The guitar begins to play, simply at first, and then with so many notes it seems there must be five instruments on stage instead of one. Then a voice, strained and mournful, fills the space. I enter, head held high, skirt moving in rhythm. A deep breath, a pause before a flurry of footwork, arched arms and swirling skirts, and I feel beautiful. Of course, I also feel nervous, and sometimes even a little unsure of the choreography, but there is something about being on that very humble stage that makes me feel undeniably beautiful.
Flamenco is a dance that demands unwavering confidence, bravada, and soul. I have never watched a professional flamenco dancer perform and thought, "Poor thing, she must have low self esteem." Sheepishness is not an option. Beauty is unavoidable.
I am far from a professional flamenco dancer, but I perform in our class recitals with everything I’ve got. In flamenco there is magic in everything: the music, the movements, the ruffles lining my skirt, and the silk flowers in my hair. I am transformed for those few minutes, under the gaze of my family, classmates, and strangers, into a flamenco dancer with passion and confidence and beauty.
In my daily life, I often struggle to stand up straight. I am almost six feet tall and have a natural desire to get my head closer to the ground. But when I dance flamenco, my shoulders are back and my arms reach up and out. I take up space like I own it.
On an average day, I’m lucky if I apply five minutes' worth of makeup. I don’t “do” my hair (unless you count a 10 second top knot), and the only jewelry I wear is my wedding ring. For a flamenco performance I apply a full face, complete with thick black eyeliner and bright red lipstick. My hair is secured with a hundred bobby pins and adorned with flowers, and I wouldn’t be ready if I wasn’t wearing earrings that almost graze my shoulders. It is all this special attention to appearance, and the fact that it is a costume, not the norm, that helps me project that flamenco bravado.
There are many things that make me who I am and that make me feel beautiful. These include being mother to a son who thinks I am “pretty like a mermaid,” and wife to a husband who still looks at me like he did when we met twelve years ago. But being a flamenco dancer makes me unique. It is something extra, and just for me. It is my alter-ego.
The trick is to bring some of that special confidence to my everyday life. Maybe a little red lipstick is all I need to remind me to pull my shoulders back while pushing that grocery cart. Maybe all it really takes is a touch of mindfulness. Because there is truth in that moment on stage when I feel beautiful, the kind of truth that can transcend performance and seep into the everyday. Even on an average day, when I am a nose wiper and tantrum queller, a boo-boo kisser and story teller, a personal chef and never finished launderer, when I am a mom, a wife, and an employee, I am still … a flamenco dancer.This post is part of BlogHer's My Beautiful Moments editorial series, brought to you by Olay.