Ever find yourself getting stuck in your head during class?
I know how you feel.
Today I will share with you four things you can do when you find yourself in this situation and I’ll show you a video you’ll LOVE of Beatríz Morales.
But first, a story.
I originally posted this here just before the very first Flamenco Tour in 2012. I wanted to share it with you today on the eve of Thanksgiving. Rereading it I feel grateful. Grateful for trust.
Grateful for the trust that allows me to do certain things that I fear. Things that I really want to do. Things that make my life richer. Without trust, I would miss out on so much.
So, thank you, trust.
Some good things
have happened since my trip began. And I've already learned something very important.
On Monday I went to the Portland airport.
People are feeling nervous.
Nervous and anxious about the Student Showcase on Saturday.
I know this feeling. Well.
So I thought I'd repost these tips today, performance tips.
Whether you're performing in front of your friends in class,
at a show in front of the public,
or even just in your own bedroom in front of your cat,
There are things we can do to ease our nerves ...
Tengo un secreto.
I leave in a few weeks, and I’m scared
But not for the usual reasons.
I’m afraid to take people there. Even though this will be the fourth time I’ve taken a group there to study.
She said she was going to show them how to dance in a losa
Y por fiesta.
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 I guess.
And on this particular Monday morning the ladies had gone to bulerías class ahead of me.
When I walked in I saw something I'd never seen before
Ricardo asked me how things were going here in Jerez.
I told him everything was great
Everyone was happy. We were hearing tons of flamenco. Doing tons of flamenco. Learning a lot. The weather was nice...
"Todo bien," I told him, except that I felt like my body looked weird when I danced.
"Andaaaaa. Tu cabeza si que es rara."
"Come on! Your head is what is messed up," he told me.
I wrote and posted this story about two years ago. I was so inspired by Akiko that I wanted to repost it today, with a few adjustments. Today when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed out about all kinds of things.
Today when I am feeling shut down and scared to perform this weekend, as I so often get.
Today when I need grounding and inspiration.
Today I need to remember Akiko in the springtime in Sanlúcar...
Allow me to tell you a bit about Akiko, one of the many inspiring people I've met during my time here in Jerez.
Not too long ago Akiko began taking classes in Japan from Harumi, an incredibly graceful flamenco dancer from Osaka who básicamente seems to have mastered las bulerías de Jerez. She even co-teaches with Ana María López at la Peña los Cernícalos when she is in town.
But back to Akiko.
A video interview with Ricardo López to calm your nerves...
Sometimes we joke around in class about Ricardo
Not behind his back, don't worry. We do it both when he's here and when he's not. We pretend we're him, and we walk around with intense looks on our faces, vigilando.
Other times we just pretend he's there in the room with us, looking like he looks.
It's fun. You should try it.
The thing is, he doesn't usually have an intense look on his face
In the video below, you can see for yourself.
I ask him about getting nervous before a workshop. Because the thought of studying with an out-of-this-world amazing dancer from Spain who is used to dancing with the best of the best can feel a little bit intimidating to some of us around here.
We had FUN with Ricardo. (If you missed him this time, don't cry, he'll be back...)
What one student had to say
(It really moved me...)
"Thank YOU so much! I had an amazing time this weekend with you, Ricardo, and everyone at your studio. I am really just blown away, in so many ways.
Laura I have not danced in at least 4 years. No exercise, no dancing, nada. I have been going crazy all this time, with this love inside me, trying to channel it through cante occasionally but most of the time having no outlet.
I have been scared I couldn't make it,
Some good things have happened since my trip began. And I've already learned something very important. A story and a video of Manuel Liñan dancing.
On Monday I went to the Portland airport.
I befriended the woman standing behind me in the security line who, as it turns out, I already knew. We talked and I told her about my trip. She told me it was going to be great even though I was scared that everything would fall apart. She also told me I would definitely organize more...
On Tuesday I arrived in Madrid.
It was sunny and the sky was blue. I was in Spain and happy.
Now I am in Jerez. It is rainy and the sky is grey. I am still in Spain. I am still happy.
It's almost time to perform, and I'm worrying. I've felt this way before... But I guess I needn't worry so much. At least I don't have to get up in front of the whole audience to talk and start crying instead.
Anyway, so I decided to take myself for a walk to the farmer's market to get some fresh flowers. Only there was no farmer's market because it's Saturday, not Sunday. Oh yeah. But it got me out walking. And a walk is always good for me. I walked and went through some steps in my head.
Now I'm giving myself encouragement. I'll be there sharing the stage with people who are wonderful and supportive!
And I'm writing myself some notes, some reminders for tonight and tomorrow.
Here are some things to remember before (and during) a show...
Ok, so there is this one thing I've noticed that really, really, really has a BIG effect on my dancing. Is it the biggest effect? I don't know.
