Bata: The Gitana’s ThighMaster

It’s Sunday evening and I’m taking a quick blogging break from the couch I’ve been parked on most of the day. I got a little practice time in this morning, but for the majority of the day I was pumped full of  ibuprofen and propped up on my favorite piece of furniture. It’s not my fault. I blame it on Bata.

Yesterday was my first experience with the bata de cola (that blue thing I’m wearing in the photo).  Beautiful, yes, but this little ruffled monster isn’t easy to maneuver. I thought the mantón was a beast, but damn … the bata presents a completely different set of challenges.

With the mantón, I was never afraid I was going to trip over it. With the bata, it’s a constant concern.  Its train is long, as you can see, and it requires a tremendous amount of skill and strength to move it around properly.  Depending on which way you want it to move, you’ve got to lift your leg out and back or back and out (at least that’s what I’ve learned so far), and believe me, it ain’t as easy as it sounds.

You see, Bata is a big, big girl. She’s heavy. She’s wide. And if you measured her from waist to tip, she might be taller than me. My pretty plus-sized girl. Hefty, yes, but she requires a delicate touch. A commanding yet gentle lift and she’ll go willingly and fall gracefully at my feet. A haphazard clumsy kick to her underskirt and she’ll grab hold of my heel and won’t let go till I stumble.

Today I’m feeling the hour’s worth of bata leg lifts we did yesterday. My buns and thighs burn like hell and my lower back isn’t much better. Oh God, it hurts. I guess that means I was doing it right, or at least trying my best to. But I know it’s just part of getting used to a new prop and in a few weeks my body will be used to working with the Big Girl, just like I got used to working my arms and back with the mantón and the castanets.

And now, more Advil.

5 thoughts on “Bata: The Gitana’s ThighMaster

  1. Hi Marissa

    I just found your blog as I was searching for Bata De Cola info. I am a fellow Flamenco student (in Canada) just about to start my first few tentative steps in a Cola.

    Love the videos. Nice to see someone going through the same journey!

    Best of luck with the dancing 🙂

    1. Hi Rachel!
      Thanks so much! It’s always exciting to hear from other dancers who can identify with my experience. Stay tuned– there will be more videos 🙂

      Yeah, bata is fun, but it also makes me feel like I’m starting all over again. Yesterday’s class was pretty comical, really. I’m so uncoordinated in that thing. But I’m determined to make it work. And I do love a challenge.

      Good luck with your studies as well. And I’d love to hear about your bata experience so please keep in touch!

      Marissa

      1. I will be following your blog with interest; Will definitely keep reading.

        I’m sure you’ll pick up the technique quickly, it’s just getting used to it (I hope anyway).

        Unfortunately I have to wait a few weeks to get my cola. At the moment (in class) we are just miming 😀

  2. Marissa!
    Just a quick bit of advice because you mentioned your lower back hurting —
    Be really, really sure you are not arching your lower back ever, and keep your abdominals engaged at all times! Your lower back should never hurt from bata de cola work. Thighs — yes. Lower back — no.

    Maybe do a set of sit ups before class to remind those muscles to stay alert.

    We have got to get together sometime to do some posture/core work!

    In the meantime, Ole! Bata de cola is my favorite. Always remember that she is your trusted friend. Meaning, if you put your trust in her, she will reward you many times over.

    Have fun,
    Coco

    1. Thanks for your advice and wisdom, Coco! In fairness to my budding bata technique, I went to class with a sore lower back — which had nothing to do with dancing and everything to do with sitting in a desk chair behind a computer ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. Ugh. I’m feeling better, though, and have been doing my side/back leg lifts in preparation for my next class…

      My “trusted friend”, huh? I like that! I guess I just need to spend a little more time with her to develop that bond 🙂

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