Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How to get to the Soul of it

I have taken a long hiatus from my blog.  About 10 days ago, I had an emergency room visit for corneal abrasion.  I damaged my eye by taking off a contact lens in a wrong way.  That was Saturday a week ago, and on Sunday morning, I think I scrubbed my eye waking up.  The following few hours, I was in excruciating pain on my right eye.  I was going to *tough it out*, but tears were streaming down non-stop, and the pharmacist on the phone said to go to the emergency room, so I did.    At the ER, doctors came in to look one by one saying "wow, that's impressive!".   A doctor friend said later, "it's not great when doctors are impressed"  :)  They told me it was quite large, 3mm x 3mm abrasion in the center of the eye.

It healed very fast but the pain medicine, Vicodin made me quite sick and slowed me down, which resulted in everything piling up.   I'm slowly picking up and catching up!

I went to see a Flamenco dance performance recently.   My husband is taking Flamenco guitar lessons quite seriously so friends call and we go out for these things.  I love Flamenco guitar, but in doses--it is just so intense, and if I listen to it, I will have to stop everything and it becomes very emotionally draining.  My husband plays Flamenco CDs all day while he works, and I have absolutely no idea how he can do that!

At the concert, the dancers were marvelous, well rehearsed, technically superb, and I just love the sheer energy of these fierce women.  The band: singers, drummer, guitarist were sitting in almost a semi-circle behind the dancers and I had this strange out-of-body or  out-of-context feeling: as if we were transported near a beach somewhere in the south of Spain, near a camp fire, or in a drinking place gathering and watching our neighbors sing and dance late into the night.  It was a strange feeling--on stage there is Malaga, and we the audience, Manhattan crowd peeking into the world ages and places away.  I see other more ethnic performances so to speak, but this Flamenco performance gave me this strange surreal feeling.

The top-billed dancer was obviously fantastic, and all three women gave great performances.  After the curtain call, all musicians and dancers came in front and formed a semi-circle clapping in interlocking rhythms as they do, and one by one they took turns giving short encore dances with only singing and clapping.  Even musicians and singers danced, which doesn't happen in classical setting;  how many violinist can drop the violin and join dancing the Nutcracker?  :)

Anyway, as much as the program "proper" was impressive, what I really felt for, was one of the singers who sang throughout the show.  She became a dancer for the moment during this encore, and gave her short solo dance.  She probably didn't have the fancy footwork that the dancers showed all evening, but I was moved by her, in just a few minutes of her dancing.  I felt she had the soul of it, and I don't know how I know it.   She didn't have more tragic or intense facial expression than others; she didn't move faster or slower than others.  But her dance spoke to me as a whole expression.   I try to think why this happened.

When your performance is rehearsed, choreographed, executed according to plan, one must do so until it becomes a second nature, where everything feels as if it was never planned.  I must confess that is quite a difficult state to achieve, as I find myself usually almost out of time, just enough to fulfill the planned execution.  I usually barely have one or two days of *non-involvement* that is to say, I don't have to think about specific execution of the performance before the concert.   You can put yourself a bit outside of the performance, which frees you.   As I mentioned in my previous entry, when I am not "all there", the audience seems to respond better than when I'm completely aware of every single things I'm doing during the performance.

This Flamenco singer-dancer had it---she wasn't thinking of the dance, nor choreography, but she was on the Magic Carpet expressing the soul of it.   It looked as if everything came naturally to her and it was her second-nature.  And that is what put everything into place--her facial expressions, her movements, everything.  When this happens, communicating with audience is completely effortless.  Now let's wish us good luck for our own performance next time, that we will get to the Soul of it  :)