But it's big
I know how important it is, yet I still refuse to consistently give it the credit it deserves.
I want to remember to do it. Or no, not remember, I want to do it even if I don't want to.
You know how much I like stories, so let us begin with a story.
It was a Wednesday much like today, sunny and hot that is. I was in Jerez. It was the spring of 2011...
The rest of the story comes in the form of but another excerpt from my journal.
The following post is about fear, about overwhelm, perhaps about stage fright. About Ricardo López's dancing and reaching my lack of motivation.
We've had all week to work on the show.
But I've felt FROZEN.
Congelada. I've found any excuse not to practice, not to get the help I wanted from Ricardo… At first I didn't know why. I just decided I was lazy.
I only went through things in my head. I know, I know, that's an important way of practicing.
Ricardo is sharp. He is fast. He is precise. He is intense. He sweats. He puts it all out there. I don't understand how he does this. I don't do this.
And I feel lazy.
I have this thing in me that shows up a lot, Doubt, which I guess comes from Fear. It keeps me from doing all kinds of things, or has me do things kind-of-sort-of rather than completely. It bothers and annoys me, though I suppose it might have important things to tell me, perhaps it is there for a reason. I don’t usually know why or what it has to tell me, but I’d like to start paying more attention and perhaps find out.
So my biggest issue with bulerías when I got to Jerez was the transitions. Well, ok, that’s not really true, my biggest issue after fear. But about the transitions, it was like all of a sudden I couldn’t see them. And I didn’t know what to do.
It was my first time in Ana María López’s class after dancing by myself in front of EVERYONE, which is what you have to do EVERY day there and actually NUMEROUS times every day.
And you can’t hide.
You can’t escape by leaving the room because someone calls you, even if you’re outside practicing or just trying to escape all of the smoke. - Yes, smoking. Lots of smoking goes on in class, from start to finish - And if you try to pretend you didn’t hear that you were called and still don’t come in, someone comes to get you.
I guess you could say I was kind of consumed with fear during my time in Jerez. I did things anyway, but I also didn't do things. Below is an excerpt (with some side notes) written during my first week alone there. For those who are new to this blog, I had been in Jerez a couple of weeks before for the Festival. After a brief trip to Portugal, I headed back. I arrived on Friday the 25th and began my search for classes.
Prior to leaving for Spain I knew who I wanted to take from and had names of studios and phone numbers; I even had an idea of when some of the classes were offered. Sí! I had done my research, I promise, as best as I could from Portland, Oregon...I had to for the RACC grant. And during the festival I got an idea of where the studios were located. But I had yet to figure out the class times. Could I have done more to determine this earlier in the month? Perhaps. But figuring out where and when things happen in that town is not as easy as one might think…
What show? TraCaTRA. Danica would arrive in Portland on Monday; the show would happen the following Sunday. We've put together shows in less time, entonces, "Sí, hagamos un show!" we decided.
El proceso para mí: I notice I often really really really want to do a show then stop wanting to as the date approaches because I get SCARED and start losing the motivation to prepare.
It seems to go something like this:
March 6 Sunday There is a different energy this week compared to last week. Is it due to the rain? - actually closer to the way I remember spring weather in Spain - Or perhaps it is that some of the excitement has worn off? Or is it that I am taking classes by myself this week, without any of my compañeras from home. I was only signed up for one festival course, so I decided to take a tangos workshop from Tatiana Ruíz, the daughter of Chiqui de Jerez. The girl ought to be a sergeant in the US Army, though I suppose she talks too much for that. In any case, she worked us hard today and clearly took great pleasure in doing so. My brain quickly went into overload as I tried to execute the steps at a seemingly impossible pace while at the same time struggling to understand how in the world Tatiana moved her body as she did. Later that afternoon I headed to my bata de cola class with Alicia Márquez. It moved slowly, so I was able to get things, but still, how ever do I get this awkward train to cooperate and do what Alicia's does?! As I walked down the halls of the bodega after class, I poked my head in the various rooms and fantasized that it was my home.
February 26 Saturday Our first day of classes...Nervous as ever to go to Manuel Liñan's class, and I think my nerves were contagious. Sorry, Heather. We were like eager kindergartners on the first day of school arriving 20 minutes early, the first ones there, I don't know if I've ever been the first to arrive. Actually, Manolillo was there and even said hi - we soooo enjoyed class. Went to find the supermarket afterward, and on the way (I hadn't put my jacket on yet; it was warm and we'd just worked hard!) I pass an older woman on the street. Without making eye contact she looks at my clothes and says, "Hija, hace calor pero tampoco para irte así" Haha, I love Spain! Went home to make lunch, rest a bit and review what we'd learned in class. Then off to afternoon class with Marco Flores. Was wonderful to see him again and to thank him in person for the letter of invitation he wrote me to come to the festival.