One of my favorite dance video clips is from a wonderful scene from the classic movie “Los Tarantos” with the flamenco Goddess Carmen Amaya. In it she plays the matriarch in a Romeo and Juliet style story line. The scene that I’m crazy about is when she meets her son’s love interest and approves of her after her dancing. Drinks are poured and then Carmen herself dances a fiery Bulerias. She was in her mid 40’s when this movie was released in 1963.
It got me thinking (again) about getting older and dancing flamenco, about how we come more into our own as we get older.
I was born in 1969 (dude!) and as I go through all the hormonal changes that women my age go through, I feel it’s a wonderful time of “becoming.” I’m becoming more of who I was meant to be. I’m becoming more dedicated to my own needs and passions. I’m becoming better at setting firm boundaries, trusting my intuition, and finding the courage to speak my truth. I’ve heard my older friends express the same thing.
Technically I’m middle-aged, but I feel like my youthful Gen X self. I feel stronger than ever, more focused on what’s important, and even better, there are so many contemporary flamenco dancers my age that are amazing. Not to mention the real role models of flamenco dancers that I would love to grow up to be like.
Of course, the youngin’s can have lightning fast footwork and vast amounts of energy, but what makes flamenco so special is the personal story of each dancer. The cockiness of youth gives way to a humble confidence that comes with age. We allow ourselves to express more of who we truly are and not of what we think we should be. It’s the life experience that truly comes out.
Hopefully, as we all age we remember that as we get older we don’t have time to focus on our own insecurities in life, as flamenco dancers, at work, nowhere! It’s our time to step into our greatness, stand up and be seen. And that absolutely includes following our flamenco bliss wherever that may lead.
So, as long as the dancer takes care of the body and mind, the personal expression can only get better with time.
However, it IS important to take care of the body because flamenco is BRUTAL to it! It feeds our soul exponentially, but we will all cut our flamenco journey short if we don’t actively do the stretches and strengthening exercises to keep our bodies ready for dance. And don’t forget to fuel your body so that it thrives!
There are plenty of wonderful dancers in California that are over 40 and 50. But I don’t mention them since I don’t know if they’d appreciate being called out on their age. But here are some of my favorite Spanish dancers in their 40’s and beyond that have their birthdate splashed all over the internet.
It’s such a blessing to watch these flamenco dancers express themselves in such an honest way. I am reminded that life is such a blessing and that we all possess something special to express and to share. That it takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable. So, as the years pass, I hope that I can step up even more with an open heart to DANCE MY TRUTH. And I hope the same for you.
Angelita Gomez, 1944
Isabel Bayón, 1969
Rafael Campallo, 1974