- Do you wonder whether it’s more important to pay the utility bill or buy flamenco shoes?
- Have you ever wanted to cry while listening to a Siguirilla?
- Have you ever danced a buleria while brushing your teeth?
- Do you practice footwork while waiting in line anywhere?
- Do you say OLE to your kids after finishing homework?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, it’s safe to say that the flamenco bug has bitten you.
But are YOU truly a FLAMENCO? What does that even MEAN? People are always being described as “muy flamenco” and that usually implies either that they live and breathe flamenco or their dance styling is very gritty, very gitano. Or on the other end, someone can say, “no es muy flamenco,” meaning that they’re an “imposter” or just not very good. Ouch.
So, what do you have to do to call yourself flamenco? Do you have to have a complete flamenco lifestyle? Does that mean that your partner is also a flamenco? Can we as non native flamenco dancers even call ourselves “flamenco” if we weren’t born into it?
I don’t know.
I call myself flamenca because I do live and breath flamenco even though I’m not hanging out all the time with the other flamencos outside of my dance classes. I’d like to, but I have kids and my bed time is early 🙂
I’m thinking of all this because I recently saw a video clip of La Chana. She was a prominent dancer back in the 60’s and 70’s and was featured in the Peter Sellers’ movie “The Bobo.” I remember being completely captivated and enthralled by her dance scene in the Sellers movie. I saw it during my belly dance days before I even started my flamenco journey.
Anyway, the video clip that I recently saw of La Chana was actually a trailer for a documentary that is being made of her. (Here is a link to the indiegogo campaign for it.) Her dance career was cut short because of her abusive husband and the documentary tells her story of survival, perseverance and empowerment. But what struck me most in the trailer was how she described her dancing.
“It’s like a labyrinth. When you are deep inside yourself, and you feel your strongest yearnings, your innermost desires, a labyrinth with many doors appears. Behind one there are pearls, behind another diamonds. Behind another sapphires and emeralds. What am I going to do? A diamond step? But because I finish on beat, whatever I do is fine. Now I’m going through another door and it’s a world of light and color. I’m doing what I want. I’m brave. My confidence in the beat makes my abilities obey my soul.”
Pure poetry. I just screamed in my head, “Uff, que flamenca! YES! I KNOW! I want to feel that, too!” I could never describe myself or flamenco using that beautiful and powerful imagery. I’d feel like such a melodramatic poser. But from her, in her own words and expressions, it was transformative, honest & from the core.
And it MOVED me. I could never say what she said in such a poetic manner, but I can definitely FEEL it and be TOUCHED by it. It also expresses what we as dancers hope to achieve along our flamenco journey, the freedom and confidence to express ourselves in ways we can’t do otherwise.
That’s my goal. So that’s why I’m flamenca.