The Road Is Life
From the Couch to the Tablao
A bailaora apprentice-psychologist finds her art, and a new self, in Seville
Rosi Salgado, guest writer
Photos: Francisco Javier González y García
Infinite instants, those moments when the internal is suspended, the only presence is a floating sensation where you contemplate your echoes, all your senses resonate and you realize that in that experience there is a lot of you, that it pierces you, sometimes so much that you can’t even name it. There are fragments of memories, images that go with you, smells, marks on your body that possibly frame and drive your next decisions.
It would seem like in these infinite instants a dialogue opens up between you and your self, coexisting in the same space, showing that it’s there where both abide without overlapping and suffocating. That's what happens to me with dance.
I danced flamenco in front of an audience for the first time when I was 12. The most significant thing for me was when, after rehearsals were over, I carried my dress on my shoulder through the streets of the center of Queretaro. It was a very magical feeling. I felt that everything I needed to re-create myself as many times as necessary was in a bag and on my shoulder. I think it was here that my trip to Seville began.
Thirteen years later I was in an office with a degree in Psychology, studying a master's degree in Psychoanalysis, running from one job to the other, looking for spaces to take flamenco classes two hours a week. While I enjoyed everything I did, there was no room for those infinite instants. Because infinite instants are not devoured; they are peculiar mouthfuls filled with flavor.
I really wanted to run, but running in circles doesn’t mean you’ll find your axis to turn. Something popped into my mind: what would I be doing if it weren’t this? I googled one of the most recognized flamenco dance schools in Seville. I wrote them that I was aware that I was possibly too old to be trained as a dancer, but that I was interested in studying with them. Two hours later they replied, "There are no ages for flamenco or for art. The course starts in September."
It wouldn’t be September but January of the following year when my husband and I finally arrived at the Santa Justa station, in Seville; a land with the aroma of orange blossoms and golden reflections, a cultural melting-pot with choppy words. Two days later I began a new daily life, which I had wanted for a long time. I realized that that bag didn’t only contain my flamenco shoes and skirt, but also an intense desire to know myself using flamenco as a language.
We started our new routine, having breakfast in the same café every morning, where I had my first coffee of the day: coffee with milk in a glass. We went to the market, where the lady who sells chicken and the butcher were happy to see Mexicans interested in recipes, places, recommendations. Returning for dinner at the same place near home, where we didn’t understand at all what the dishes meant, or what our waiter said; we just said yes and surprising and delicious things came to the table. My husband and the waiter seemed like great friends who had been fond of each other for a long time, shaking hands and patting each other’s backs, even though they never understood each other when they spoke. In that restaurant they have a blackboard where every day they write a phrase, and one night there was one that touched my heart: "Every day less perfect, more human and happier."
Then I decided to dance here for the first time. My dance spoke of different concepts of love: love from victimhood, that stubborn love that is unrequited and goes on and on, hurting; self-courtship; enjoying yourself with others; the respect to your own way of loving, even if it’s inadequate for many, and the constant and surprising encounter with the other.
This experience was full of infinite instants. It was suggested that the event be held for the benefit of Syrian refugees in Greece. All the participants joined the cause, turning this episode into more than just a part of our training path, highlighting one of the main reasons why art exists: to reveal the discomfort that exists in society, without violence, denouncing with the body the disagreement to the oppression and with the soul the sensibility to be there for the other.
I don’t know if I'm going to become a full-time flamenco dancer; what I do know is that I don’t want to stop dancing with myself, in a wide range of rhythms. As the great teacher and bailaor Antonio Gades said, quite psychoanalytically: "In my hunger, I’m in charge."