Mishaps of dance recitals

Last week was my first ever formal dance recital at the age of 39! I have done talent shows, taken dance classes, and gone to dances but never performed on a stage in front of a paid audience. And I must say it is more about the journey than the end result.

For weeks we have practiced our alegrias flamenco routine. Some had more discipline than others, attending 2-3 rehearsals per week. This is for a 70 second dance! I am amazed by all the time spent dissecting the moves and facial expressions. We tried to perfect how to slow moves down, to speed it up, simplify the steps for those who were new to the class.

We were told to be at rehearsal today at 3pm for a 730 on show start. My beginners flamenco group didn’t go on until 9pm. There were 100 flamenco dancers, from young children to older women. My fellow flamenco cohort realised moves weren’t sharp enough. We practiced again and again, without music and numerous distractions. We finally moved as one entity. We were ready for the performance.

Show time came. Some were nervous , others were ready to get it over with. We all drank some type of alcohol two hours before to bond and prepare for the evening. The dance initially started off so well. We were in sync and moving as one as rehearsed. But then the unexpected happened. The live musicians accompanying us decided to freestyle a little too much and cut out several counts of our song, completely confusing us. We were doing so well. But we had no choice but to go with it.

The performance was over before we could process it. What just happened? All those hours of rehearsal and waiting around were for what? The musicians shifted it and this is what our performance was. There was no second performance scheduled. This was it, and now it was over. We could be embarrassed and ashamed with ourselves for looking like fools for the audience. Another option was to get mad at the musicians who truly seemed to mess that song up. We could quickly forget about it, and move on to the rest of the night’s adventures. Or we could take pride in what was just accomplished. I settled on a combination of all four emotions.

Our teacher, who was performing herself throughout the evening, reminded us that this is what happens during live performances. Certain things are out of your control. You may mess up, and it’s okay.

For many of us it was our first ever dance performance. But flamenco is a style of dance you don’t comprehend quickly. It takes years of experience to master this complicated dance look

simple. It has the percussions of tap dance, the gentle hand movements of hula, serious face of a soap opera actor, hip movements of belly dancers, rhythm at times of salsa, and the beauty in posing as ballerinas. Throw in singers, guitar players, and percussionists and this is a complex moving symphony.

I could give up on flamenco. This would be easy. But there is too much longing to want to improve. I watched those with years of experience rehearsing, and I could feel their passion in my body. I remembered how Elizabeth Gilbert once said that when people shout “ole” it stems from “allah”, meaning I see God in you.

The evening of our disappointing performance, I had a beautiful dream where dance was center stage. It was as if it was a wedding, but the host was dance. I woke up feeling joyous, moved, and awestruck. The excitement of performing lingered in my bones and unconscious. I vow to continue to have dance be a central part of my life on some capacity. We are never too old to harness a call to “ole.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: