Hola friends, with today’s modern city lifestyle (fast-pace, fast-food, fast outcomes) , it’s become more vital to feel our humanity and to care for our health, well-being and happiness, in natural ways.
Here are some reflections and tips. See if some resonate with you.
1. Health for body, mind, heart and soul
We need to keep our bodies moving for health.
Don’t be sedentary, bum glued to desk. Keep moving, keep the circulation going.
We need to keep our minds stimulated . Sometimes I say to my students: “If you keep dancing, most likely you won’t get dementia!”
I bet that memorising steps and moving body to rhythms will already help make abundant connections and catalyse those sparks within our brain cells.
Oh, add to that, castanet finger rhythms!!
Here are some natural boosters (my 10 min brainstorm to kick start yours):
- REAL nourishing food (we are what we eat, we feel like what we eat. Once in a while, to shoo off my junk food urge I tell myself ‘I look like what I eat!’. Well literally, because it affects our skin!)
- Movement (Tip: Dance is great for mind and body as well as human expression)
- Sleep & Restful moments
- Wellness not stress.
- Pursuing activities that bring joy and transform
- Uplifting people, communities and environs
What are your boosters? Add to the above and personalise it.
2. Humans feel. Robots and AI can’t and don’t.
You know it’s what distinguishes us from the bots.
When we move, dance, listen to music, it fills our senses, instincts and we feel.
Dance is a holistic inner-outer wellness.
In these times, there’s a reason why professions like dance and music therapy have emerged.
Way before things professionalised, those of us in the arts already knew that all things creative are uplifting and cathartic. Society is starting to recognise there is a need for this.
Spanish Dance – dances from Spain – is very diverse.
One of its forms, Flamenco, has an amazing range of styles for life’s emotions – joy, sadness, angst, solitude, romance, unrequited love and more!
So if we are in touch with our own emotions and life experiences, we enable ourselves to relate to, interpret and express that style.
Even as I write this, I can hear my flamenco maestro, Manuel Betanzos, call out to us ‘¡CON SENSACIÓN’! – with feeling! or ¡DESDE DENTRO! – from within!
That’s when he sees us over focus on steps and movement with nil expression on our faces.
He reminds us it’s all empty movement if we didn’t give it the importance of feeling. ‘DÁLE IMPORTANCIA!
My Classical Spanish Dance maestro, Paloma Gómez, would say
“Dance is not just technique. It’s important to communicate what we feel within…that’s where the magic comes from.”
3. Get Social, Get involved with a community
We’re social creatures. Covid has shown what isolation does to us – from kids to the elderly.
Socialising stimulates our being, forges bonds. It gives us a sense of belonging and identity too.
Social encouragement and affirmation keeps us going on, strong.
Have you heard of the phrase ‘it takes a village’?
The life path and learning is not a solitary one and neither would you have been able to do it ‘all on your own’.
- Likely someone was there to introduce you to something
- You’ve had a teacher or guide to show you the steps to learning
- A mentor emerged to shed light, tell you honestly what you needed to hear, and be your beacon.
- A certain environment (in your land or overseas) may have provided fertile grounds for you to blossom early or late, it enabled your thoughts and ideas to flourish
- Someone may have given a lead so that you were able to get funding or a platform to materialise a project
- On the day of your event, everyone stepped forth to collaborate with their goodwill.
- And when it’s all turned out to be a success, we celebrate it together, socially.
It’s a whole environment and the people we interact with are part of our paths.
4. Gain a whole new world of culture!
Spanish Dance & Flamenco come from the vibrant culture, lifestyle and traditions of Spain
We experience the spirit of its people, their expression and life outlook. It makes us reflect on our own.
Our world grows bigger beyond the one we were born into!
We simply cannot dance Spanish Dance without getting to know the Spanish culture!
(You don’t need to go to Spain these days, because technology has empowered our access to world exposure. But better still, of course, if you get a chance to go and absorb in-person!)
For example, when we dance the Alegrías de Cádiz, know that Cádiz is a beach, port town.
