Friday, November 05, 2004

Ole! *ouch!*

Flamenco - the dance designed to cause much pain to your feet and give you shin splints.

It wasn't that bad. It was actually interesting - we learned quite a bit about the history of the dance, where it originated (from the Roma in Spain, who were originally from India - there are strong ties to traditional Oriental-style dances), regional variations (Spain vs. Brazil vs. Argentina vs. Equador etc.), and the role of the dancer. Did you know that in proper flamenco, the singer is actually the leader, not the dancer? They call out the dance moves, the dancer performs them, and the guitarist follows along.

The dance itself is complicated. The music is in sets of 12 beats, as opposed to 8, and counting isn't much help since the timing is more intuitive than anything else. Arm movements are slower and bigger than in belly dancing, and you only really move the forearm - the elbow doesn't move. I won't even go into the footwork. Most of the time I spent with my eyes closed so I wouldn't watch someone else do it and get confused. There's one sequence that took forever to get down:

Pick up right foot; let it fall (basically, stomp gently)
Tap left heel on floor and bring forward slightly
Tap right heel on floor (left foot is still in the air)
Bring left foot down
Tap right heel on floor and bring forward slightly
Tap left heel on floor (right foor is still in the air)
Bring right foot down

The variation on this is to do the first four steps, then stomp with your right foot again and repeat steps 2-4 again. Eventually, you'll get the hang of it - and then we'll throw in the clapping and the timing. That was always the thing - I'd get the footwork down, and then we'd be shown the arm waving and clapping and finger-snapping, and I'd be lost again. Sounds fun, n'est pas?

That was the other thing - the instructor did most of the class in French. She repeated most of it in English, but sometimes forgot. Her French is quite good, and she wasn't using slang or dialect, so while I didn't understand every word, I got the gist of things.

Now, I'm exhausted. I want popcorn badly, but it's too late. I need to pry my contacts out before they glue themselves to the lids of my eyes, and go to bed.