Post Albuquerque: Nick as Guest Blogger, Part 2

Better Late Than Never

Greetings fellow flamenco dancers,

Sister told me that some of you have been asking her about the whereabouts of my post. I had no idea that people actually cared about what I have to say. It makes me feel very special! I apologize for dragging my feet on writing this but hey, better late than never. Besides, I have used the weekend to not only rest but also reflect on my week of dancing. Sister has jokingly told everyone that I entered this festival as a boy and have returned home as a dancer. I’m not so sure I completely agree with this and here’s why…

On my first couple of days of dance, I will admit that I felt very frustrated and intimidated in Joaquin’s class. Despite being a beginner’s class, there were a lot of students enrolled who had obviously had some previous experience with flamenco. It was a little annoying seeing people put their legs behind their heads during stretching while I was failing to bend over and grab my tippy toes. It was also quite discouraging not getting the various step sequences while everyone performed them in unison and ALWAYS, I’m serious…ALWAYS, sped them up! Joaquin said that I should go at my own speed but at a certain point, I could not even hear myself stomping my feet and couldn’t continue.

Do you know what else was really irritating? Doing the forward, cross, forward, point walks around the room! For one thing, Joaquin told us that once we walked across the room that we should go to the end of the line, against the wall. I don’t know if some people had a bad sense of space (unlikely) or if they just wanted to continue on and force their way to the front of the line (very likely). I can understand wanting to practice, but when one uses these walking exercises to show off their hand circles, the eyes begin to roll. I was however happy that Joaquin told the class that this particular exercise was to learn the proper technique rather than embellishing (or as I like to call it, showboating).

One thing that I loved about the beginners block is the fact that the last half hour was dedicated to learning palmas. Joaquin brought in Antonio to play some Spanish guitar. At first, he made us mouth along to the sounds that Antonio played. Those phrases were little earworms and on quite a few nights, Sister and I were singing them in the hotel room. It was extremely helpful to sing the sounds and clap along because I now feel that I have a better understanding of how the music (at least for tangos and bulerias) is structured. I also now understand that the notes played on the guitar also send signals to the dancer and that the two sides actually play off of one another. I never knew that everything that goes into the performance serves a purpose and I feel like I have a greater appreciation of the art form. I am curious to see if I pay attention to the subtle cues the next time that I see a flamenco show.

Hmmmm, it seems like I’ve rambled again. Because I don’t want to be lectured about the length of the posts, I think I’ll save my final thoughts for tomorrow (hopefully).

Until next time,

Nick

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