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Saetas

Studying Flamenco in the midst of life and death
DISCUSSED

Hamburgler Rings, Being in Love with Death, Yvonne Rainer, Slate Records, Articulations of Torment, Greenham Commons Women’s Peace Camp, Emma Goldman, An Exoskeleton of Anxieties, Meaningless Sounds, Marxism, A Shifting Testosterone-Cortisol Balance, A Cross Between the Most Fantastically Intricate Sci-Fi Architectural Drawings and a Hug

by Catherine Taylor
December 5th, 2018

When I turned 50, I started to study flamenco. I was looking for a way to revive myself, and maybe my world, or at least part of it.

My 50th year had been cold and classic. The earth’s rotation had picked up speed. At night, star trails striped the sky. In the day, just panic. So many things I couldn’t do over. Or even just do. So little time was left. “With one’s hair flying back like the tail of a race-horse,” as Virginia Woolf wrote, “Yes, that seems to express the rapidity of life, the perpetual waste and repair; all so casual, all so haphazard.”

It was the usual story. After an early wildness, I’d doubled down on duty, and it had changed me. An exoskeleton of anxieties made it hard to move. Age had made me babyish;  I felt robbed. Every time I graded a student’s paper, I stapled on some dreams. Fine, take them. Eat me. And then, friends began to die—bodies falling apart, exploding, eating themselves, coming to an end.

That was the year my parents moved to a retirement home. Longview. My dad cracked, “No need for the long view when the story’s almost over.”

There, every day fades the same. It is like an illustration of the culture—institutional, antiseptic. Sometimes dear, mostly dreary. Nobody there feels the weather; many never leave the grounds. Nobody there goes to a dark bar where people are singing together. Nobody there is dancing.

I wanted to turn away from this future, but towards what?

Salida. Exiting.


 

I took some students to Highgate Cemetery. Deep in the leaves, we saw a gravestone with two epitaphs divided by a thin slash, as if one must choose either dark thought:

c’est la vie / be still

The approaching end made the days seem futile. It didn’t help that our planet was ending, too.

But, in the graveyard, I realized that I’d forgotten about Heidegger’s Sein-zum-Tode—the beautiful necessity of being-toward death. The ecstasy of possibilities provided by the future and its end. The way the death that lives inside you can take you outside yourself, and is thus not only a life force, but an ethical force, too.

Being and Time had been buried by errands. As had being and time.

Babeo. Repeated, meaningless sounds such as “bababa” in the middle of words.


 

One night, a friend called to say she was performing in a flamenco show with some guys from Spain and I should come. It seemed mildly embarrassing, but I went. The club vibrated recklessly. It was pounding, feverish. It was a dark mess, but the gestures pierced me like a book.

Also, half the dancers were older than me. Their vitality shamed and excited me.

Jalear. To stimulate a performer, to encourage with words and/or palmas.

Jaleo. Vocal encouragement given to performers, when the audience calls out such phrases as eso!, arsa!, olé!, toma!, vamo!


 

It was almost too much. Like ecstasy and rapture. Ecstasy means to be out of one’s proper place and rapture shares a root with abduction. Flamenco’s disorienting capture felt like vertigo, like syncope. In medicine, syncope means the plummet from self and surrounding, the swoon.

In language, it’s when a single word collapses inward in order to become more fully itself. As in cam(e)ra. As in mem(o)ry. As in op(e)ra. Or when words buckle under the speed of thought or the crush of desire; the smooth black road of a sentence broken and folded in on itself in rough ribbons. Whatever is lost doesn’t matter. The meaning is made in the forward motion.

In music, syncope is the buckled knee, the drop and gap of syncopation. In her book, Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture, Catherine Clement says, “Attack and haven, collision, a fragment of the beat disappears, and of this disappearance, rhythm is born.” In syncope, she locates a sudden loss of self, the ecstatic gap of rapture, in which, “our most deeply held beliefs… no longer exist.” When one returns, she writes, “it is the real world that suddenly looks strange.”

Contra. “Against the beat” or syncopation, an accenting of “off-beats,” an opposition that is vital to a flamenco atmosphere or “aire.” Desgarro. A rip or a tear; wilderness; heartbreak.


