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God made her eyes…

November 7, 2009

Dance is not the footsteps. It is what happens between steps.

Antonio Gades

This afternoon at Tangos Por Fiesta class I made an entrada into the circle…

The circle is when the class seats itself around the dancer and does palmas (rhythmic clapping) in compas with the guitarist, and the singer…

Although we typically dance in a group, as students, flamenco is a solo dance…

and circle time is where a dancer can learn to prepare for the solo…

Even though I get vertigo just before I go onto this centre stage I make myself do it…

I have issues of perfection that I am working on…

If I can’t do something well, to the high standards I set for myself, I won’t do it at all…

Unless I feel compelled to…

And I am compelled to become a good enough flamenco dancer…

And in this place, in this class, with these women around me, I can grow myself in this department because it is a very safe space for learning…

In the circle, like when watching a flamenco performance, the observers call out words of encouragement…

And today my teacher spoke words that came to me like the bricks I need to help me build the bridge from where I am now to where I want to go tomorrow…

Building the bridge as I dance on it…

Her words came as whispers from her eyes that said…

Listen to the music…

Wait… wait… wait…

Get ready to walk on the stage…

wait…

Prepare yourself…

wait…

Listen to the singer…

Now get ready…

Now go…

Walk on…

In a circle…

Walk, walk, walk…

Give the singer a signal that you’re ready to dance…

dance, dance, dance…

The thing that is so perfect about flamenco is that it gives permission to do and be all of the things that you were told as a child you shouldn’t…

Flamenco gives you permission to make your belly and your behind so much bigger than they really are…

Permission to lock your knees out…

To sniff your armpits mysteriously…

To be serious…

Confident…

Angry…

Sad…

Pained…

Happy…

Joyful…

and proud…

A classmate said to me after I made my salida and sat down…

You really don’t have any idea how good you are…

And I don’t yet…

because I have voices inside of me that I often don’t even know are there…

Voices that speak louder than words…

After my turn in the circle my teacher gives me some critique…

and she dances with me…

She is learning that I learn best by feeling and doing…

She recognizes that my body needs her body to dance…

Her cells sync up with mine as she moves…

And then with some practice, looking both inside and outside at the same time…

Rooted in self-trust…

I can go O solo mio…

Today my good enough dancer made friends with my good enough mother…

integrating feelings of embarrassment and fear of judgement as rebar in setting cement…

Flamenco is born from feeling…

The technique is not the same as 100 years ago…

The younger generation has a lot of knowledge and virtuosity…

WE try to do everything perfectly…

but we should also leave space for feelings and emotions and the artist’s personality….

On stage you have to be able to say:

Ladies and gentlemen…

This is me…

This is my heart…

Do as you wish with it…

Belen Lopez

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