today’s revelation: i like dancing—not dance.
dancing is what i do when i hear good music. it comes naturally to me, and it feels gr-r-r-reat! dance is what the movie scarlett and i went to tonight was made up of. she had suggested we check out this flick at the library because they are showing movies there for free this month. as we are now both impoverished, free is the magic word; however, i guess you get what you pay for. by ten minutes into the movie, all i could think was: omg—no one is ever going to talk in this??
the movie “iberia” is over an hour and a half of different compositions from some dude named isaac albéniz, as interpreted through dance. imagine “fantasia” without the decency of being a cartoon. or being trapped in a car with someone who will only listen to the light jazz station. i don’t know about you, but there is only so much david sanborn i can hear before i want to drive a chopstick into each earhole. call me uncultured if you will, but i don’t want to watch dance; i just want to go dancing.
dancing, mind you, is not what i do in class. what i do in class is desperate, rote memorization. and even that didn’t help today as the flamenco routine i committed to memory last week and practiced ad nauseum with scarlett is now a thing of the past. maricarmen, my teacher, has moved on to not only a new choreography this week but a new “compás.”
a compás is a musical pattern. you see, flamenco, as a dance form, is all about keeping time. you do this by stomping, tapping, clapping, and slapping*. what makes this tricky is that flamenco, as a musical form, is all about wild and varying time signatures. i, like most of my american compatriots, am accustomed to a 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 musical pattern. flamenco, on the other hand, will likely hit you with something like a 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2. and that’s just a simple example.
last week, our routine was danced to a tango compás. this week, we are learning a bulería. the count is something like 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. da hell? imagine how a song with a beat like that would go over in the club.
as if this completely unnatural beat isn’t bad enough, it’s being counted to me in spanish. so i’m trying to translate the rapid succession of numbers in my head, find the beat, and move my feet at the same time. it’s miserable. not to mention that, whenever maricarmen teaches us steps, she follows with the arm movements a little later. i am never, ever able to make both my arms and my feet perform simultaneously. as soon as i add arms, my feet completely cease to function. this never happens to me in dancing—only in dance.
maricarmen singled me out for this phenomenon today, and, despite my dreadful dance performance, i had the best spanish conversation with a spanish person that i’ve had thus far. i was so focused on my inability to coordinate my errant limbs that i forgot to think hard about the spanish, and it just rushed out of me as a torrent—un chorro—without effort on my part. the convo went like this:
maricarmen (to me): con los brazos. tú también. ¿por qué no lo estás haciendo?
me: ¡porque no puedo mover los pies y los brazos a la vez!
maricarmen: ¿por qué no?
me: no sé. ¡es que no funcionan así!
it’s the first time i’ve actually had a verbal exchange with maricarmen. i’m normally too terrified and tongue tied to formulate even the simplest of questions, despite desperately needing to ask them. so these few sentences are the small victory i’m taking away from another unsuccessful day of dance. bleh. prefiero mucho bailando.
*how can she slap? HOW CAN SHE SLAP?? haha…inside joke.