Three days after our show at Sangria, I’m finally able to write about it. But I’m glad I’ve been too busy to write the last few days because the extra time I’ve had to reflect on everything has given me enhanced perspective.
The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I was last year, at least not immediately. I remember last year I was sweating and feeling like I was going to barf during the drive to the venue. But not this time. And during the opening number, the Sevillanas with mantón, even though I screwed up the second copla, it was merely because I had an unfortunate brain fart. Nerves were not a factor.
My second appearance in the show was my solo. As I watched my fellow flamencas finish their tangos, that’s when the nerves kicked in. “Oh sh*&! I’m next!” I thought, as I ducked into the back hallway near the restroom to stomp out my escobilla one last time — as if one high-speed, half-ass run-through would ensure a solid performance. It did help a bit, but when I heard my music start and took my first steps on the floor, my knees were shaky. Oh God, it’s amateur hour again. But once I got through my llamada successfully, I felt much better, much more steady.
One of the most difficult things for me to do during a solo is to ignore the play-by-play commentary that goes through my head. Things like, “Oh, my arms should have been out during that turn” or “Oh sh&%! Footwork coming up!” or “Oh God, I just realized I’m making the ugliest face right now!” running through my head do little to enhance my performance. But I’m getting better at tuning out those voices. I think it comes with experience because there were a few moments when I was so taken by Ana’s cante that I forgot all about me. It was amazing.
The footwork remains a challenge because I’ve made it out to be such a huge deal in my own head. It’s kind of like the math portion of a test for me, if that makes sense. Like, back in my high school days, I always loathed and feared math because I’m a writer. But in reality, I did equally well in the math and English portions of the SAT. What I’m getting at is, there’s no reason for me to freak out every time I get to the footwork portion of my dance. It’s at the right level for me and it’s nothing I can’t handle. This time, the nerves made my feet a little unsteady, but I actually did fine. Much better than in December, I think.
My performance wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but overall I was pleased. I’ve improved since the winter and that makes me feel good. I think the main take-away from this performance is that I’ve become much more comfortable working with musicians. I mean, there’s a singer and guitarist behind me and the accompaniment might not be exactly what I expected, but nothing is a complete surprise. I know my job and I’ve come to understand their jobs better, you know? I know that it’s not all about me, and if I screw up (which I did), they’re gonna keep going and I have to quickly adjust my game plan and keep going with them. Last year this concept scared me. This time, not as much. I made mistakes, but covered them and kept going. I even did bulerías por fiesta, and I hadn’t practiced that in months. And it wasn’t terrible. I went out, I did something, did a little bit of a dance stutter at one point, but whatever, I kept going. It was all good. It was fun.
The whole experience has left my head swirling with ideas for how I want to proceed with my flamenco studies. More on that later.
I don’t have any video from the show, but here’s a short clip from the rehearsal the night before…