If you ever get frustrated with flamenco, feel like you don’t belong, or feel like you’re too old to be doing this, read on for some words of wisdom from Mercedes Ruíz taken from past interviews along with a video to inspire.
(And if you’re curious to know more about this incredible woman we spend so much time dancing and learning with on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez, check out the links to all of the interviews I’ve done with her in full at the end of this post.)
When You Feel Like You Don’t Belong:
In our first interview Mercedes mentioned that she encountered a lot of problems on her way to becoming a professional flamenco dancer. This got me wondering, about what those obstacles were, and more importantly, how she handled them.
I thought about the flamenco world and it can be easy to feel left out or like you don't belong. (For me at least, because I let myself.) I wondered if any of that went on for Mercedes. Especially coming from Jerez, where people have some strong opinions about flamenco, how it is to be done, and who ought to do it. Prior to Mercedes, no one in her family had anything to do with flamenco. They still don't. Nor do they even like it really. So, I wondered how it must have felt for her, an outsider, to enter into this community. I learned that Mercedes, well,
She doesn't let stuff get to her.
Here is what she had to say:
When You Feel Frustrated:
Sometimes learning flamenco can feel so frustrating. It is an enormously challenging art form. The coordination, hands doing one thing, feet another, the body, understanding the compás, speaking the language, hearing the cante, sending clear signals with your moves… I know other students feel this way.
But could someone as out-of-control-amazing as Mercedes Ruíz feel the same?
Here are some of her thoughts on frustration:
Speaking of patience and work, here’s what she said when asked how she developed her style:
Patience and work.
See below what all of that patience and work has led to. It's Mercedes in action performing with her husband, Santiago Lara, and his group in Málaga last May:
Before the very first Flamenco Tour to Jerez I did a Skype interview with Mercedes. We had been planning the trip for a year via email, and it was set to happen in a matter of months. Still there was this little part of me that couldn’t believe it, this little part of me that feared all of the messages back and forth had been between me and some impostor who'd hacked into her email and was only pretending to be Mercedes. It all just seemed too good to be true. That Skype conversation put my mind at ease and that first Flamenco Tour did indeed happen, and many more after that. If you’d like to join me this fall to study with Mercedes, there’s still time! Get all of the details here.
Stay tuned later this week for another video of Mercedes from last weekend's Fiesta De La Bulería in Jerez and a letra.