On 44

I’m 44 today!

A year ago today, I wrote about the ultimate birthday gift of Boo moving in and the inspiration that would inevitably come from having a real artist’s studio next to mine. What a wonderful first year of living together it’s been! This man truly inspires me every day — both with his art and with his heart.

But what I’ve learned is that while inspiration can come from Boo or anywhere else, motivation to must come from myself and frankly sometimes it’s just hard to muster.

Later this year I’ll mark the 10 year anniversary of my starting flamenco dancing. I remember thinking a year or two or three in, “Gee, by the time I reach the point of dancing for 10 years, I’m going to be AMAZING!!” Uhhhhh, yeah, not quite. Especially when I’ve taken long breaks in study, and dramatically cut down class attendance and rehearsal time.

It’s not that the love for the dance isn’t there — it is. The challenge for me is finding the motivation to practice even for a few minutes when I’m tired or irritated after work.

Lucky for me we have a show coming up in March, so I MUST practice. Also lucky for me, I live with a man who gets after me ALL THE TIME for not practicing.

But in preparation for the show and trying to get back into the swing of things in my 10th year, I’ve been spending a lot of time on YouTube watching my favorite dancers for ideas and inspiration. I’ll watch something on the computer or phone, then get up and try new steps in my living room. To make this easier for me, Boo got me a Chromecast for my birthday so that I can finally play YouTube on our TV — I know, we were behind the times. But isn’t that sweet of him?

I feel like dancing!

I love how birthdays always pull things into focus for me. Among so many other things, I’m so grateful for this man who takes care of me and always finds ways to nurture and encourage my own artistic dreams. I’m blessed to share a home with him.

I Love My Studio!

Nearly three years since moving into my home, I finally have what I always wanted and what I imagined for this space even before it was officially mine: A home dance studio!

It’s been a process getting to this point. I did almost nothing with the space for about a year because there were too many other things to handle first and no money for extras. A year or so later I bought some matlay with which to cover the hardwood — instant dance floor! The only thing left to buy would be the mirrors, which don’t come cheap. Those would have to wait — until last week.

Long story short, we purchased, picked up, and mounted two 6’x6′ mirrors and now I am LOVING this space!!!


But wait, there’s MORE!

Saturday afternoon Boo turned his attention from his art projects back to my studio to make some enhancements: BAM! Mood lighting!

Super cozy!
The photo doesn’t quite do it justice, but the view looking in from the backyard is quite lovely.

Did I mention how much I love Boo? Not only is he supportive, he’s proactive in making MY studio dreams come true. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.

This guy … seriously. #love

I have goals for more upgrades SOMEday (sprung floor would be ideal) but for a good long while, I am all set.

Now that our creative spaces are good to go, we hope to have our friends visit for an “open-studios” party at some point soon. Juerga, anyone?!

On 43

Thirty days into 2017 and the theme for the year has become clear: adventure.

My birthday weekend began Thursday when I got home butt-late from work, tired and frustrated, only to find a big-ass birthday balloon and flowers from Boo — a “pre-birthday” treat. I wanted to cry, haha! Friday was a full day of fun with my brother, which included ramen noodles, empanadas, two Marie Callender’s pies and LaLa Land — which I loved and he absolutely hated. Arguing about the movie on the way home was half the fun. Saturday was spent having a fat Mexican lunch and a nice visit with Pop. Sunday was spent having a delicious dinner with Mom, other Dad, Bro and Boo at one of my favorite spots. And of course there were presents. How lucky am I?

But the real adventure kicked off today as I helped Boo move the last of his things from his place into mine. That’s right, these two forty-something, insanely independent yet totally compatible love-struck weirdos now share a home. #lifechange

Boo & me at birthday dinner.

Neither of us has ever lived with a significant other so this is a big deal for us both.

Aside from the adjustments of sharing a home, I’m excited about what this will do for my dance game. You see, my incomplete, scarcely used dance studio out back is connected to what is now Boo’s art studio. And Boo is no Johnny-sometimes-artist.

I’ve joked that having my studio next to his will stir friendly competition, or at least healthy guilt-tripping. Like, “I’ve been working on this painting all day … why aren’t you dancing??” Or “Hey, I’ve been dancing for hours. Get out here and work on that painting, or get up and make me a sandwich!!”

Creativity breeds creativity, passion breeds passion. How could I not be inspired to move in the presence of a dedicated artist?

I hope he’ll say the same about me one day.

We ended my birthday evening with a lovely al fresco Greek dinner and talk of what’s to come. And the adventure begins.

Thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes. I love you all!






Hitting Reset

Forgive me, flamencos, for I have sinned. It’s been eight months since my last post.


That’s a record for me so let me tell you what’s going on in my world.

My dance class attendance has been sporadic at best and I’ve had very few flamenco-related things about which to write. As for why I haven’t been in class, well, I’ll tell you and I’m going to be completely honest because I have no shame.

  1. I got bigger and my bata didn’t. When bata classes began early this year, I couldn’t wait to get back into it. I hadn’t put my bata on in a couple of years, so about an hour before class I thought to myself, “Hmmm…maybe I should try this thing on …”. I stepped into it, pulled it over my knees and got it stuck at my hips. I gasped. I twisted, pulled and wiggled into it a little further, but it was still wide open in the back and there was NO WAY I could pull it closed and zip it even a little bit. Nope, wasn’t happening. I might have cried a little bit. So much for that.
  2. I’ve got a basketball jones. In the spring after I lost a few pounds and could squeeze enough of my butt back into my bata to fake it, I went back to class. Ahhhhh, how great it felt to be back! I was uncoordinated and my bata was tight, but I was having fun and it was great to be back with my girls. Unfortunately this was just about NBA playoffs time and I’ve got a duty to my team. My Boo, a lifelong diehard Golden State Warriors fan, managed to get me on the bandwagon and now I AM OBSESSED. I am so obsessed that I plan my life around when the Warriors are playing. I had to come clean to Rina about my Dub-addiction (Dubddiction?) so she wouldn’t think I just didn’t want to go to class anymore. I’m not proud of how I’ve prioritized some things in my life, but hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
  3. Potpourri. The everything-else-that-gets-in-the-way category. The times I got stuck at work late, which have been many over the last year. The times I could have gone to class but I didn’t because I felt so tired and mentally drained after work that I just couldn’t do anything or interact with anyone. The times Thursday had to be date night because that’s just what worked out for me and Boo. The times I missed class to celebrate birthdays or go out of town or visit the family. You know … life.

But back in April, I crawled out of my hole and attended the local Feria de Abril de Los Alamitos, and for the first time ever, sat in the audience and gave jaleo to Rina and my companeras as they performed without me. I didn’t feel bad, though. It felt good to support them. And just being there among all the flamencos, dressed like my friends and with my brother and my boo at my sides, I felt happy and just as much a part of the community as always.

I still have dance goals but life just gets in the way sometimes, or I let it get in the way. But I’ll keep trying. I won’t make any promises, but I’m going to hit reset and see how it goes.


It’s Just Business

I’ve been away from my blog for some time now and it’s been completely intentional. I’ve been busy, but I’ve also been going through an “I don’t want any attention” phase for the second half of this year.  So much so that I invited no one to see me solo at the show I was in a couple of weeks ago. First time EVER I didn’t tell the world I was performing. Didn’t invite my parents, my brother, or even my boo.

I’ve been in work mode lately and this particular show was kind of like a major project on a full production schedule. I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to preparation, so I had to make do with existing knowledge and resources and deliver the best product I could given my limitations. I think I did OK. I did my job, had some fun, got some experience and felt pretty good about it all. And I was grateful for the opportunity.

As much as I love performing and writing about it, my focus has shifted a lot within the last year out of necessity, especially within the last six months. I’ve had to adjust to the joys and realities of home ownership, and manage a busier schedule and new role at work. I’ve felt that expecting to spend any free time dancing or singing or writing was just … indulgent.

I’m learning that I do have a business side that sometimes needs to just get stuff done under the radar. Sometimes I want to be left alone to work. Sometimes I don’t want any attention at all.

Even as I write this, I kind of hate that I’m writing about this. Yes, the girl who has been sharing all of her deepest flamenco feelings and vulnerabilities all these years feels like she’s oversharing. It feels so … unprofessional. Gross.

But despite how all of this sounds, I’m actually in a very good place. I’m happy, content and thankful. And of course I know this phase will pass and I’ll be ready to shine again in no time.

Those B!tches are in ‘Burque without Me

Oh, c’mon … I say that with love. Sort of.

Another year that I am at home while my friends are at the big flamenco festival in Albuquerque — Why, God, WHY?!?!?!? No, I’m kidding. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t make it but I REALLY wanted to go. So did my brother and partner-in-crime from the last trip. He was a flamenco dance virgin before our visit year before last, but jumped into a beginner’s boot camp for fun and ended up loving it — not to mention all of the good friends, amazing shows, great food, etc. ‘Burque as to offer. But oh well, I have some other priorities and he’s got a new job, so it just wasn’t an option this year. But I can’t complain. I’m grateful to have made it there twice and am confident I’ll (WE’LL!) return in the coming years.

