flamenco family. We have danced together for over four years now and they have been such a big part of my flamenco journey. Seeing them flourish in the art of flamenco has brought me so much pride. With them by my side, as fellow dancers, as encouragers, and as participants in so much fun, it brings this family full circle. I love sharing this experience with them, even when they make a rule about “no flamenco talk” on the way home from class when mom can’t shut up about her mess-ups. It’s all good, I just lace up my castanets for a hearty round of practice, and watch them hastily flee the house. 🙂
This tribe of misfit toys (a term I use with the utmost affection and respect and as a nod to a recent funny conversation) has made me feel at home on their island. They opened their lair to me (and my daughters) and welcomed us in. I can honestly say, in all of my 50 years on this earth, I have never felt more like I belong somewhere than I do with these people.
Added note 2/16/17- recently found out who the artist is of the beautiful and meaningful painting below; Judith Shaw. Check her out! http://judithshawart.com/