Sunday, September 16, 2018


WHEN I TOOK MY FIRST BULERIAS CLASS, HERE IN SEVILLA, I did the typical Canadian thing and apologized to Ramon Martinez, my teacher, because my Spanish was poor. 'Lo siento,' I said, 'mi espanol no es muy bueno.' He smiled and replied to me in English, 'Never mind! Just dance!' He actually said a bit more than that, but this was the core of his advice. So now, 'Never mind, just...' has become my motto for every artistic endeavour I do. I think it's a good one.

Not sure what to do with your bulerias improvization? Never mind, just dance.
You flubbed that last llamada? Never mind, just keep going.
Where does this all end? Never mind. It's not about some far-off goal you may never reach. It's about the journey. Just go! Enjoy!

How many of us waste our time obsessing over small details or never allowing ourselves to make mistakes? I'm guilty of this in dance, which is why, for me, improvisation is so difficult. Ramon told me not to be afraid to fail, to make those mistakes. So flamenco is not just about understanding its physical technicality. It's also a battle with one's pride, never an easy thing to win. It's also about looking so confident that when you make a mistake, you hide it, as if to say, 'Oh, yes? I meant to do that!'

I find this motto so helpful. You might, too. How about using, 'Never mind, just...(then fill in the blank with whatever your goal is at the moment). For example:

Ticked off, because the short story you submitted wasn't accepted? Never mind, just write.
Not sure where to start that novel? Never mind, just start. Anywhere. You're going to edit the damn thing to death anyway.
Frustrated because that painting isn't working? Never mind, sometimes it's the mistake that makes the piece shine.

One of my fellow bulerias students is deaf. As Ramon sings, she watches his lips carefully, so she'll know what to do and when to do it. (Bulerias is tricky this way. There are places in the cante where you can do certain moves, and other places where you shouldn't. Thus, my confusion at times.) In spite of her handicap, she's been dancing with Ramon long enough that her improvization is amazing. She is, by far, one of his best students. It's clear she lives by that motto - 'Never mind, just dance.'

I have one more class with Ramon on Monday, and then I leave Seville for Canada. I've enjoyed my time here very much. I've learned a great deal, and I can't thank Ramon enough for that. He's changed how I see myself as a dancer.

Will I return to Seville and his class next year? I can't say. But I can say this: 'Never mind. Just dance.' (Thanks, Ramon.)

- Susan.

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