The Reappearance of La Llorona

As a wee one, I was a crybaby. I was the kid who’d instantly burst into tears after getting a mild scolding from mom. If I got picked on at school, my face would get hot and turn red as I fought back the tears that would eventually come anyway. And if, on rare occasion, I made anyone cry, I’d cry even more. I guess I am a sensitive soul.

I’ve spent the last 20 years or so resisting and repressing this trait, but I’m finding it more difficult lately. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and the crazy lady hormones are finally kicking in. (THIS really makes me want to cry.) Still, I’ve become quite good at shutting off my emotions in upsetting social situations so I don’t turn into a weepy mess. Good thing, too, because my crybaby face ain’t pretty. It’s embarrassing.

But whatever, I’m done fighting it: I’m a sensitive crybaby. It’s who I am. And this applies not only in my relationships with people, but in my relationships with the arts as well.

I admit that sometimes in choir practice, certain songs will strike me in such a way that makes my vocal chords twist into knots; I’m so overwhelmed either by lyrics or a particular chord created by the blending of 90 voices that I need to stop and catch my breath. It happens often, yet always takes me by surprise.

The same is true of flamenco. Especially flamenco. The genre as a whole, I think, is particularly stirring and can send you into a fit of musical manic-depression. It’s fantastic. The highs are high and the lows are way low. You don’t even need to speak Spanish to be moved by the cante because the underlying emotion is so powerful. I understand very little, but a good solea or siguiriya breaks my crybaby heart every time. A dancer’s interpretation of the song can evoke strong emotion as well, but there’s something particularly personal and vulnerable about a single voice crying out a ballad of sorrow and loneliness. There’s nothing to hide behind.

By now, you’re thinking I’m overly sensitive and a little nutty, and I’m sure both are somewhat true. And that’s ok. Because what I’m starting to realize is that these characteristics are an asset when learning the dance; the dancer should feel the music and letra or the performance isn’t going to be believable. So now all I need to do is harness the emotions and bundle them up with kick-ass technique, which I’m hoping will come in time if I keep at it…

Yes, it seems flamenco is the perfect place for a crybaby like me.

Bulerías y Bach

Sing out loud, sing out strong.
Before I was a dancer, I was a singer. I’ve been singing anything and everything since I could speak. I have mainly my mom to thank for this; there was always music in the house, all kinds. Mostly oldies of the ’50s and ’60s, and the ’70s is still my favorite decade for music probably because it’s my first memory of current music on the radio. And in the ’80s and ’90s, I went through my Madonna phase, the new wave phase, hip-hop, gangster rap, grunge, punk, alternative/goth (which mom called my “forces of darkness” phase) latin, a little metal, you name it. As much as I hate to admit it, I even like some old school country. I rarely discriminate when it comes to music and I can never listen to just one kind in one sitting. Call it Musical ADD, if you will. Take a look at my iPod and you’ll see what I mean. Continue reading “Bulerías y Bach”