More than moves

Whenever I’m in Andalucía,  I’m surrounded by Flamenco, not just in the performances  and  music in bars but in the street, talking to my neighbours, walking to the supermarket. It’s not that everyone is dancing or singing flamenco, although one of the local buskers does a great Camarón: ‘Como El Agua’ It’s the manner of being, the humour, the style.
 I often feel I do my best choreography when I’m there because the smell of the jasmine and orange blossom, mixed in with the cachondeo (humour) and ‘piropos’ (flirtatious complements) brings out the best in me both as a human being and an artist.
Often when I return from practising in a local studio, I join  my neighbours Paqui and Chele  as they sit outside in the evening and talk. They are both mothers and Chele a grandmother, ordinary women who adore their children and honour their parents.  We  have very different lives but we connect with eachother in such an honest and real way. Paqui was saying she’s having trouble losing some excess weight as she’s  starting the menopause but that she still knows how to be ‘provocativa’ for her husband who she adores. She still feels attractive and sensual, feminine and  important, and it made me think how few women in the UK genuinely feel that way after they reach 50. I don’t pretend to speak for every women in the UK but I do know how so many women who come to me to learn flamenco feel invalid, unattractive and unimportant when they lose their youth. It’s is one of the issues I really try to address in my teaching as it is so much an integral part of flamenco, feeling sensual, expressing wisdom and experience and feeling power and strength in one’s body, no matter what age.
Another day, I was telling them how I’m working  on a ‘Caracoles’, a light  alegrias which I’m choreographing with a ‘abanico’ (fan). I borrowed one of the small fans they were using to keep themselves cool and starting to show them some ideas I had.  Afterwards, Chele felt in the mood to sing so she began  in her deep, raspy voice some fandangos. She sang quietly as we were still sitting in the street, but it was so beautiful, so pure, so earthy. It was so flamenco because it wasn’t contrived or artificial, she was with friends and she wanted to sing!
Maybe what I’m trying to communicate is that flamenco dance isn’t just a lot of steps danced in compás and the more steps you learn the better you are. I so want to convey to anyone who really wants to understand flamenco that it is so much more. It is feeling comfortable in your own skin, even if you feel really low and weak. It is allowing yourself  to  be who you are without apology, but also being sincere and genuine. It is expressing humour and sorrow, acnowledging their roles in our lives.

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