It started rather harmlessly, with me wanting to paint the powerful body language of a Flamenco dancer. I had seen a presentation as a child in Spain, and the passion in her movements made a lasting impression. But while I was still doing research on famous flamenco dancers and watched old black and white flamenco videos, I got caught up brooding over similarities to a phase of my own life.
Have you watched any flamenco videos lately? I recommend Carmen Amaya, the Spanish gypsy whose fiery dance turned her into a famous diva in the last century.
To me, Flamenco Dance is a powerful expression of passion and inner turmoil. Pent up emotion seems barely harnessed into elaborate steps and hand movements. The whole body is under tension while performing the figures of the dance.
I began to see parallels. I always had plenty of passion and emotion to offer – an internal tumult, outwardly harnessed and dominated by pride. I’m sure everybody has tried to be ‘cool’ at some point and felt the fear of rejection. I was trying to storm through the wall, while at the same time keeping one foot out of the door, ready to run.
If I wanted to, I could trace the steps of social etiquette pretty nicely – but in a moment I might as well whirl away in a crazy staccato. I wanted to be admired as a dancer, but from an emotionally safe distance to the audience, please.
I’m not sure if the same thing happens to you, but when I open the door of imagination to such idle musings, pretty soon a wild herd of thoughts comes galloping in.
The bull fighting arena came to mind: running around in pursuit of an open door only to slam it shut instead, I tended to end up collecting various lances. Which were in no way dealt out by devious fellow human beings! The unmoved Torero following his own dance etiquette was none other than myself.
A spirited dancer, an uncaring bull fighter and the victim bull, all whirling around blindly, led by passion, pride, hidden fear and confusion. Facets of the desires, dreams, and passions of a person too caught up to break out of the circle.
Aren’t we all striving to step away from our dance and have a look from the jury’s stand? Once we manage to look back, how rewarding is it to search for images and parallels to translate our experiences into? Certainly more rewarding than the appropriate face palm-reaction! Let’s put our blindness into beautiful pictures and paint and poetry. And transform the raw instantaneous into a new figure of thought and brush strokes.
Passion Prey, oil on canvas, 36×24 (tryptich)
I do have a little P.S.: I was never an actual dancer- tragically I was blessed with the grace and physique of a six foot bean pole as a kid, so my aspirations to become a ballet star were immediately squandered… ;) otherwise, who knows, I might be expressing myself in a dance today, instead of paints and brush…