On Performing . . . Fear & Vulnerability in Flamenco
Fear. The fear of being vulnerable, being open, being seen. I think it's at the heart of so much anxiety in the world, and it's an impediment to so many things.
Like dancing flamenco.
We've been working a lot on how to move beyond the techniques of flamenco baile: the arms, the footwork, the moving through space . . . How do you express, how do you embody . . . how do you perform flamenco, not just do it?
Some of it comes down to having your awareness reach through your whole body, dancing all the way out through your fingers and toes, giving your intention to every muscle and joint . . . something is transmitted through the tension and release, the purposeful placement . . .
Now, what about your face?
There's are functions across several areas of the brain that coordinate to do nothing but analyze faces, to recognize others and read the subtle communications that are being presented there. Humans look for meaning, and we read faces.
So, the trick, as a performer, is to make sure that your face is saying something, and that it's saying what you want it to.
Even if all your face is saying is, "Watch me dance. I'm engaged, I'm intense, I have a purpose. Watch me." Let your face be honest and engaged.
Look at these faces:
If you knew nothing about the context of the performance, nothing about flamenco, what would these faces tell you?
Is there something universal,
primal, more emotional than narrative?
We know that many expressions have different interpretations in different cultures, different purposes in different contexts, private faces and public faces . . .
. . .but isn't there something true that comes from skin and bone, blood and muscle, nose and eyes and lips . . . ?
The tilt of the chin, the narrowing of the gaze, sometimes it takes only the smallest adjustments to convey worlds.
Back to where we started. Fear. Vulnerability. The flamenco dancer's job is develop a relationship with them. To understand that vulnerability leads to strength, because in being open with your audience you are dancing with the strength of everyone present, for everyone present. Your fear is the same as theirs. The fear of being present in this moment, together. while the possibility of honesty is ripe.
Let your face show your fear, your effort, your presence. Feel your body to your fingertips and toes.