Dear Bulerias Beginner: It Does Get Better

Doña Guajira and I missed Saturday classes a couple weeks ago, so tonight we crashed Rina’s intermediate bulerias class.  We both took this class for the first time about a year and half ago.  But we’re by no means bulerias masters yet, so this was a nice review — and a very different experience this time around.

Back in January 2010, when we began our journey por fiesta, Doña, myself and the rest of our cohort were terrified of being pushed into that bulerias circle. I dreaded being called out first because, shit, I had no clue what I was doing and I couldn’t even count to 12. I remember hearing the compás as chaotic beats, arbitrary strums and frenzied clapping that left me both frantic and dumbfounded when it was my turn to improvise. Half the time I’d just stand there and curse.

By this time, I had been a flamenco student for about a year and a half and I was getting very discouraged. I thought, “Holy crap, flamenco was already hard. Now I have to do THIS?!?!” But I wasn’t the only one. We all struggled. We’d all freeze sometimes. We’d all trip over our feet, fall out of rhythm or stop dancing before Rina stopped singing.

Slowly but surely, though, we all had our little breakthroughs. We started to recognize the patterns. We could hear the cante rise and fall, and subsequently figured out where to put our desplantes.  Oh, what a feeling it was to be able to get through a simple buleria without dropping the f-bomb!

But being truly comfortable with this little dance comes with time. My compañeras and I have come along way, but we still have a long way to go before we can bust out bulerias the way Rina does.  THAT is the goal. But man, it sure does take work. It takes a ton of practice, a figurative bag full of tricks and the confidence to get out there and dance your gypsy ass off.

The ladies I danced with tonight are waaaaayyyy better than we were at that point in our bulerias training.  For our show last month, they performed a bulerias choreography, which was a great foundation for learning to improvise. As frustrated as they sometimes seemed tonight, they have no idea how far ahead they are and how well they’re doing.

To all you ladies who were in class tonight:  You’re making great progress and you all looked great.  Sometimes you’ll get frustrated. Sometimes you’ll want to give up.  And you might drop a few f-bombs along the way. But hang in there and keep at it because, trust me, it DOES get better. And when December rolls around and it’s time to perform again, you’ll all be excited about showing off por fiesta.


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