My Flamenco Love Affair


You can complain all you want that I haven’t posted enough videos recently.  I agree. It sucks. There is a reason. (Notice I said “reason” and not “excuse” because I still think that excuses are bullshit as previously stated near the beginning of this blog) Let me explain:

Next week, Wednesday, January 25th to be exact, I am performing flamenco at Disco Volante in downtown Oakland. For the past several weeks I have been working on what I would like to perform.  Now, this may get you wondering.  Every day? you wonder. . every day you have been working on just flamenco? for this one performance? Well, in a word, yes. 

Working is the perfect word. Before working on this gig, a lot of what I’ve been doing every day has been play, fun, imagine, following my trail of interest.  This flamenco gig has been work.

It is really my own fault. Flamenco is supposed to be fun. I was at a Misión Flamenca show  in San Francisco last Saturday night and fun was exactly what I saw and was reminded of.  Dancers performing their hearts out and community supporting them and people enjoying themselves. Yes, this is what flamenco is supposed to be, I think. But for some reason knowing I would be doing a flamenco gig again with live musicians and the whole bit which I haven’t done for quite some time got me really anxious.   You see I have had a long love affair with flamenco and it hasn’t always been pretty.  Like many love affairs, there was the initial dreamy eyed falling in love part, followed by the harsh realization that there was work involved.  After putting in years of work, I have often almost given up on it. Several times.   Sometimes I think that dancing it makes me angry. Or more aggressive than I want to be.  It churns up emotions which can be uncomfortable. I can feel frustrated like I’m never good enough. Sometimes, it feels like an inter-racial relationship.  Like there is something about me that doesn’t fit in the culture.  Flamenco doesn’t want to take a white girl home to mama.  I have let other people get too involved in my love affair and put too much importance on what people think of my relationship instead of listening to myself.  There are times I’ve felt like my love was unrequited. Un-returned.  I’ve turned my back on flamenco, pretending not to care. But secretely I do care. And I love dancing it. And lately with this blog, I’ve watched all those videos of me doing contemporary this, “modern” that, salsa this, and saw . . . underneath everything. . . a flamenco dancer. 

Luckily going to watch Misión Flamenca saved me from my anxiety about next Wednesday. It was a blast and reminde me to have fun with it again.  Thank god! I am having a lovely warm swim in the music of Guajiras.  I am relishing the coyness of the fan movements, rejoicing in my curviness, and feeling the excitement of crisply executed footwork. I am falling in love again.

For those of you interested in seeing me perform live, without the luxury of editing, I will be dancing next Wednesday night, January 25, 2012 at Disco Volante (347 14th St., Oakland, CA) 8:30 p.m., $7 cover, 2 sets. I am very excited to be working with such supportive and stellar artists: featuring singer Azriel “El Moreno,” David McLean on guitar, and Clara Rodriguez, dancer. Delicious food and drinks served late, all ages. Support flamenco in the East Bay — hope to see you there!


About Holly Shaw

Holly Shaw is a San Francisco Bay Area dancer and choreographer who has performed as a soloist with Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos off and on for several years. Shaw is the creator of the Eve’s Elixir project, a platform for artists of contemporary world dance wanting to bring new ideas to traditional dance forms, and has produced several shows in San Francisco. Her flow between contemporary modern dance, flamenco and Middle-eastern styles makes her a unique choreographer. Shaw has spent years training Bay Area dancers in technique and improvisation, challenging them to dance from a deeper level and uncover their unique style.

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