This is a story about how doing less in bulerías can serve us well. It's the follow up to the previous post on observation. Read on, and find out how to simplify your bulerías and perhaps even your life a bit too.
November 2013, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
She said she was going to show them how to dance on a losa.
Y por fiesta.
And party style.
It was Ani who said that. Ana María López. She said it on a Monday morning in Jerez.
We had been there for a little over a week.
And on this particular Monday morning the ladies had gone to bulerías class ahead of me.
A few days earlier I had mentioned to Ani how Pat had become intrigued by the idea of dancing on a floor tile when I'd told her about it months ago back home in Portland. This idea of dancing bulerías in such a small and simplified way. Ani decided it was time to show everyone what this meant.
When I walked in to class that morning I saw something I'd never seen before,
Everyone sitting together in a small circle in the middle of the studio.
A very small circle.
I felt kind of like I was walking in on someone's party. (Luckily I was not walking in alone.)
You see, on my way to class I had run into Zorri on the street. That's what happens in Jerez. You run into people on the street.
"Que hay, Laura?"
"I'm great," I told him. And we entered the peña together.
Everything was quiet. Not a soul in the hall practicing a step or chatting. Nobody was around.
This was odd.
Zorri and I walked in to the studio. We walked into a gathering that felt like a party.
Not a regular party like you may be picturing. Not any kind of rambunctious party. Not even a festive party. Because it was quiet. But not silent quiet like a library. Meeting quiet. Though this was nothing like a meeting.
Sometimes I wonder why I even attempt to explain these things.
It was not yet 11:30am, and a fiesta was happening in bulerías class.
It often feels like a fiesta in there. But at the end of class, not at the beginning. And besides, this was different. This felt intimate.
There the ladies were in a circle. Maybe it was like the circle I kept seeing in my head before that first trip to Spain.
One person in the middle dancing. Everyone else giving jaleos. They looked like they'd been doing this all their lives.
It was not normal.
I was used to seeing everyone very busy thinking during bulerías class.
Thinking about the new move they'd just learned or a move from the day before. Busy remembering how it went. And how to integrate it with the cante. Or standing up and learning the new moves, trying to make them work with the compás. Or asking someone else for help.
That's what I was used to seeing.
The same ladies who on Thursday had been so scared and nervous.
One by one they danced.
Together they supported one another.
As Ani coached them on how to dance on a losa.
Everybody thought dancing on a tile would be so hard, but somehow it wasn't.
Perhaps because of the closeness.
Perhaps because of the feeling of being held.
Perhaps because of the doing less.
You do less
You follow the structure, but everything is simplified. Everything is subtle. Everyone can do it.
Everyone was in that studio in Jerez, away from home, away from their comfort zones.
The room was the same. But the space was different.
Everybody was following the compás and just dancing.
When you dance on a tile you do less
You do things smaller
Put forth less effort
Leaving out the fancy stuff
Quick and uncomplicated
While being held by the group.
Somehow it's kind of easy. And fun. And flowing.
Somehow everybody around you feels the ease, the flow, the fun.
And that's nice.
At times I think I should approach my life the way you would approach dancing on a losa,
And just do less
When I'm feeling overwhelmed.
When it seems like there's no time.
When my brain is so full it seems it's not working. I think you've been there too.
Do less, Laura.
When we dance on a losa we keep our dance contained. We leave out some of the moves. . If a move is still too hard, we save it for later. We hold back a bit.
I don't need to squeeze every cute move into every pataita (bulerías dance). There will be other opportunities. There are some moves I might even want to let go of altogether.
I don't need to do everything right now, today. Some things can be left for tomorrow, or next week perhaps, maybe even next year. There are certain things I may not really want to do ever.
And that's okay.
How do you find ease in flamenco? How do you find ease in life? How do you do less? Or do you like to do more? Let me know. You can leave a comment below.
Want to learn how to dance on a floor tile? As you can see, it's quite fun. Perhaps you'd like to join the Flamenco Tour.
This is a reworking of this.