Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant 3 hour flamenco session today, if very exhausting.
As there was more time, we could spend time on the circling my arms in the first move of the routine with the hand twists incorporated. And did we spend time on it!
The thing I found useful was that by working through this exercise with one arm at a time, and very slowly, patiently and meditatively, I could do it. Its just when I am doing it faster and with both hands twisting where they should be twisting that the problems start.
Basically, my shoulders (or hombro's) are too hunched and tense when doing the arm movement. I have to think like someone is pulling on my back, to keep my shoulders completely down and back. This works.
The other issue with this move is that when I move each arm alternately out to circle and introduce the hand twists, I have to remember that it is a full circular movement of the arm and the hand twists push that move on. At the moment I have a tendency to stop half way through the movement once the first hand twist is due and then carry on. It needs to be a fluid movement.
There's just so much to remember though at the same time! So we started the routine practice and there was no way I can include the hand twists at this point. Its far too hard and too fast for me.
Also, another new move was introduced to the routine, which means 4 moves to this tango.
Toni said a funny thing - he said that in flamenco they have 2 types of dance. Tango is a happy dance for partying and there is the more lamenting type too. I was too rigid and tense at the moment for this tango, could I remember any movement in any salsa I've done? So its ok to have some 'attitude' and feeling in the dance after all. I just need to be less stiff and more relaxed. But can I achieve that?
I tried my best to be more relaxed, put it that way. Perhaps thats what this is all about. Freeing a relaxed spirit form within me? Plenty of more practice to go!
Onto the stamping....golpe plano was again really tiring but getting stronger. And with the tacon, I need to always think in the 'down' movement, really directing the heel down deep into the floor. And I'm still swaying in the hips and the shoulders, grrrr! With these stamp moves I have to control my body with my abdomen and pelvis so that I am grounded and don't sway. Legs need to have a bit of flexibility and again be less tense.
There was also another new stamp move. Planta tacon (right) then tacon (left) (using heel down, sole up) then planta tacon (left) tacon (right) (using heel down, sole up) etc etc. I had to get into my own head space for this, it was too fast to follow Toni. I had to take it slow to get it right at my own pace.
Toni had some really great ways of explaining how to think within each move. For example, the golpe and planta stamps have to be very hard and strong to ensure my security in the ground. The tacon has to be controlled by the abdomen and its all in the 'down' movement. With the newest move, mixing the heel tacon with sole up and the planta stamp, I have to imagine that the floor is bouncing the sole of the planta up to get the energy to mov.e to the tacon heel (with sole down) movement. At least I think thats right.
So what its showing me is just how powerful the mind is in this process of learning. Not just about the theoretical way something is done, but providing a strategy to get from A to B with a movement and how we can create the conditions mentally to achieve something physically.
It was such a fantastic day today. We had a bit of a laugh at my lack of rhythm in places and the weak moves, but I also felt as though more progress has been made and I even heard quite a few 'bueno's' from Toni and the suggestion that there has been some improvement. I feel more 'manly' in the moves as well and my body has definitely changed over this first full week. You can see the muscles and the arms are becoming stronger day by day, and I do feel as though I'm becoming stronger mentally and physically. It just takes a lot of focus.
Anyway, I managed to organise going into the dance school before my lessons to practice, so I'll start that next week. After today's lesson I went to do a bit more practice in my secret space but after about an hour felt very rough and dehydrated that I had to head home.
I've had a lot of realisations today about what this process is becoming about. Its as much about my mental strength as my physical strength, and ultimately, am I doing this because I need to lighten up and relax?
Also, though subconsciously I knew it, I really realised that what I'm trying to learn is a language with its own set of grammatical rules. And like any language, you have to constantly use it to get the best result.