 

Something had begun. At home, El Lebrijano wailed on repeat. A vital portal. Flamenco’s allure was not just its dizzying rhythms and heartbreaking cries, but the audacity and agelessness of its artists.


Arranque. Spontaneous outbursts of uncontrolled emotion that a performer may emit.


 

I started looking for more icons of audacious aging in flamenco. I stumbled on this guy in Julio Diamante’s 1976 film, La Carmen. His hips, his hands, his smile.


Pellizco. A pinch, a nip; small, spontaneous gestures or whimsical movements used to heighten the effect of a dance. like a cook’s pinch of salt or spice, it adds flavor, and is often saucy, juicy, flirtatious and funny.


 

Look at Cristina Hoyos. Being feisty. Wearing some Hamburgler rings and refusing to keep her seatbelt securely fastened. Being an older role model. My tedium-fear was cracking.

¡Toma que toma!: Take it!; ¡Vamos alla!: Let’s go there!; ¡Vamo’ ya!: Let’s go!


 

I built a small cathedral of clips. Especially of Carmen Amaya, pushing fifty here. Her frequent partner, renowned flamenco guitarist Sabicas, said, “I saw her dance and it seemed like something supernatural.”

¡Agua!: Water! It’s so hot, I need water!; ¡Asi se baila!: That’s dancing!; ¡Asi se toca!: That’s playing!; ¡Asi se canta!: That’s singing!; ¡Eso es!: That’s it!


 

One day, on the bulletin board at the food co-op, a poster advertising a flamenco workshop appeared. I went, and it pried everything open. A little space appeared between every piece of air.

It is one thing to listen to the music. It is another to stand in front of the mirror and begin to dance. Even badly. Stand up. Lift your arms. Now the hands. What is the word for the flamenco rotation of the wrists?  It is yes. Or maybe, oh yes. Or, what the hell was I doing all those years before this? You should try it. Try it right now. Head up. Then, slowly the wrists. A fuera. A dentro. To the outside. To the inside. A route opens. When you straighten your spine and raise your arms, confidence begins to rise. It is chemical and historical.

After class, the teacher said, “You should go to Spain.” This, of course, seemed like an impossible luxury. I have the usual children, work, money problems, rigid routines. But I walked home, opened another tab, and got on a plane.

Martin Munkacsi, San Fransisco MoMA

Llamada. A call. It is the way a flamenco dancer signals to the musicians that a change in the dance is about to occur.

 


 

Off the plane, everything accelerated. My child and I ran down the jet-ways and the escalators and along the taxi queue and down more escalators to make the last train with empty seats for a week (all booked for Semana Santa), the doors closing seconds behind us, and then a very clean bus with very blue seats, and then a long walk to the cheap apartment in the part of town that had a cineplex, and then, still on the first night, at 1:00 am, this happened. It was a good start.

Yes, I took that shaky video with my phone and it would be better to show you the movie a real filmmaker would make of this moment, with just the night sky and then the virgin, covered in candles, carried slowly by the grunting men hidden beneath her. But maybe this clip works if you look at just one corner and watch it peripherally, like in a dream when you can’t quite turn your head to look at the event that is flooding you.

The event was flooding me. I said, “Is this my life?” and cried. The woman next to me in the crowd smiled and kissed my cheek.

Suddenly, I knew that while this beautiful moment would never happen again, that was okay.


Bruscamente. Suddenly.


 

That procession was interrupted by this saeta. A saeta is not quite a song. It is a sung expression of longing and devotion. Saetas go back to the 16th century, but along the way picked up tones from flamenco, and flamenco singers, in turn, picked up the saeta.

A saeta expresses a kind of gratitude stung by grief. A saeta pierces a paean with a lament. It felt precisely pitched to my mood, which I had begun to think of as the mood of the time.

After this, we were swept up by the crowd and quickly learned: Just move towards the next moment of devotion.

Saeta. A passionate serenade of reverence to Christ or the Virgin, usually sung without accompaniment during Holy Week. It includes influences from Arabic and Hebraic styles, and is often compared to the Muslim call to prayer.


