Just like the great Mercedes Sosa sings, “Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto,” (Thank you, life, for giving me so much,) I have many things to be thankful for: my husband, my kids, my family, my health, my business and especially this amazing picture of my daughter, Maia, and I on stage together when she was 5.
But today I am thankful for FLAMENCO because it has given me so much.
My purpose is self empowerment and personal expression for myself and my students through this wonderful art form. Performing is an avenue for my own expression, but I thrive in the dance studio and online teaching my students. It’s our collective goal to have the courage to stand up and be seen. No small feat for sure, but it’s a purposeful journey. If we can live self actualized, then it encourages others to do the same. You know the saying- a rising tide lifts all boats.
Seeing the giants in flamenco dance (some of my favorites here and here) always leaves me inspired to continue my own journey through this art form. I love how each of my favorite dancers become more expressive and nuanced with age. The stamina and jack hammer power of youth gives way to nuance, sou and a certain knowing of self that exudes a different, more grounded confidence in the dance (and I’m sure in life as well.) I am so, so grateful that flamenco has such an international impact and that the Spanish flamenco community embraces us as well.
Calling it stress relief is really not enough — it’s more like therapy, flamencura. It helps us work through our own emotions as we express the aire of a particular palo. A Solea or Seguirilla allows us to explore our shadow, while an Alegrias of Guajiras allows us to explore our light. But of course since flamenco is full of dichotomies, the opposite can also be true. It’s also meditative because we must stay IN the moment. We must focus or we get completely lost.
Flamenco doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is all about community and I’m grateful for each one of you for being part of my life. I am grateful to all my flamencas in class who make me laugh, laugh, laugh. I am grateful for all of my students online who trust me to guide them on their own journeys. I am grateful for all my flamenco compañeros, some whom I’ve known since my early baby flamenca days 25 years ago.
I’ve seen very supportive flamenco environments and I’ve seen very clicky and caddy ones. What is crystal clear to me is that we ALL just want to be loved, accepted and seen. And as artists we are especially vulnerable with these feelings…. even the narcissists. So, I strive to creating a supportive and accepting one.
Even though flamenco can be taxing on the body, I am stronger now than I was in my 20’s. It also keeps me youthful since it’s a dance form that evolves with you as you age. There are so many “mature” flamenco dancers that gain more aire as they age and can still keep up with the chops. Read more about them here.
I leave you with a recording with the amazing Mercedes Sosa singing “Gracias a la vida.” I cry like a baby every time I hear it! Also one of my favorite Bulerías clips from Corral de la Morería with Blanca del Rey and other dancers with AMAZING shoes- showing me yet again how fun and silly flamenco can be. And finally, a video of a kick butt Japanese singer, which shows that us flamencos that are not from Spain can still express our almas flamencas!
What has flamenco given you?
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