Last night, I danced at La Peña Niño Alfalfa. It's a cultural flamenco society located in the heart of Sevilla. It's a place I often frequent to see other dancers and musicians; it's my favorite peña in Sevilla because there is no snobbery, (no pijos), no anti-foreigners, no flamenco 'aristocrats.' It's somewhere I can always go on a Friday or Saturday night and hear some good flamenco, have a nice jam session, catch up with friends and the socios, make new friends, and just generally have a tranquilo (laid back) flamenco evening. When I got to Sevilla, I requested a date to perform there; the first available date was in April--so I guess I've been waiting a long time for this....
I decided to dance por seguiriyas. I've never ever ever in my life danced a solo in that palo. For me, it's by far the hardest palo. But I can't just keep dancing dances I am already good at; my friend Cristina Hall helped me work up the courage to dance a seguiriya. Although it was a risk, I knew if I'd done the same dances I've done all my life, I wouldn't learn much, and that's what I am here to do. Learn.
Studying flamenco is humbling. It is both the simplest and most complicated thing I have ever encountered in my life. There is always more to learn, and the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. It’s an endless journey and process. Sometimes it seems so easy, yet it is harder than it looks to get up and dance everything in rhythm, with control, with expression, with a profound understanding of what you are actually doing—that way you are not imitating but really using flamenco as a means of communication.
So I danced por seguiriya, and a difficult choreography at that--mostly steps from Manuela Rios´ advanced class. And I had about half an hour in total to rehearse with both musicians (and I had to rehearse my other dance too!) I feel like I danced the seguiriya decently. A few mishaps here and there; I don't yet have the resources or experience to a) play within the rhythm as much as I would like to, or b) call in the musicians again if they miss a cue. But I am far happier that I pushed myself to dance that piece than if I had danced another dance flawlessly.
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. – Pablo Picasso
I danced por tientos as my second piece. As I reflected after the performance, I remembered the first time I danced por tientos as a solo; I got completely out of compás (out of rhythm) in the opening of the dance, and remained out of compás for the entire rest of the dance (Oof!). That was several years ago. Now, tientos is my favorite palo; the ‘choreograpy’ I dance por tientos is also truly mine--something I put together rather than something I learned from someone else and gave my own color. It’s amazing to look at how I’ve progressed. So, for last night being my first time EVER dancing a solo por seguiriyas, I did pretty well—you have to start somewhere. :)
For now, here is the video of the tientos/tangos. And also a HUGE OLÉ to David Hornillo (singer) and Idan Balas (guitarist).
Thanks to Ellen for taking the video!!!!
And, the skirt I am wearing is the work of my mother, Barbara Blumenfeld. Check out her flamenco skirts!