We all wish we were gifted with starting flamenco in the womb, being born into a flamenco family with the art in our blood.
But for most of us, that is just not the case.
We become immersed in this wonderful art form and culture by choice and not by circumstance. Although we can argue that we had no choice because flamenco calls us and we just MUST have it.
We even badger ourselves for not having discovered it sooner in our lives. Or even worse, never dedicating our time to it even if we wanted to. Why? So many reasons. Mundane ones like not having any quality teachers near us. Not enough time because of work and family.
But the most heart wrenching reason is if we feel we don’t deserve to do it or we’re afraid to do it. We know that it takes courage to look at ourselves in the mirror while we dance. And we’re afraid to see that we don’t measure up to the image in our head of how we should look dancing. So we don’t even try.
But what happens when you do, when you finally answer that call? You begin to peel back layers and layers to expose the real you that you’ve been hiding. Flamenco does that to you. You can only dance it if you’re ready to let go of the monkey talk in your head, “Oh, I shouldn’t dance because I’ll never be good enough.”
Really? Do you WANT to dance? Then DANCE!
We all start from zero and have to accept that we are all on different stages of the flamenco journey. But there is no end game in flamenco. You don’t dance it for 10 years and say, “Well, I’ve learned everything there is to learn.” We’re not like Nemo in the Matrix, “I know Judo.” There’s never a time we can say, “I KNOW flamenco. I’m good now.”
Yes, there are actual technical milestones that you hit as a dancer going through the levels. Such as new beginners get tangled up learning the 12 count. Beginner students are trying to get their footwork to stay in compás. Intermediate dancers are trying to understand the structure of the dance. Advanced dancers are trying to learn to improvise and get more powerful movements.
But the REAL milestones are more personal, more in the mind, in the way you SHOW UP to dance, in the way you ALLOW yourself to be SEEN. And honestly, I think that level of confidence fluctuates. Somedays you feel good and come to the dance with full force. Other days, our reserves are low, we’re emotionally fragile and it might show in the way we dance. But another way to look at our fragile ego or emotions is that flamenco has a way to empower us no matter how we look or feel.
For those of us who have been dancing flamenco for years and years and maybe have not reached the level of expertise that we hoped for by now, *this* is the real work for us. We have to remember our WHY.
When I was much younger, I was drawn to flamenco for its passion, and dancing it allowed me to express myself in ways that I couldn’t verbally. It empowered me in my otherwise (what I felt then) powerless life. Now, flamenco gives me a sense of purpose, community and courage. It continues to empower and heal me.
That’s what flamenco does. It empowers us. It centers us. It moves us. It heals us. It gives us the courage to step up into our own power.
So, remember THAT when you don’t really want to practice or it might be too much trouble to find a baby sitter for class or you could easily go home and sit on the couch exhausted after work instead of going to class.
Remember it’s the journey, never ending, continuous, empowering, nourishing.