Video: Happy Feet

This week I’ve focused on cleaning up some footwork in my alegrias, which got me thinking: I remember a couple of years ago, maybe less than that, I couldn’t do this step at all without fudging it every time. My feet just wouldn’t move that way. While my technique and speed aren’t where I’d like them to be yet, I’m happy with how far I’ve come since then. It’s stuff like this I need to remember when I get down on myself. I’m doing ok.

A Sunday Night on the Couch

Yesterday, after my regular classes, I did a private lesson with Rina to work on the alegrias I’ll be doing in our student show next month. I’ve been frustrated with my progress and nervous about the show, but spending this extra time with her has helped calm me down.

I’d probably do privates every week if I could because I always come away with some bit of wisdom that makes me go, “Ohhhhhhhhh! Like THAT. I get it!” It’s often something she’s said a thousand times in class, but never clicked until that one-on-one moment, for whatever reason. I had a couple of those moments yesterday.

It’s amazing how the seemingly simplest modifications can make a difference in a performance. A misplaced foot or stray arm can throw everything off, especially if you’ve got long wild limbs like mine. Rina’s great at spotting the weird things I do and showing me how to fix them. So I brought everything I learned yesterday to my personal rehearsal time today and I felt much better about what I saw in the mirror. Perfect? Not even close. But much, much better.

I’ve got a couple of weeks to do as much clean-up as I can, so I’ll certainly be in the studio a lot. The biggest challenge will be keeping myself healthy — keeping stress to a minimum, getting enough sleep and keeping my body strong. Right now I’m stretched out on the couch, sore as heck. Thankfully I’ve got a date with the massage therapist tomorrow. I sure do need it.

I really wanted to get out, be sociable and see some flamenco this weekend, but my body wasn’t having any of it. I’m so tired, for lots of reasons. Probably the best thing I could do was stay in and rest. It was a good weekend, though. I made progress and because of that I’ll sleep well tonight.

Insanity and Perpetual Alegrias

Today after a 90-minute solo rehearsal, I came down with a case of the crazies. Kind of a hopeless, helpless feeling that comes from being unsure of my choreography and feeling terribly disappointed in how I look performing it.

It’s not that I haven’t practiced enough. No, I know the dance well. This is just what I do before every performance.

I’m not an obsessive perfectionist in real life. My apartment gets cluttered, my work space is a mess, and I’m an Olympic-class daydreamer who puts off real-life duties when fantasies are more engaging. But in my flamenco world, I’m a compulsive nut. Give me a choreography, especially a solo piece, and it becomes the focus of every waking thought. I want it to be perfect.

This is impossible for many reasons. First, I’m still a student with a lot to learn. Second, I can’t physically dance the way I’d like to because I’m not yet fully conditioned to do so. Finally, I’m not a flamenca fembot; I’m human and sh!t happens. I need to learn to deal with that.

But still I panic. I freak out. I might even cry just a little bit, sometimes. Then I retire to my couch for awhile to try to pull myself together before I head off to the next rehearsal.

I know, alegrias is supposed to be happy. It will be again tomorrow, I think. I just need to sleep it off. Goodnight.

Happy in my Angst

I look kinda angsty here, no?

I like Thursdays because I get to do tarantos. This session is the first time I’ve experienced it and I have to say I like it a lot. I wasn’t sure about it at first because it’s a hard rhythm to hear, but now that I’ve become better acquainted with it and have had a chance to dance to it a bit, I’m totally feeling it.

But let’s back up for a sec. Tonight was a bit manic-depressive, in the best possible way. In the first class, our technique class, we continued working on an alegrías footwork we started last week. Very challenging stuff. I was more focused on getting the steps and corresponding arm placements than bringing the festive attitude the dance requires. Also, it’s just harder to look like you’re having fun when you’re unsure of your next move.

In the second hour, we moved on to tarantos. It’s not a lighthearted dance. It’s a one of those dig-deep-and-find-your-pain-and-show-it-to-the-world dances. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I really love those.  I mean, I haven’t met a palo I didn’t like, but I’m especially drawn to the angry/painful/sorrowful ones. I guess we’re all moved by different things. I imagine that some people come alive when they hear a happy tune. I do too, of course, but not the way I do when I hear a downer. There’s something about hearing something very sad or intense that grabs me by the throat and stops my breath … especially in flamenco. The wailing … oh, the wailing. That powerful yet languishing voice that pierces the ears and shocks the heart. It always startles me and quiets me for a moment. How can I not feel it?

In this dance, you’ve really got to feel it because sometimes it’s just too hard to count it. You have to be present in the music, instead of in your own head, counting, in order to do it justice. This is what we learned tonight.  And when Rina reminded us to dig deep and find our angst and bring it, well, we brought it.