A story on the value of observation from a past Flamenco Tour (followed by four bulerías take-aways):

Sunday night I was writing

About flamenco and Jerez and what I'm doing here and what I want to learn here.

And I set some intentions for the week.

I had a few.

One was to Observe

To observe people dancing bulerías. Especially people whose dancing I liked. In class and out. Anywhere and everywhere.

To watch them, really watch them. And to notice what was happening.

To notice how they responded to the cante.

To notice how they danced with the compás.

To notice when they did what they did.

To notice the things I liked.

To notice the things that worked.

Maybe even to notice the things I didn't like.

And to notice the things that didn't work.

On Monday morning I went to bulerías class

That was the day Ani taught the ladies about dancing on a floor tile. I'll tell you about that in the next post.

It was also the day she read my mind.

Ani read my mind.

And somehow she knew my intention.

Observation

Ani told us that that as a little girl she had always observed.

Observaba todo.

She observed everything.

She told us of how she would go to the peñas, and she would observe...

Where the guitarists put the falsetas

When people got up to dance

Where they said the jaleos

What they did with the palmas

Stuff like that.

She observed, and she learned.

So I started making more of an effort to pay attention to the other dancers in class. To evaluate what they were doing.

I noticed a lot.

Little things and bigger things. Concepts and cositas.

I noticed the dancers I liked were

  1. At ease and enjoying themselves,
  2. Listening constantly to the cante & compás,
  3. Reacting and responding to the situation,
  4. While expressing themselves at the same time.

Picturing those dancers in my mind and remembering them in action helps me to access those concepts.

As the day went on I thought more about observation

I thought about the many opportunities I had to observe and learn from people.

All day long and everywhere.

I thought about taking the concept beyond flamenco and learning about a lot more than just bulerías.

I started thinking about all of the ladies on the trip with me.

And how I had observed them in action and how they each had qualities that I admired.

There was someone who took care of everyone, another who made us all laugh. Someone so full of energy who acted quickly and got things done, another who listened intently and observed constantly. Someone who always  considered others, who also acted with caution. Someone who inspired us all with her perseverance and another who seemed to always be smiling, and I noticed how good and calm that made me feel.

I realized that at any moment I can learn from observing absolutely anything.

And once again,

I thanked flamenco for teaching me about life.

That's Zorri by the way. (Otherwise known as Pepe Dominguez Garrido) Talk about someone to observe dancing por bulerías! Fortunately for us he frequents bulerías class, so we get to see him a lot.

Your Observations

What do you notice about his dancing? About José Mendez's singing? About the guitar? What about the palmas? And what about each aspect in relationship to the others? Tell me what you observe. You can leave a comment here.

Would you like to be there too?

I'm going back to Jerez in October and Barcelona in November. You can come too. Click here to get on the list.

...

This is a reworking of this.

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