My brother calls this my “Black Swan” picture. Something about my eyes, my expression and how the mantón is draped over my raised arm making it look like a black-feathered wing. I thought it was totally random and funny when he said this, but then I kinda saw it, too. Which got me thinking …
My relationship with my mantón has changed drastically since I first got it. When it arrived, I was terrified of it. I thought I made a huge, costly mistake in ordering this massive black beast that had to be wrangled, wrestled and scalped before I could even begin dancing with it. And when I finally got it to class, its sheer weight and momentum knocked the wind out of me and nearly dragged me down a few times. This thing had a mind of its own. Would it ever behave? Could I ever be one with the blanket of death?
There were many trials and tangles, but I made it through the cantiñas with mantón choreography in the December shows and by the time it was over, I kind of loved the beast. So much so, I was eager to continue dancing with it in Rina’s sevillanas with mantón class.
Now, granted, the cantiñas experience was tough because I was learning a brand-new choreography and working with a shawl (and a heavy-ass shawl, at that) for the first time. With sevillanas, it’s different because I already knew all four coplas going into it. That knowledge coupled with my previous mantón experience has made the sevillanas class so much more fun than I expected. I love that class!
I can control the beast much better than I ever imagined I could. I know just how much force I need to use to get it to obey. I also get a sense of satisfaction knowing I can do a dance and twirl a heavy shawl at the same time, when just a couple years ago, I didn’t have the coordination to do arm movements with my sevillana steps. I love realizing I’ve made progress!
Plus, I generally love all things girlie and the mantón is just so feminine and elegant. I love looking in the mirror in class and seeing my compañeras and myself in beautiful swirls of color. I often catch myself smiling in class. The other day, Doña Guajira, who dances on the opposite side of the studio, said that she can tell that I’m enjoying myself because of the way I handle the shawl. It’s probably because I’m flinging this thing around with a dopey grin on my face, but that’s ok. It’s a compliment. I truly enjoy the dance and I’m glad it shows.
So, it seems I have become one with the beast — just not in the sinister, creepy-obsessive, death-by-dance Black Swan way. No, it’s all happy endings here.