You *must* be disciplined to dance flamenco. You must practice consistently and diligently. If not, then you must not truly love flamenco and have the passion that it takes to dance it with any proficiency.
Did reading that just suck the life and joy out of you? No kidding! I feel deflated having written that!!
Recently, a member of my Online Flamenco Studio wrote that she felt frustrated for not practicing everyday like she said she would. She felt that she was letting herself down because of it.
Now, you can look at it one way. Yes, if she had promised herself she would practice everyday, then she should honor that promise. She would have felt amazing having practiced everyday.
OR you can think, that’s one hell of a promise that seems pretty easy to set yourself up for failure.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you do want to get better, you have to practice. You’ll never be proficient if you don’t put in the work. Learning flamenco is just like learning a musical instrument or learning a language. Those hours of work count!
So, how do you want to look at the practice? As something you “should” do or something you do to bring you joy? It’s usually a slight adjustment to how you think about it that will make the biggest difference.
How can you make your practice more joyful?
How can you think of your flamenco practice more an act of devotion or personal commitment rather than something you “should” do?
How can you plan your practice to be more consistent?
How can you schedule your practice so it’s realistic?
Is the amount of practice you’re doing really not enough for improvement?
These are questions only you can answer! The word discipline, for me, implies a work ethic, something you need for a task that isn’t very enjoyable.
However, flamenco is art and art is a creative process. We love flamenco because of the passion that it stirs inside of us. But just like we can’t always be happy, we can’t always be “passionate” enough or “disciplined” enough to practice flamenco. We have natural peaks and valleys in life. Sometimes we’ll practice everyday, especially if there’s a show, and we love it. Other times, we just need a rest and allow our bodies and minds to recuperate.
Don’t worry! Even though you may be taking some time off, you are still integrating all that you’ve learned! We talk about suffering for art, but the self-flagellation from not practicing enough just won’t help here!
Instead, look at the whole picture. How often are you *actually* practicing? Then, are you practicing intelligently? Are you doing footwork drills slowly and articulately using solo compás? When practicing a choreography, do you understand the different parts of the dance and hitting all the accents with the body? You can go in the opposite direction as well by practicing a whole bunch of *stuff* and not really having anything to show for it because you lacked not necessarily discipline, but a solid plan.
So, what’s the bottom line? We don’t need discipline. We need joy, love, commitment, devotion, and sometimes some REST!