My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear, not trusting my instincts. It's no different from my main obstacle in life. It is what makes me so indecisive. No wonder bulerías has always been so hard for me...I don't trust. Wah! This realization was profound. In a moment I'll share with you some things I've come to know about bulerías…things that have made it easier, less scary to dance. (There is also a Workshop coming up where we'll cover this in-depth...) The truth is, now I kind of can't get enough of bulerías. It is not that the fear has been eradicated completely, but the excitement and fun usually push it off to the side now. Gracias excitement and fun.
So, I used to haaaaate bulerías (while secretly loving it.)
You see, I had long been intrigued, even before I knew what a bulería was. Prior to my first trip to Spain, before I really knew anything about flamenco, I somehow developed the idea that I would arrive, walk around in search of flamenco, encounter a group of gypsies who would then make me get in a circle with them and force me to just go out and dance, by myself, in front of them. I am thinking my mind might have begun developing this idea upon seeing the Bulerías de Jerez at the beginning of Carlos Saura's movie Flamenco. I did not know what in the world it was, but Holy Moly, what these people were doing captivated and completely scared me! By the way, I saw this movie just before heading to Spain…the first full flamenco movie I had ever seen. I know, I could have done more homework. Instead I was left wondering what in the world I had been thinking. This was totally different from that first video of the academy in Spain that I had seen two years earlier, the video that planted the flamenco seed in me in the first place.
Anyway, so then I went to Spain, and in one of my classes we started doing this thing called bulerías. And it was so hard! I couldn't stand it, yet I loved it. You see, I loved watching the teacher do it. I loved the attitude, the sassiness, the cuteness, the rhythms, the uniqueness… But I was BAFFLED, totalmente perpleja! And there wasn't even any cante. Not only did all of the moves seem completely awkward, but the rhythm was nuts, and everything happened so fast. In turn I decided that this dance simply was not for me. Primarily because it seemed impossible. And, really, I had plenty of other palos creating enough confusion for me already.
So, I was turned off... from learning it that is. It was
Fast forward to Now. I am not so scared of bulerías anymore. Por fín I allow myself to enjoy this palo. Actually, I can't not enjoy it. Especially when I am with a lot of people, and we're all taking turns. And especially when dancing to live cante and guitarra. There really is nothing quite like the feeling of putting something in that just right place and getting a big collective olé from everyone…
So, what else do I like?
Feeling right there in the groove with everyone
Accompanying with palmas and jaleos
The many short silly letras
And long beautiful ones
Witnessing each dancer's individuality…
I love that we get to really be ourselves when dancing bulerías. In fact, we are expected to be ourselves. We kind of have to. And really, even if we think, "Yikes! Far too scary, can't be myself," and try not to, well, we are still being ourselves. That self shines through all of the attempts to hide her (or him). So we might as well just BE, fully, verdad? And besides, we're just being our bulerías selves anyway…
Yes, yes, many good things, but let's face it, learning how to dance por bulerías is not easy, namely for those of us born in lands far from Spain! There is much to consider…when to enter, when to leave, how to stay in compás to name a few. Then, to top it all off, we have to follow the singer, and what if she sings something we are unfamiliar with?! The good news is that although bulerías are "improvisational," there is a structure to help us successfully dance to any letra (verse), even one we don't know. We'll learn all about this in the upcoming Understanding Bulerías Workshop, and it will be discussed in detail in the accompanying ebook. (And in case you're wondering why you might want to study this with me, I tell you here...It has something to do with me not wanting you to have to go through what I did to really learn it, with me wanting to make bulerías more accessible to you and hopefully help you learn from my mistakes!)
Stay tuned. Later this week I'll share with you a few things the have allowed me to more successfully dance this crazy palo in a variety of situations.
In the meantime, what about you? Do you have an uncomfortable getting up in front of everyone and doing a bulerías feeling like I had no idea what was going on story? (Because we can all relate; I have many.) Or perhaps a bulerías success story? Please let us know.