Every time I return home from the Flamenco Tour to Jerez I feel stronger. (It’s impossible not to after all of that time in class with Mercedes Ruíz.) I've learned how to turn the physical strength gained through dancing flamenco into mental strength to help me face challenges in my life. At the end of this post, I'll lead you through an activity to help you do the same.
Let’s begin with an excerpt from my journal a few years ago upon returning home from The Flamenco Tour:
I am home, and I feel it,
I feel it in my body, and I feel it in my being. (I always forget how this happens.)
The thing I wasn’t strong enough to do before I left. I can now do it. The thing I tried so many times to do before but couldn’t. The thing I kept trying to do but told myself I wasn’t strong enough to do.
I don’t need to tell you what the thing was. (It was a personal thing.)
Because we all have those things.
The things we want to do but don’t believe we can. The situations we need to deal with but don’t feel we have the power to. The challenges in front of us that we don't know how to face.
The thing I refer to above happened to be a situation I needed to attend to. It was a situation that required a lot of strength, strength I didn't think I had.
Then I went to Jerez and danced every day,
And I came home and discovered I had everything I needed to deal with the situation.
I didn’t know flamenco was going to help me in such a way, but it did.
I came home with new strength,
In my arms
In my legs
In my core
In my self.
Every Flamenco Tour makes me stronger,
We spend all kinds of time in class with Mercedes doing exercises to help us build up the muscles that allow us to dance the way we want to dance. So much body work every day. (When you watch Mercedes dance and see how beautifully she moves, you can tell why these exercises are so important...)
. . . Arms stretched out, fingers glued together, palms pressing down, hands making a fist, fist moving up, fingers stretching out. Again. And again. Then onto the next exercise.
At first the exercises may feel hard to get through, but after a few days they become more doable. After a week, even more doable. So doable that we feel surprised. Surprised to get right through an exercise. Surprised to look in the mirror and see greater definition in our arms. Surprised to look down and notice muscles we’d never seen before in our thighs. Surprised to touch our torsos and feel the power inside.
We do the exercises. We develop strength. We use that strength to help us. We come home, and we keep noticing the strength,
In flamenco. And in our lives beyond flamenco.
Body feels strong. Whole self feels strong.
- Consider a challenge you are facing in your life right now. Something that you don’t feel you have the strength to deal with. (Big or little, it doesn't matter.)
- Notice the physical strength you have gained through dancing flamenco. Where do you feel it most? In your legs? In your arms? In your core? Put your attention on that place in your body. You may even want to contract the muscles to really feel their power. Close your eyes and feel into this strength.
- Do you feel it? Now imagine this physical strength as mental strength. If you can access you physical strength, you can access your mental strength.
- How does this knowledge help you face your challenge?
If you're having trouble feeling the strength or if you want to feel it more intensely, take it a step further:
Do your favorite flamenco exercise. Footwork, bodywork, whatever. As you do it, feel your muscles working. Feel them getting stronger.
Remind yourself that you can develop as much strength as you need to do whatever it is you want to do.
How Did It Go?
How did that feel? Were you able to tap into your strength? Were you able to turn your physical strength into mental strength? Have you ever had an experience where flamenco has helped you confront a difficult situation? Let me know in the comments below.
Get Stronger in Spain!
Join me in Spain for a personalized flamenco vacation on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. Reap the benefits of being in a small class with Mercedes Ruíz in Jerez.
Here's what the trip includes:
- A small group workshop (daily classes) including some live accompaniment catered especially to you by Mercedes Ruíz.
- An intimate performance hosted by Mercedes Ruíz with Mercedes and her top dancers with guitarist Santiago Lara and cantaor David Lagos (or another wonderful cantaor)
- Bulerías classes at Peña los Cernícalos with Ana María López with live cante (and sometimes guitarra)
- Palmas and rhythm classes
- Support sessions with Laura to practice material studied in class
- Spa! A relaxing visit to the Hammam Andalusí (Arabic baths) for a massage and to soak in the baths. Click here to learn more about what we do at the hammam.
- A cute apartment in the historic Barrio San Miguel just minutes away from the dance studio and two of the most well-known flamenco peñas. Multiple occupancy apartments equipped with kitchen, washing machine, living and sleeping area. (Private rooms available at additional cost.)
- A walking tour of Jerez (to the Catederal, the Alcázar, bodegas, flamenco barrios Santiago & San Miguel, las plazas…)
- A sherry tasting and bodega tour
- A flamenco shopping tour including a visit to the shop of one of Mercedes’s seamstresses.
- A visit to the Centro Andalúz de Flamenco
- Q & A time with Laura
- Opening night tapas reception and informational meeting
- Small group size and individual attention
- Trip packet including a map of Jerez, recommended restaurants and stores, survival Spanish phrases, and tips from Laura and friends
- Insider travel info for Spain will be supplied upon registration. (I’ve learned from past experience/my mistakes).
- A bilingual guide (me!) with you in all of your classes and accompanying you on group excursions
- Optional add-on visit to see the famous Andalusian Horse show at the Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre
- A chance to do all of these things with a small, supportive group of people