Freak Arms & Awkward Body Placement

I haven’t written in a week. I know, lame. You know what else is lame? Me, in class tonight.

Friends ask me what it’s like to take an advanced class. They assume it’s all crazy fast footwork, but that’s not the case at all. Sometimes, like tonight, it’s just the opposite. It’s doing the very slow movements, but with strength, intention, emotion. It’s about learning to wait; to feel and finish each movement completely before rushing off to the next. It’s about generating that silent yet fierce energy that heats up a room and quiets an audience.

But slow dancing ain’t as easy as you may think. Soleá takes incredible control and the ability to twist, stretch and scrunch various parts of the body in ways you just wouldn’t in everyday life. It’s taken me nearly two years to learn to reach up through my rib cage and lift my boob like my teacher says. And while I can do that on its own, doing it within choreography is a different story. These little nuances take serious work.

There are plenty of awkward-body-placement moments in every class — for me, it’s always the arms. My abnormally long arms. Like I always tell my homegirl in class, I constantly feel like one of those windsock-tube-guy things — I don’t know what they’re really called, but you know, those things you see outside of car dealerships, with the funny faces and the spaghetti arms that flap wildly around their heads when a strong breeze rushes through? Yep, that’s me.

But the biggest challenge, I think, is the music. Most of flamenco is unlike anything most of us are used to, and that’s just the instrumental portion. Add the cante on top of that and you’re screwed if you’re a dance novice. It’s a lot to get used to. I find it all crazy beautiful and I love to listen. But while I feel the music in my heart, I’m still waiting for it to permeate all the cells in my feet and long freak arms to help me find enough rhythm to dance one letra.

I have such a long way to go.


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