Imagine the good food, good living, good weather, sun, sea and salt – all being a natural recipe for happiness.
The dance is not called ‘Alegrías’ (Joy) for nothing. So we dance it with that cultural context and affinity.
That is why I also organise the Flamenco Culture Trip to Seville, for international students to experience the art at the very source.
Hey, you can catch a glimpse of Cádiz here, when I went with my artists to film and produce our Alegrías Flamenco course (digital video-on-demand), at the very source.
Transport yourself this moment now!
And enjoy the song, music, dance of joy and freedom.
5. Personal Growth from your pursuits
When we embark on anything, it’s a chance to explore, to grow.
The. great thing when we choose a hobby or lifestyle activity is that we do it of our choice (unlike going to school and studying a standard curriculum forced upon us!)
Whatever you choose is what I call the ‘outward form‘ (ie it’s tangible, you can see and measure it).
What’s important is the ‘inner form’, the essence of who we are – such as our attitude, earnestness to learning, our mindset (eg, not giving up at the first failed attempt), how we relate to people (do we bring people down, or do we lift people up along their learning journeys?) etc.
You may not see it right away or conveniently measure it as a KPI for some organisation’s goal.
But you will sense it for yourself.
By exploring, you can get a feel of you enjoy, what delights. You can discover your potential talents.
I got into flamenco really by chance, as a hobbyist dancing just once a week only, as a Spanish language student in Australia.
Then going to Spain was life-changing and I fell in love with it.
From passion to profession pretty much describes my journey.
My human capacity would never have been able to plan or predict the path! I was simply learning and doing what I loved, and walking it forward.
Ok, so that’s over a pretty long stretch of time (like over 2 decades!).
‘But what about the now?, you might ponder.
If we focus on the moment (like even within a one-hour first class you explore, or a series of classes over time), you can simply focus on:
- How do I learn this?
- How do I make it better?
- How do I make this moment fruitful for myself? (ie, it’s an attitude of self-initiation, as opposed to relying on others to make life fruitful for you)
It does not have to be some lofty target, considering you might just be exploring for the first time.
An example would be learning a rhythm.
Listen to and observe the rhythm with the movement. And if at first, you don’t get it right away, do it a couple more times, and aim to get it better each round. (Don’t just give up, right?)
Another example would be coordinating arms. This takes quite a bit of time!
Most of us starting out flamenco will find this a toughie, at first.
I think I felt like an octopus in my first class yonks ago, haha!
Because it really takes quite a bit to move your arms along with your fingers, and then also move with your legs!
But hey, your brain is capable of giving your body the command! Remember ‘mind over matter’?
Tip #1 – Here’s one tip for ‘How to Learn‘
Do one thing at a time, starting off with just the circular arm movement (without the fingers or legs).
Once you’re assured that you can manage it with some degree of control and awareness, consider what you can take on next.
Tip #2 – Work on Quality
I always say ‘Quality over Quantity’ and ‘Quality over Choreography‘.
Because I see students wanting to acquire steps and ‘consume choreography’ in a hurry (myself included, in my early years).
My analogy is like eating a meal. Before we’ve had time to digest or internalise it, here’s another meal, and yet another, till we over stuff and have too much of it, even if it is good.
Our learning priorities get out of balance, we could lack understanding or disregard the importance of doing it WELL.
Because by then, we’re accustomed to doing it just the same old way.
So focus on quality, and find a fruitful balance.
In everything you learn and do!
The little steps and moments or big leaps will give you a give you a sense of accomplishment!
MEANINGFUL MOMENTS AND VIBRANT LIVES
We all want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.
The moments all add up.
I would encourage you to explore greatly and initiate first steps.
Putting energy and effort to search, try and risk, we often discover things that we might not have thought was possible!
And, explore with anticipation of the wonderful experiences Life can bring us.
It’s one of the many aspects of joyful living!
These are created and shaped by ourselves – our attitudes, our outlook as well as our interaction with the people around us.