 

Saetas are sung to the figure of mother as she is moved through the streets. One has a door cut into her chest. A massive iron lock, a missing key. The gap around the door gapes, but you can’t see inside her. It doesn’t matter; nothing in there could mean more than the cavity itself. It hurts to see her; but the saeta makes the pain beautiful.

The word saeta can also mean the hand of a clock, an arrow, a dart, a bud on a vine, a magnetic needle, How is it possible to keep all those meanings resonating? The passing of time, the painful barb, the new growth, the pull to navigate it all.

One night, I dreamt the saeta was a puncture or a wound; a fist through a paper wall. In the dream, I was looking for ways to sing through the broken parts. I woke elated.


 

In the first weeks, there was still a lingering feeling that being older meant that nothing was as precious and as full of potential as it once was. Little olive trees slipped past the train window. Tree, row of grass, tree, row of grass, power station. Pretty patterns but nothing attached to them. The clickety clack of I’ll never do this, I’ll never do that. But small moments peeled this off. The concrete factory’s yellow girders and blue metal wheels, a red dump truck idling, time spent trying to find a way to write about the non-contradictory tedium and shimmer of the daily. The irrefutable significance of the insignificant.

At first there were no leaves on the trees and we wore all of our clothes—coats, hats, and mittens even as the sun shone. Then there were lemony dots hovering in the trees. Then airy swaths of pale green, purple, yellow, white. Then seven shades of green. Then a uniform canopy descended and there was shade for months.

Aire. The atmosphere or ambience of a flamenco performance.


 

We trade knit caps for straw hats. We drink short beers and tinto de verano. Every day, I say I am as happy as I have ever been. We live in a dorm room with two narrow single cots and we share a bathroom and a small kitchen with students who come and go. An older woman from Denmark, a guitarist from Southern California, a young man from Laos who lives in Paris, a postman from a small town in France, many teachers, many, many Germans. One wears a drug rug and practices his guitar at all hours on the roof where there is a washing machine and several clotheslines. Terracotta roof tiles everywhere in the foreground, a distant view of the snowy mountains. I wear a black plastic jacket every day. I wear lace-up boots with fake fur every day. I wear my new earrings: brass hoops with little seed studs.


 

I spend all of my money on flamenco classes. Planta, tacon, tacon. The teacher says, “Zip yourself up from your cunt to your breast.” The entire room rises and I don’t know how to name the fierceness that fastens us together. It feels like everything I ever wanted. I know this isn’t quite right, since I’ve wanted different things at different times, so maybe what I’m trying to say is that a feeling of rightness arrived with these new interactions—this regimen, this rhythm, this physicality, this musicality, this practice, this community.

Planta. Striking the ball of the foot on the floor. Tacon. The audible drop of the heel on the floor. 


 

My classes occupy me fully. Codo means elbow. Rodilla means knee. Tobillo means ankle, Muy pronunciado means very steep. Adquirido means acquired. Me llena means it satisfies me, it fills me up. The classes exhaust and complete me. When I come home, I lie down and keep the shutters closed. My t-shirt is always damp and sweaty. I think about kissing and open my mouth to the air. The patterns of the dance repeat even when I am lying down; they won’t leave and this is confusing and pleasurable. One teacher tells us to tip our foot outward to show off its “lady parts.” My ankle hurts every day. “Don’t just do the steps,” she says, “dance.” I make a kind of friendship of glances with the body next to mine day after day. Some days, there is a raised eyebrow about the other woman who races ahead of the beat. No corré! the teacher yells. No corré! Joder. You’re fucking us up. Uno dos tres. Quatro cinco seis. Seite. Ocho. Nueve. Diez. Un Dos. Uno dos tres. In the changing room, it is so loud, you have to shout in five different languages. There is more Spanish than English, more English than German, more German than Japanese, more Japanese than French. Everyone is racing, stripping off stretchy tops, baring sweaty breasts, wriggling into dry tops, stepping out of silly long black lycra skirts. Then falafel at Schwarma King with the sweet smiling Moroccans. Climbing the hill to bring food to my boy. Passing the amber Alhambra every day. Cobblestones. Sore feet. Heaven. And the music is great, and the people know me, and we laugh together, and work, and it is sunny, and we go to watch our heroes and teachers, and we spend time in caves painted white and we have coffee at the bar where Manuel, the bartender, helps us with our Spanish, then school, where people are laughing up tenses and vocabulary with Cecilia. Bajar means to go down. Hacer el amor means sex. Every morning, I put a band-aid on a blister on my heel, lace up my shoes with nails hammered into them, scales of silvery hardware tap tapping, and strain to follow Judit’s feet. Listen to the pattern. Do it. Do it again. Do it again. Do it more. Keep going. New muscles on the side of our lower legs. For a while, it seems there is no other life.

