November Solo Audition: Too much competition or not enough

By Kasandra “La China”
November 18, 2009

November has rolled around in a blink of an eye and I find myself hosting the second Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy Solo Auditions once again.  This time, we have 4 soloists turning out for the auditions which is up from 2 in July.  I guess I should not be complaining since the turnout is 200% up from last time, but my only thought is, “Where are the peeps?”

The idea of hosting solo auditions comes from my deep respect of flamenco as a solo art form. We teach many classes during the week and these classes perform group choreographies, but flamenco in its truest form is a “cuadro” which means a dance soloist performs with a guitarist, singer and a palmero who does handclapping.  Flamenco is an interplay between these “jazz” members and sometimes the best performances come about when something goes differently than planned.  So to respect flamenco, we are hosting Solo Auditions so that our students can prepare, plan and expect this event each time our school goes to performance.

I hope to encourage students of various levels to come out and perform individually…and in so doing, find out more about themselves and their relationship with flamenco.  Is that too much to ask?  Is this too much competition?

I grew up in a competitive classical music environment, and remember performing in front of a live audience by the age of 5 and competing in front of an adjudicator by 8.  One might question “Did this do me any harm or any good?”

On one hand, we as Canadians want to be fair, honest and non-competitive.  These are admirable traits.  As a nation and culture, we are very highly self-actualized so we can think in this manner.  We have lots of natural resources, money and abundance.

But folks, ever live elsewhere in the world?  I lived in Singapore in 1993 for a year and man, this Canadian missed the bus.  Being my Canadian self in the sweltering 32C heat and 98% humidity, I let everybody else onto the air-con bus and waited my turn.  I missed two buses before I figured out that, Dang Kasandra, get yourself in gear and do what everybody else does.  Butt in front of the line to the front door of the bus and shove into the AC.

Would I say Canadians are complacent?  Not necessarily, but I would say we are relaxed.  We are relaxed because we usually get what we want, if we don’t get it right away, we get it later if we wait.  And that is why we are relaxed.  We are lucky to live here.

How does this relate to flamenco?  Well, I would say that it would behoove students to challenge themselves a little, get out of their comfort zone and put themselves out there as a soloist.  It’s frightening and freaky yet an amazing experience out of which comes some very valuable lessons about life and oneself.

No guts no glory. 
No pain no gain. 
Just Do It.

I recognize that flamenco is a lifestyle and that there are a number of students who put a lot of time and energy into it.  Why else are people in class 3 or 4 times a week?  Why am I still teaching people after 10 years?  Because the flamenco bug is addictive and people cannot stop.  It is boundless and there is so much to learn.  The final frontier is to live and breathe in the moment, and dance in the moment.

I’d like to congratulate these folks for stepping up to the plate on Friday: Farnaz Ohadi, Kate Pattison, Susan Biali and Kelty McKerracher.  You are role models and an inspiration.  Everybody has won.  You’re all winners in my book.

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