“Hard times require furious dancing” so wrote Alice Walker. Flamenco fits this purpose the way red shoes fit a frilly skirt. And so, I danced and danced and danced. Feet stomping, finger snapping, hands windmill swerving, gusto all abound.
What happens when the hard times are over?
As it happens, I am going through a phase of quiet happiness. For no particular reason, with no specialness involved. A sense of contentment. I find myself delighting hysterically in simple things. A cup of coffee. A good night’s sleep. A stroll in the forest. Bizarrely, I feel self contained. Like I am deep diving in an ocean, all the rest is muffled noise. Mere mumbelings. I struggle to pay attention.
Where is this furious dancing coming from?
It is a mystery. I search for clues in the four corners of my daily life.
Flamenco conversation with my son #1
My three children are busy baking cookies in the kitchen. I have been banished from the territory. I sit on the couch reading a book delighting in their chatter. On the edge of the conversation I hear an occurrence of bad language. Mothering instincts leap in like a panther. I registered my objection.
– Hey! Hey! language! If you use words like that I will take away your video games.
– That is not fair.
– How so?
– You swear all the time, yet receive no penalty.
– Not true, I never swear.
– When you dance flamenco, you swear with your feet.
His answer took me by surprise. The naked truth of it. All the flamenco performances this boy had seen, he actually understood. He saw beyond the elaborate costume, fiery music and choreography. How perceptive? Indeed that footwork roll is nothing but a stream of profanity. That hand gesture to the sky – blasphemy! All that chest thumping, thigh slapping, finger pointing – nothing short of ugly vulgarity.
What does this mean?
What is it that I want?
What am I searching for?
Why am I drawn to this like a moth to a burning candle?
Flamenco conversation with my son #2
– Mom! if you could be any superhero in the world which one would you be?
– A flamenco dancer.
– That is not a superhero.
– Yes it is.
– No! it is not. Not like Batman.
– Yes it is.
– Fine! What would be your super powers?
– I dance so well that people are left mesmerized.
– That is not a real superpower. Choose something else.
– Ok! When I dance, people’s heads will explode.
– Cool! that would be a cool super power.
– What will you name this super hero?
– Elen Ghulam
– That is a bad superhero name, choose something else.
– How about Flamenco Explosion?
– Explosion on its own would be better.
To dance is to tell a story without words. To write a novel is to make words dance off the page with elegant eloquence as to mesmerize the reader’s heart. To be a dancing author is to be cursed to an endless pursuit of two extremes.
Where does furious dancing come from?
I don’t know. Perhaps it’s my frustration with reconciling my contradictory interests. I invite you to join me while I explore the answer.