Palos. The different types or styles or song forms of flamenco.


 

I found I needed research and writing to form little blocks to slow things down between the songs.

Sometimes, research let me fold into the intensity. But sometimes, it just shamed me. Flamenco belongs to someone else’s culture, is detached from my world, and the distance was awkwardly apparent. I read Roland Barthes saying that detaching is what artists do, and I clung to this idea as a kind of permission.

Or maybe I was just churning in the work machine, reflexively spinning life into capital and letters. Precarious and scared and working to death. This bit of Bifo seems about right:

“It seems that ever less pleasure and reassurance can be found in human relations, in everyday life, in affectivity and communication. A consequence of this loss of eros in everyday life is the investment of desire in one’s work… the effect produced in everyday life is that of a generalized loss solidarity.”

Palo Seco. Without accompaniment, alone.

 

I returned to Barthes. He said:

“The painter ‘detaches’ a feature, a shadow, if need be enlarges it, reverses it, and makes it into a work… In this, art is the contrary of the sociological… political sciences, which keep integrating what they have distinguished (they distinguish it only to integrate it the more completely). Art is thus… always perverse, fetishistic.”

While “fetishistic” usually refers to the compulsive use of an object for erotic gratification, sex is not what Barthes is getting at. He’s more interested in the separation of the artwork from all of the social realities that underlie it; art’s deviant divide between itself and its original contexts. Either way, flamenco is my fetish.


 

The allure of flamenco is not new. Some of the earliest wax cylinder recordings Edison made were of flamenco musicians in Spain, especially in Cadiz where Edison promoted his new invention, and the first woman to appear in front of Edison’s cameras was flamenco dancer Carmencita. Born Carmen Dauset Moren in Almeria, Spain. Both John Singer Sargent and William Meritt Chase painted her portrait. Filmed in March 1894, “Carmencita” was produced by W.K.L Dickson and shot by William Heise for the Edison Manufacturing Company. It was occasionally banned from peephole kinetescopes “because she displayed too much leg and too many undergarments.” 


Atravesarse. Changing the guitar part during a song, eliminating parts and making it new, riffing in a way that might challenge the dancer to follow the changes.

I disappear into Gonzalo García Pelayo’s super-sexy flamenco-filled film, Corridas de Alegría.

Flamenco’s postures enflame me.

And so I give in.


 

This is Antonio Gades. Born, Antonio Esteve Ródenas, 1936, in Alicante. I love this photo. It slays me, makes me remember every moving image of him dancing I’ve ever seen. The pause. The focus. The tensile limbs.


 

Gades said, “Flamenco is not what people think it is.”

The light in the trees is interstellar. The time-traveling magical object beyond his hand is an unknown space for displacement, a weight to hold whatever it is he wants held.

A rustling in the dark leaves, prickling light, the stars.

To see Gades dancing is to swoon. A pleasure swelled by the knowledge that he was a dedicated lifelong activist, a Communist, married and buried in Cuba. When the Spanish National Ballet fired Gades for his political activities, dancers in the ballet followed him and together they formed a collectivized company. In interviews, Gades said his life had been dedicated to labor.

His extra-temporal glamour, his magnetic Marxism, his moving beauty. How to sing a saeta to all of that?


 

Look at him laughing and holding a “no left turn” sign with poet Rafael Alberti, who was, like Gades, already as far left as he could get.

Photograh by Colita

Golpe. A solid stamp of the foot.


 

Alberti was a member of the Generacion del 27, a Marxist, an exile, and founder of the revolutionary magazine Octubre, which he began after seeing the burning of the Reichstag. Alberti reminds us, “You know the Spaniards fought the fascists, the totalitarians, and the fascists won and ruled this country for a lifetime, from 1939 to 1975.”

Gades’ final work of choreography was Fuenteovejuna (1994), an adaptation of Lope de Vega’s play honoring workers’ solidarity.

Some days I watch clips of him dancing, and cry and think, “I want him back” as if I ever had him.

Here’s Gades with Pepa Flores, “Marisol.” Child star. Singer. They married in Cuba where Fidel Castro and prima ballerina Alicia de Alonso were their sponsors. Flores was the mother of several of his children. They divorced. When I see this picture, I only see myself and my guy back home. Because love, or eros, and its lack, are also, always, part of the story.

Muñecas. The graceful motions of the wrists and fingers. Often compared to the fluid swoop of birds in flight, the willowy movement of trees in wind, the twining of vines, or anything blooming. Also called Flores.


 

Listening to Flores sing “Deja de Llorar” in this scene from Carlos Saura’s “Carmen,” I can’t stop singing it with her. Stop crying. Stop suffering. In the scene, Gades is not listening to her; he’s hunched over a tape player playing Bizet. Gradually, he turns up the other woman’s voice until he drowns Flores out. This, of course, is part of the story. It is a story within a story within a story. The story of Carmen. The story of the production. The story of their marriage.

I had been looking for many kinds of escape, from the doldrums, work, aging, difficulties at home. Sick of words, I had wanted a move into the wordlessness of dance. But I also wanted eros without the complications of relationships, or jealousies. Or maybe a way to express jealousies without enflaming them.

Alain Badiou writes of, “the kind of secret resonance that is created, in the most intimate individual experience, between the intensity life acquires when a hundred percent committed to a particular idea and the qualitatively distinct intensity generated by the struggle with difference in love.”

True, but sometimes, we feel the resonance of ambivalence in activism and love. Sometimes, the problems of commitment or vitality in both spheres hollow us.


 

But we can recommit. Gades said, “No art without discipline. No discipline without sacrifice.”

I go back in time to watch him working and burning through a seguiriya with Cristina Hoyos in the late 60s or early 70s.

Zapateado. Footwork. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with taconeo.


 

On the other hand, in Spain, our new friends and teachers school us in the need for leisure as well as discipline. They say, Don’t just learn Spanish, learn to be more Spanish. I read John Dos Passos, who writes:

“I told him what the donkey-boy had said of America on the road down from the Alpujarras, that in America they did nothing but work and rest so as to be able to work again. And America was the modern world. And lo flamenco is neither work nor getting ready to work…. ‘Something that is neither work nor getting ready to work, to make the road so significant that one needs no destination, that is lo flamenco’.”

One day, I decide to take a break from work, and take the train to Madrid to shadow another hero. A saeta to Yvonne Rainer wouldn’t be sung because it would have to be a cross between the most fantastically intricate sci-fi architectural drawings and a hug.


 

Another day, I travel to the coast to see my first teacher from home and her teacher here. On my phone, there are two short videos of three women dancing in a tiny dark room. Women over 50, over 60, laughing and drunk and dancing to pop flamenco at 4am. In the background, you can just see a row of glamorous 20-something young women sitting watching us. Their male friends sit just out of frame. The women look cool and mocking. They look either embarrassed or uncomfortable. They are stuck to the vinyl bench. We invite them to dance but they shake us off. I feel a little sad for them, briefly, but so happy for us. The older women look so very happy.

Jarana. A “spree” when a group enjoys themselves doing flamenco.


 

I go back to the studio in the cave. The teacher yells, Make more noise with your feet! Harder! Too weak. Be stronger. Find your power. You need it. Think what you can do if you find your power. She is very, very serious. The school’s director, Carmen passes the window in her green leather motorcycle jacket. I miss a step. The teacher shouts: Lean forward! Tip your hips! Stand up straight! I follow her orders, feeling as if I am gearing up for a battle as my return date approaches.

