• Yumi La Blanca

Back on track - Rediscovering the joy of dancing flamenco

As in September, I wasn’t still sure if I’d like to go back on stage. While continuing my normal studio practice routines, I just waited to see how I’d feel about dancing in public again. Only three weeks ago, suddenly I found the courage to do it. It’s inexplicable how this change of mood emerged, but probably it was triggered by our long-awaited trip to Barcelona late October. Seemingly I needed a holiday!


Almost like jumping off the cliff, I managed to book my spot at Juerga, an open mic night organised by Peña Flamenca de Londres, for 14th November.


Juerga


Although the Peña offers professional shows in most of the months, which have their own values, Juerga is the representation of how the Peña should be - a community of flamenco lovers to share the passion, professional and non-professional alike. For living the life of flamenco, this divided categorisation means nothing.


14th November turned out to be the most successful Juerga night ever - we had so many performers, a large audience, all of them eager to enjoy flamenco after going through lockdown. Many dance participants were students from different flamenco schools, sharing the stage through their common passion: flamenco.


While all of them did so well respectively, my personal highlight was the group of Carmela Romero dancing to ‘Probe Miguel’ by Triana Pura. Watching Carmela and her students purely enjoying the moment on stage, I was moved to tears - that was what many of us missed during the pandemic, and that was how I wanted to dance too.


‘Probe Miguel’ by Triana Pura (1999)


Mapping the dance


Losing touch with performing, I didn’t quite have any particular material worth doing. Five days before the show, Caroline, the event organiser, needed to know what I was dancing so that she could complete the running order. I was indecisive between Fandangos de Huelva and Tangos de Málaga, but after researching on Tangos del Piyayo in the previous week I felt more comfortable with Tangos de Málaga. The problem was, my dance version of this palo was still non-existence at that time.


Although I’ve performed Tangos de Málaga several times in the past, I didn't want to simply reuse the old choreography and, in fact, I’ve forgotten most of the parts. I quickly studied lots of Tangos de Málaga videos to have inspiration to create my own version from scratch. Not wanting to copy specific dancers or reproduce ready-made choreographies, I internally asked myself how I’d like to start off, which letras I’d prefer, how I’d make the transition to faster Tangos, etc., knowing that such plans might not work with live musicians on stage.


Making your own choreography in flamenco is like drawing a handmade map to get to a destination, but you also need to be aware of other routes and prepare for unexpected incidents on the way. In theory, it’s like that, but in reality, I just gave in… As I came up with a sketch of choreography three days before the show, I only had two more days to practise. The last Tangos part was very loose to be left for improvisation which I had no idea how it would turn out. I just made the structure quite straightforward for the live musicians (without having rehearsals) and the whole length shorter than usual (less than 10 min). After all, I hadn’t danced in public for almost two years…


Appreciation


(As predicted) the actual performance of my Tangos de Málaga didn’t quite go as planned, especially the transition to the faster part. That was OK, that’s live flamenco. I was relieved, however, that I could kind of manage to take off, handle the flow, and landed at the destination without major incident. I just decided to trust Fernando (singer) and Angus (guitarist), enjoying the short journey with them.


However it looked on stage, many people kindly gave me positive feedback and I couldn’t appreciate it more. As my dancing still functions in a way, I’ll try to have more… I hope that most of the participants at Juerga felt the same way - as a famous quote says, we’ll keep dancing. Thank you for the support :)


With the creative energy, I’ll reunite with the band ‘Flamenco Street’ in December, and we’ll see how we’d feel about the reunion. Hopefully it’ll be a positive one, and my cajón will also have more opportunities to be heard.


Seeking the joy of dancing flamenco - am I going to perform again? (12 September 2021)

https://www.baile-plus.com/post/seeking-the-joy-of-dancing-flamenco-am-i-going-to-perform-again