Me & Big B.

It’s been a few weeks since I began working with the bata (a.k.a. “Big Girl” or “Bianca” ) and I think it’s going well. Our relationship has definitely improved since day one, when she was either biting my ankles or simply refusing to cooperate. No, I think we’ve developed a good rapport and understanding: I treat her right and she does what she’s supposed to do.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. Flamenco is challenging in itself, but then try dragging a few pounds of fabric behind you and see what happens. The first two classes were filled with all kinds of ridiculousness, but I think we’ve all since found our basic bata bearings and we’re actually able to dance, at least a little. It’s all very exciting! Watching us all in the mirror with all of these lovely, colorful trains behind/alongside us, I can imagine how fiercely gorgeous we’ll look in performance someday. Someday.

One tough thing about learning bata is you need adequate space in which to practice. I can’t put this thing on in my dinky living room and kick it around, and I haven’t had time (or funds) to get to the studio. But I’ve taken a cue from a reader who says she’s doing bata-mime until she can get a Big Girl of her own. Don’t be surprised if you catch me in phantom bata doing odd squat-kicks in the ladies’ room at work or in line at the grocery store. It’s important to get the technique down, so I gots to get my practice in whenever and however I can.

All in all, I LOVE bata and I think bata might love me.

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.

Hello, Bata!

My first bata.

Tonight I crashed the tientos class for a couple of reasons: First, I missed one of my Saturday classes and I needed to do a make up, and second (and more importantly), I wanted to show Rina my new … (*drumroll*)… bata!

Oh, the bata. Bata de cola, that is. The long-trained, many-ruffled skirt that requires a unique skills set and a different kind of courage. Do it right (like Rina!) and it’s gorgeous. Do it wrong and, well, not so much.  I’ve yet to have a bata experience, but Rina’s going to offer a class in the fall and I wanted to be prepared.

My bata arrived in the mail today. When I pulled it out of the box, the first thing I thought was, “OMG … it’s so long!!” Uh, duh, it’s a bata. Then I thought, “OMG… this is fantastic!” And it is quite lovely, really; this great black beauty. Very dramatic. I immediately took off my sundress and slipped it on. Then I proceeded to dance, in bra and bata, around my small apartment living room. I don’t know the proper bata technique, but I kicked the train around best I could. I knocked a few knick-knacks off a low shelf …

It looked pretty and fit well, but its weight didn’t overwhelm me, which was a concern. I had a feeling Rina would say it was too light — and she did. Bummer. But she did say it was beautifully made, and I agree. And I think it will be ok for my initial bata training. If, somewhere down the road, I need to take it in for a little cosmetic surgery — a bata augmentation, if you will — that’s ok. I’m just happy I have something to work with in the meantime. I’m so eager to get started in bata class!

But the arrival of the bata has also motivated me. I have my ups and downs in terms of my health and fitness; sometimes I’m very health conscious, and sometimes I can’t get enough french fries. Today I felt like crap. I was so tired and everything on my body just hurt. My back was killing me, I had pain in my hips and I felt so run down. Like I’m all inflamed on the inside. It’s times like this when I realize I need to take better care of myself. Eat better. Sleep more than four hours a night. (Stop blogging about flamenco into the wee hours of the morning!) Get strong for my health and for the dance.

Yes, I need to get healthier. Thanks, bata, for reminding me.