I guess you could say I was kind of consumed with fear during my time in Jerez. I did things anyway, but I also didn't do things. Below is an excerpt (with some side notes) written during my first week alone there. For those who are new to this blog, I had been in Jerez a couple of weeks before for the Festival. After a brief trip to Portugal, I headed back. I arrived on Friday the 25th and began my search for classes.
Prior to leaving for Spain I knew who I wanted to take from and had names of studios and phone numbers; I even had an idea of when some of the classes were offered. Sí! I had done my research, I promise, as best as I could from Portland, Oregon...I had to for the RACC grant. And during the festival I got an idea of where the studios were located. But I had yet to figure out the class times. Could I have done more to determine this earlier in the month? Perhaps. But figuring out where and when things happen in that town is not as easy as one might think…
Monday, March 28 I walked around Barrio San Miguel this morning seeking information on classes as emails and phone calls had yet to provide me with any information. And I wonder right now, Why do I feel so scared? How is it possible that I still seem to have the exact same fears in 2011 that I had when I came to Spain for the very first time in 1998 not knowing a thing about flamenco? Surely I should feel better by now about coming here and no longer be so scared to set my foot into a studio and take a class. What does this say about me? How much has it held me back? And when will I stop letting it get in the way?
Anyway, I found Peña los Cernícalos, with the sign, "Abierto todos los dias." Hmm, except today? I rang the bell. No answer. Called the phone number. No answer. At least now I know where it is.
I headed on to Chiqui de Jerez's studio to see if anyone would be there to confirm the class times I'd seen online. Though I had been right there during the festival taking a workshop with Chiqui's daughter, she couldn't tell me a thing at that time about when regular classes were. "Para eso te tienes que llamar despues del festival," Everything was too crazy and busy right then she told me. Claro, why ever would I desire now, with all that was going on, to know what would be happening in a couple of weeks?
Anyhow, on the way I discovered another studio, saw dancers standing outside talking. Too frightened to go by and ask about classes, I continued on to Chiqui's.
Passing by Peña la Bulería my fear continued to grow. At the same time I felt relief as it appeared I was not going to have any opportunity to take classes this morning considering how late it was getting…
I got to Chiqui's studio and rang the bell. Out of the inner gate poked what appeared to be a sweaty Domingo Ortega. "Sí?" he said. I asked for Chiqui. He said he didn't know where she was and didn't know anything about when classes were. But did I want her phone number? "Tienes su movil?" I asked. "Sí," so, he went in to get it for me. After awhile he came back apologizing for not having opened the gate to let me in and for making me wait while he changed. I thanked him and left wondering if I should have confirmed with him that he was in fact Domingo Ortega and given him some kind of compliment or at least recognized who he was.
Later that night I called Diana back in Portland on Skype. Thank goodness for friends. I needed more than anything that evening to talk to someone who knew me, to experience the warmth of a familiar voice. Coincidentally Diana happened to be chatting with Domingo on Facebook at the time…And it had indeed been him at Chiqui's earlier. She said I should take a private from him. Talk about scary, No Way!
I decided to go back by Los Cernícalos on the off chance that someone would be there.
I turned onto la Calle Curro Fuerte and saw a plaque on a building saying, "Aquí nació La Paquera de Jerez." Rather than allow myself to feel excitement upon being right there in this historical flamenco barrio, I focused on the overwhelming feeling that I didn't belong...
Still, I decided to walk back down the street of the other dance studio, the one the dancers had been standing outside of minutes earlier and investigate it further. The sign on the building said it was Mercedes Ruíz's school. It was quiet inside, and the door was ajar, so I went in. The student who was there cleaning gave me the low-down on the classes. Her telling me that there were really no levels did not exactly help with my whole fear issue.
I went on to the peña and still no one there. So, I called. No answer. And so I headed back to Barrio Santiago to try Patricia Ibañez's studio once again. From one flamenco neighborhood to the next. On the way there I got a call back from Chiqui; there was indeed a class tonight I could go to.
I arrived at Patricia's studio, and nobody was there however this time I did get a response to my phone call. Patricia sounded nice and gave me the class options. I felt a bit better, and home I went.
And here I am, back in the the apartment. I want to move, to dance, but I'm so scared to do it here in Spain, in a class full of people, in front of a teacher from here who knows so much and dances so well and is flamenco in and out. Feeling like I should know so much more at this point. Argh! How do I still feel this way? Don't I know more now? Shouldn't I be in a different place? I guess I am, but why is it not enough?
Flamenco is good for me. It forces me to take risks and face my fears. It seems slowly to be helping me to overcome them. More experiences in Jerez to come and more on the issues and feelings this crazy art form brings up for me and about the lessons it teaches me.
In the meantime, what about you? Your fears? Any that prevent you from doing the things you want to do? How do you deal with them? How do you approach going a new class? Or even new experiences in general? Leave a comment here.