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Show the work: working with Sara Jiménez

"Show the work" blog series

I really enjoyed working with Sara. Tall...ish, slight and unbearably cool, I spent the better part of 8 days drinking in the greatness of this bailaora from Granada, Spain. Fangirldom aside, my curious observer self stepped out to appreciate what exactly was going on here. One thing I picked up was the complete lack of need or desire to make herself small. After two years of practicing at home and tiptoeing through a decidedly loud sort of dance so as not to excite the wrath of my neighbors, I was seeing someone dance big and brightly, with panache, and I had to leap into that space with her.

So, what happened? On Friday, 14 October, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, the latest edition of the Flamenco Certamen USA (formerly NYS Flamenco Certamen) happened. Sara Jiménez, winner of the 2022 Flamenco Vivo Prize at the Madrid Certamen worked with me and four other flamencas on a piece choreographed to music by Fernando Espí. It felt like a natural return, six years after competing in the Certamen myself. The months surrounding that showing in 2016 ended up being a decisive time for me, as they pushed me to begin making choices in support of a goal. That was when the questions of "why are you doing this?" and "what needs to happen to bring about this result?" started to come up and be downright fussy. That was when I started to understand and feel the weight of the consequences of those choices, and began to do the soul searching to move from one port to the next.

The process was refreshing in many respects, from the embrace of body, age and cultural diversity, as embodied by its performers, to the somatically respectful, invigorating and crisp warm-ups that encouraged us to consider movement differently and to allow movement to emerge from within to without. It reminded me (and the need for reminders is constant) of the pleasure of sensing the body's weight as opposed to just considering it. It reminded me of the importance of narrative and the role it plays on the qualities of movement. I didn't have a cohesive narrative exactly, but I did carry images with me, memories. There were many moments in the piece that were just reminiscent of life, from working with Chinese martial artists over 15 years ago, to the stillness of butoh and rejoicing in the familiarity of waltz steps. I can't remember how many versions of this piece exist, but this was at least the third. Lucky number three.

So, it's happened, as has the familiar comedown after an intense time of preparation. In a way, this felt like coming full circle, but I also know it's the first step in expansion to something greater. See you soon.

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