Flamenco Dojo, Movement Mojo


My study of Flamenco dance has been vitally instrumental to a profound process of healing. There is indication that it is in my DNA – my paternal grandfather and grandmother, who played Flamenco guitar, came from Andalusia. I never met them, for my mother never married my biological father. Who she did marry, and the extreme circumstances of my arising in the Washington, D.C. area formed the basis of what needed to be healed – trauma so extensive it was blacked out of memory until a few years ago. I mention Washington, D.C. quite intentionally. My story will be told once I have found the right language, for it is timely and ultimately a testament to the strength of spirit over corruption. But I will say that the ugly underbelly we see that has become commonplace news relative to what takes place behind closed doors in our Nation’s capital has been rampant for decades. And it ultimately ain’t no big thing, in the light of soul.

The recovery of memory under benevolent conditions that have enabled deep healing has meant for me the loss of many traits that held my secret in place. Personality traits built upon trauma have been shed as a result of remembrance. Throughout this awakening, the grounding and enlivening force of Flamenco.

I have spent most of my adult life in artistic pursuit, but in pursuit of art as it applied to the spiritual. I had many mystical experiences due to the open state that was one result of extreme circumstances intentionally imposed upon me. Eventually freed of the oppressive circumstances, I was educated on the use of different art forms as perceptual tools for the exploration of consciousness and as a doorway into spiritual realms.

Awakening is a complex matter, and very simple at the same time. It is bound to be a process that is unique to each individual. It is a reductive process in that one is removing that which is overlaid on top of what is our most natural state of pure being. That state is neither awake nor asleep, it just is. Awakening is really a relative term. But overlay also has its relative reality, or seems to, and how it comes about will be unique to each individual life. Correspondingly, the removal of matrix from the diamond of pure being will necessarily be equally unique.

Because of the extreme way in which overlay was created in my situation and the remembrance that has exposed it as such, I have been given an interesting vantage point for seeing the nature of the ego’s composition. From my perspective it is comprised largely of conditioned responses as learned through experience within family and other human tribe social structures. Trauma plays a big role. It forms as if an anomaly, a mass of energy that one adopts adaptive behavior around. Triggers and filters formed will help to amass more energy around that anomaly. A reality structure is thus created. This stuff is embedded into our muscles, affecting how we carry ourselves, how we walk, how we view the world.

To give an example of what I mean, after several years of unraveling memory and gradually strengthening in the process one day I woke up from a dream indicating a new layer was about to be uncovered, and I could hardly move from the pain located in my groin which had no physical basis, such as an injury. The pain lasted a couple of weeks until finally I was guided to see that the gripping sensation was my own rage. With full acknowledgment and acceptance of that buried rage, my memory awakened to a very specific category of brutal events. And with remembrance, the pain went away.

In learning new movement we will encounter postural habits that are not only physical but have corresponding thought/feeling. These habits have formed through repetition, unconsciously. To learn new movement, especially movement that bypasses the range we normally are limited to in our lives within social structure, is an opportunity for awakening.

I have learned that what we do, our activity, in and of itself does not matter so much as the consciousness behind that activity. And because Flamenco is such a demanding, complex, and endless art form, particularly for those of us not born into the culture, I have found it to be an excellent tool for expansion of consciousness. To learn is a lifetime dedication. But there are elements of it – such as the development of listening attention through deep repetitive listening of rhythm, for example – that can yield healing results within a relatively short period of practice.

To choose to practice counter rhythm with the metronome of a turn signal at a stop light instead of letting my thoughts of tardiness get the better of me has resulted in better living. Taking thought/feelings of oppression into the dance studio and applying myself to practice of footwork instead of falling into patterned thought that feeds negative states has helped in my ongoing awakening.

As I said, awakening is a tricky process. We are trained through media and our social conditioning to glorify negative states and unconscious behavior patterns such as the disease of consumerism. We are unaware of how we think and to become aware of our own thinking processes and the underlying beliefs we have unconsciously adopted about the nature of reality is a very difficult thing. We need help, and like Flamenco, you really gotta want it. Meditative, mindful practices certainly help. And by working with the body we can both see our unconscious patterning and begin to make changes. The body can often prove to be easier to work with than the mind.

Posture leads to mood – this is something I witnessed in some of my theater training. I’ve learned some esoteric movements, called unlocking postures, designed to key us to deeper levels of concentration and corresponding consciousness. There are other practices that I will be introducing in the upcoming workshop that can help us bypass our usual learned and conditioned postures with their corresponding thoughts and emotional patterning. It is my intention to provide a safe space for the exploration of this work with movement and rhythm and a forum through which one can gain practical data that can be applied to one’s life, to awakening, to healing. If you are local, I hope you can join me in Flamenco Dojo, Movement Mojo. Experience has taught me a lot about how movement and rhythm can be used to benefit our lives in ways that will surprise and delight. And delight’s a good thing to pass along, don’t you think?


About gracekellyrivera

I am a perfumer and an artist of multiple disciplines located in California.
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