I don’t know, it might have even been too much for me to handle right now, anyway. It’s been a weird couple of months. After Juan’s show, I went back to being a regular person, a non-flamenca, and spending more time on other things, which, honestly, was kind of nice. I thought about dancing, but just couldn’t muster the strength. I finally got around to unpacking a few of the boxes still left from my move in December. I finally hung some pictures on the walls of my new home. I had more time for my man, my family, and my couch. I slept in on Saturdays and Sundays. It was amazing.

Still, the nagging little gypsy inside of me wouldn’t entirely shut up. I knew I had to go back … I knew I wanted to go back. And you know what? I went back!

Saturday I went to Rina’s class for the first time in nearly nine months. NINE MONTHS! Sure, I had logged many great dance hours with Juan and crew during my time away, but I still can’t believe I stayed away from my original tribe for that long. I had been away so long that I was kind of nervous about returning: Would it be the same? Would my friends be there? Would there be new faces, a new dynamic? Turns out it would be all of the above. I was greeted by a shocked and happy teacher, many hugs, and the smiling faces of new friends.

The happy red face of a girl who just went to dance class for the first time in nine months (and who is proudly wearing a Golden State Warriors shirt -- Go, Warriors!)
The happy red face of a girl who just went to dance class for the first time in nine months (and who is proudly wearing a Golden State Warriors shirt — Go, Warriors!)

The class is a multi-level technique class and Rina was working in solea — my favorite palo. It was a nice way for me to get back into my groove. I love technique classes because I can focus more on what body is doing rather than remembering choreography, and that’s important. I need this. Because it all comes down to technique, I think. You can learn all the fast footwork and fancy choreo you want, but if your technique is lacking, you’re not going to look great doing it.

So while I’m not in ‘Burque, I’m back in the game at home and couldn’t be happier.

Are you at the festival? Let me know! I’d love to hear about all the wonderful things I’m missing out on — really, I would 🙂

Dancing Tall

It’s Monday and I’m feeling surprisingly great — the show is over and overall it was a huge success!

Saturday was a blur. We gathered at the theater at 1 p.m. for tech rehearsal, a run through with musicians, working entrances/exits, tweaking choreography and all the other odds and ends that come up with this kind of production. Amazing how those hours flew by and suddenly it was 7 p.m and were scrambling to get pretty for the show.

I’m not going to lie — I had some big-ass butterflies. We three back-up dancers were the first to take the stage, so there was definite pressure to kick things off right. But after that number, I felt calm. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that calm in a show. Even coming out to do Sevillanas — a dance for which for whatever reason always makes me tense — I felt so calm. Happy, even. I was loving it!

No need to give a play by play, but there were many highlights of the show — the final one being the fin de fiesta, where I found myself looking around and thinking, “Holy CRAP! I am actually up here with this amazing cast of professionals!” A few years ago I never could have imagined it, and I certainly couldn’t have imagined it six months ago when I seriously considered taking a break from it all.

It was an honor to work with Juan Talavera. I'm a lucky gal!
It was an honor to work with Juan Talavera. I’m a lucky gal!

I learned many things from J.T. over the last few months, but one thing he told me often was to “dance tall.” He’d say things like, “Marissa! Stop pulling yourself in! You look scared … Dance tall … stretch your arms out … hold them high … you’re very tall… use that … it looks beautiful when you dance tall.”

In reality I’m not that tall, although I do have freakishly long arms and I guess I appear tall among a group of petite women. But it’s great advice, both in the physical and figurative sense; like saying “Stand up straight and dance with confidence, woman! Be proud of what you DO bring to the dance.” I know Rina has told as much in the past as well, but somehow J.T. was able to beat it into my head.

So simple, yet so powerful. Dance TALL. Thanks for that, J.T.

And you know, I felt like I DID dance a little taller that night. Not sure how I looked, but I sure felt it. I felt all tall and warm and fuzzy inside.

Backstage right before the first number. We were so excited!

Juan Talavera, thank you for allowing me the honor of performing alongside you. And to all of the other cast members, thank you ALL for being so kind, helpful and fun.

To my sister wenches, Kristine & Nancy: I’m so happy I got to experience this with you! We make a good trio, no?

And a special shout-out to Victoria Romero Koh for hooking me up with J.T. in the first place.

My only regret about all of this is not taking more photos! If anyone has any, I’d love to see them!