In my life passion has always been viewed as weakness. If you have passion, especially as a women, you can not control your emotions and you can not be successful. Losing your head to passion is not something that strong professional women can do.
Through flamenco I have found a world where passion is not only understood, but valued. Yesterday in class one of my friends walked in late. My teacher, Yara, who can be a bit harsh, asked her why she was late and where she had been. My friend responded apologetically that she was at work late. Yara yelled back “Hay una razón para faltar clase, si tu chico te dejó y te queda deprimida. ” She continues, really getting into it now ” No se puede faltar la clase para tu trabajo o si estes enferma, solo si te quedes deprimida.” (Translation: There is one reason to miss class, if your man has left you and you are left depressed. You can not miss class for work or illness, only depression.)
My attitude and snarkiness has not left just because I am in Spain, so I responded “NO, that is when we should dance, because we need to move on.” She gave me a look that clearly said “oh honey, you are so lost.” After thinking for a second Yara said “luego bailamos el dolor, pero primero tenemos que sentirlo.” (later you will dance the pain, first you have to feel it)
I’ve been thinking about this for days. Women who dance flamenco are powerful women. The can slam their feet into the ground at a million miles an hour. They can live on very little money because they live on dance. They can practice one hand movement for four hours without complaining. Flamenco dancers have danced through political oppression and economic depression. They valued themselves and their art when no one else did. These women are first-class feminists. Yet they feel emotion. They let themselves be hurt by love. I always thought that if I let myself be heart-broken I was being weak and going against everything the feminist movement stood for. However everyday I am inspired by these empowered women. I needed a few days to wrap my brain around this paradox.
I am starting to see things a little differently now. If I want to dance, and I want to dance, I need to feel all emotions, and I need to feel them intensely. You can dance every step perfectly and never be a flamenco dancer if you don’t feel the passion. Dancing flamenco is not about making it to every class or practicing every step in your room. To dance flamenco, you have to live flamenco. Even if that means crawling under your covers for a few days and feeling depressed. Later we can dance that. Even in that moment we are strong women. Later we can show our power to the world.