Flamenco Dancing Makes Me Feel Beautiful

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.

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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, made possible by Olay.

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