Reflection, Rhythm and Paco

Today the Facebook feeds of flamencos around the world are blowing up, as we awoke to the news that the great Paco de Lucía had left us.

So of course I’ve been listening to his music, watching his videos on YouTube, and reflecting on the experience of seeing him perform in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, an experience for which I am extremely thankful. (Read my post-Paco blog here). That performance sure stirred up a lot of emotion in me that night and I’m feeling a stirring of things again now …

I’ve been a flighty flamenca. Or it would appear so, anyway. I’m not in dance class as much as I used to be, and I’ve ducked out of guitar lessons altogether. Notice I didn’t say I QUIT guitar. I’ll never quit guitar. I love the music too much and I truly do want to learn; Paco reminded me of that today.

But alas, there are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, and dollars in my purse. I can’t do everything. I tried a year or so ago, and I just couldn’t make it all work. But you know what? I’m OK with that.

In January Rina challenged us to come up with a word that would serve as inspiration and a theme of 2014 (read her post here). I chose RHYTHM to symbolize being in compás, but also to represent an ideal everyday-life groove that keeps me moving and getting things done at a steady pace. Not a fast pace … just a steady, comfortable, continuous beat … beat … beat …

So I remind myself that’s what I’m doing in flamenco. I can’t be in dance class three times a week right now, but I AM going. I can’t take guitar lessons right now, but I COULD pick up my instrument now and then and practice what I know. Slow progress is still progress, right? I don’t have to feel like I’ve fallen behind just because I’ve had to slow my roll. I’m still doing what I love and moving forward.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s suffered the occasional bout of artistic guilt; I’d love get others’ takes on this. Or maybe you’d like to talk about your own Paco experience … Either way, between the news and all the music I’ve listened to today, I’m in the mood for sharing.

Putting The Pieces Together

I spent an hour in the studio today to practice my solo for our student show in September and I’m feeling good! I feel strong and I’m starting to see how the events of the last few months have brought me to this good place.

When Rina announced there would be a show in September, I got nervous. I had pretty much taken off more than a month after my adventure in Albuquerque and I feared it would take me a while to get my body reconditioned. But yesterday in my first classes of this session — a two-hour tientos and bulerias fest — I felt great! The rush of endorphins had me so happy and pumped that I could have danced another two hours. I woke up sore, but that’s to be expected and it didn’t hinder my private rehearsal this morning. I’m back.

That seven-day ass kicking I got in Albuquerque changed me. Of the 10 pounds I lost there, I’ve surprisingly gained back only three, but I had been trying to watch what I eat while taking some time off from dancing. I feel great but give me a couple of weeks and I’ll be back down three to five pounds and feeling even better. My rapid June weight loss, while not ideal, reminded me that I’m a small-boned girl who truly feels better around 125, give or take a pound or two. Yep, that’s my fighting weight. It’s weird how much more stable and balanced I feel on my feet. Who knew a few pounds could make such a difference?

My next solo is a solea and while this scares me a little bit, I feel ready for it. I’ve danced it with a group a couple times and I love this palo. It’s so pretty, emotional. And did I mention it’s the same one I’m learning on guitar? It’s like the solea stars have aligned to allow me to be immersed in this rhythm, experiencing it as both dancer and musician. How perfect is that? I’m going to learn so much. I’m grateful.

Just when I think things might be falling to pieces, the pieces start falling into place. I love when that happens.

On New Love

So much for fireworks. I spent the Fourth of July on my couch independently, with a tummy ache and a guitar.

I’m a little obsessed with my instrument. It’s such a challenge that I tell myself I’ll practice for 30 minutes and before I know it three hours have gone by and it’s 1 a.m. and I’m tired and frustrated and cursing under my breath but I can’t put the damn thing down until I get what I’m practicing right at least once.

I promised myself I wouldn’t have unrealistic expectations with this, but I can’t help it. I like to see progress. I need to see progress. I also don’t want to look super lame next time I have to play for my teacher.

I get so nervous during these private lessons! I don’t know why; Walter is patient and nice, and doesn’t make me feel stupid when I can’t grasp something. It’s just my personal need for the approval of my teacher, I guess. I’m the same way with Rina. I feel like they’ll feel insulted if it appears I’m not trying or I’m unprepared.

When I’m finished with this post, I’ll practice my solea for a while before bed. I’m going to try to limit myself to an hour, but I’m not making any promises.

Since my left foot issues have me semi-sidelined from the dance at the moment, guitar has been a great outlet for my excess flamenco energy. And the feeling I get knowing that someday I’ll be able to play this beautiful music … I can’t describe it. Yes, I like guitar a lot. I might even love it.

Dance is still my first love, but guitar has undoubtedly stolen a little piece of my heart. Sigh.

Distractions

I have my second guitar lesson tonight. Haven’t practiced as much as I would have liked given my busy schedule and having been away for a week, but I’m trying to keep my expectations in check on this goal. This one is gonna take a while. If you’d been at my first lesson, you’d understand why.

Not to mention my head is in 38 different places right now. Dance still tops the list, and now guitar, chorale (for which I’m also designing a website and managing social media), square dancing (shut up), this blogging thing, and a full-time job. And somewhere in all of this, I’m supposed to make time for some kind of personal life. Or so I’m told.

“What’s wrong with you?!” some of you ask. I ask myself the same question sometimes, especially after weeks straight of getting home late and getting up early and being a total zombie because I’m so tired. Or when I neglect responsibilities or people or myself because I’m too busy in a class, or practicing something or daydreaming of how I’d really like things to be.

There are many possible answers to that question. I’ve always loved music and all things artsy, but perhaps I’m experiencing some kind of renaissance and I’m now especially compelled to learn and create. Maybe it’s mid-flamenca-life crisis that’s pushing me to try new things or make up for younger years when I put artistic efforts on hold. I joke about having adult A.D.D … Maybe I truly do need constant and varied stimulation to stay focused. Or maybe being on continuous go leaves no time to be upset, worried and pissed off about the things that typically upset me, worry me or piss me off.

Choose the answer(s) you feel are most accurate.