This is the first full summer I’ve spent in Kansas City since…Well, since high school. I’m enjoying it immensely, in a way I probably wouldn’t if I’d been here every year from the age of eighteen. Long days and warm nights. Fireflies at dusk. Intense storms that build over the plains, unleash their fury, and then fade toward the east.
Summer break magnifies the sense of leisure. While I have work to do, I have very few schedules to keep. No alarm clock going off in the morning. No class to get to by 9am. No exams to grade by next week.
An added bonus of staying in Kansas City this summer has been the opportunity to participate in flamenco workshops organized by my teacher, Tamara Carson. We’ve had two over the past month. The first focused on bulerias por fiesta, taught by Juan Paredes. The second took us into the more intense but equally lovely caña, taught by Vida Peral.
Dance has meant so much to me all my life, and at times I think it’s remarkable that even now I continue to practice and discover it as an art form. Dance brings me the opportunity for renewal, like a flower that constantly blossoms with new colors and fresh possibilities. Flamenco in particular, with its passionate celebration of everything raw and painful and beautiful in the human experience, has given me many blessings in recent years.
A friend of mine once made the observation that I am never happier than when I dance. I don’t think I would have noticed that on my own, but now that it’s been pointed out to me, I believe it’s true. Though “happy” might not be the right word. Connected, perhaps. To other dancers, to music and rhythm, to something greater than the sum of its parts. I’m never alone when I dance, even if I dance when nobody’s around.
Should that sense of companionship be surprising? Dance in so many ways is a language of the universe, a ritual that builds bridges between us and everything else out there. Through our movement we create patterns reflected in the natural world, from the spinning of atoms to the stately swirl of galaxies. We speak to all of those wonders, and through dance those wonders can speak to us.
When I’m feeling down, I turn to Dance for healing. When I’m feeling up, I use Dance to celebrate. Wherever I go, Dance is with me. When I can’t dance with my body, I dance inside my mind. Even in my dreams I dance; and in dreams it’s more fun because the rules of gravity don’t apply. When time came to build a system of magic for Eolyn’s world, Dance earned a place of honor as an ancient and powerful form of magic.
Do you have an art form, hobby, or past time that keeps you company, that helps you heal and celebrate in equal measure? Would you also dare to call it “magic”? If so, tell me more…
This week’s treat: A video of caña, the dance form that I had a look at in last weekend’s flamenco work shop. We didn’t use the shawls or the long skirts, but this will give you an idea of the music, the passion, and the movement. Enjoy!