Payo. Sometimes thought to mean the Caló (Romani) word for non-Gypsy, but is in fact prison slang for an easy mark, a sucker.


 

At home, I was addicted to the bright portal tunnel of friends. It went with the century.  Here, its absence helps, but some days, I walk to the storefront to sit alone at the row of clunky boxes made defunct by devices. People said that last year you couldn’t get a seat amongst all the Somalis; this year, either they got phones or they got deported.

I pay a few coins and see the latest black American to be killed by cops in the place I can’t stop thinking of as “my country.”  This is all that seems to happen at “home.” In this store, there isn’t enough juice to push the pixels to watch the whole video. Still, some days I try. Body cam freeze frames. The side of the car, the driver’s side, the driver. Now he’s dead. The back of the car, the back windshield shot out, the car on the side of the road, the driver dead. I don’t click on the boy in the gazebo. It is unbearable. Then a bomb drops in Palestine. In Pakistan.

I sign out and swear off, but does refusing to be a voyeur also mean refusing responsibility? This seems like an idle thought. I don’t let myself delete it. Offline, Trump is still rising, but offline, I avoid the paralysis of despair. I could try to avoid going back there, but it seems impossible. “My” sick nation. I know I need to stand up.  I think about the fact that I am training daily to do just that and will myself across the literal-metaphorical divide. I tell myself that my new posture and its shifting testosterone-cortisol balance could remake me, citizen-partisan.

Siguiriya. A style that is at the core of cante jondo (deep song), a wail of outrage against one’s fate in the world, an articulation of torment, sorrow, and despair.


 

My teacher says, “flamenco is not a way of dancing, but of living” and I believe her. She helps me draw little blueprints that show how this practice is a model for immersion in the social, in encounters with others outside of work and outside of entertainment. She says that by dedicating ourselves to learning these historical forms with other people, we gain crucial skills and attitudes. She says we are activating something vital that allows us to do things with other people, to be together and to work together, and there is so much work to be done. She says we have to learn how to enter the collective and it cannot be done without pleasure.

I like the near inverse of this statement, too: “The practice of happiness is subversive when it becomes collective.” (Radio Alice / A/traverso)


 

Flamenco becomes (maybe it always was?) a passage to something else, something like: resolve, determination, assurance, nerve, confidence, boldness, verve, élan, strength, drive, resilience, and resistance.

I dance and then I try to write about dance, but my desire to dance is stronger than my desire to write. Silvia Federicci said, “Nothing so effectively stifles our lives as the transformation into work of the activities and relations that satisfy our desires.” Dancing satisfies my desires, so I stop writing about it for the rest of my time in Spain.

Vuelta. Turn.


 

When I get home, I can’t find a flamenco class in my small town. But that’s okay. Flamenco has become an open channel, a conduit to a red idea, to stamping your foot and finding your rage, to the desire to be transported both into and out of despair, to orienting despair towards a different horizon—something vital, something not deadly, but nonetheless in love with death. Flamenco has become the skull on the table that says life is short, but every minute opens. How to sing this saeta? I listen to Pastora Pavon (one of the form’s primary interpreters), looking for clues in the wild ravine of her singing.

Pavon made more than 80 records with more than 350 songs. She used her time well. She was one of the pioneers in recording what were known as slate records as most 78s in the early 1900s were made from shellac, soot, and powdered slate. She was called a somber, agonizing angel. Listen.


 

One newspaper said, “When she is singing, she seems to be crying.” Critics said she had a special ability for microtonal singing. If you listen to her version of the Siguiriya of El Marruro, recorded in1928, you can hear her singing the sounds between the notes.

Pavon was Lorca’s muse. In 1922, she sang at the Concurso de Cante Jondo Lorca helped to organize in Granada. Lorca said Pavon was able to open a way for “a furious enslaving duende, friend of sand winds” because “she was able to kill all the scaffolding of the song.”


 

How does one kill the scaffolding of song? Or an essay? Or a life? Or anything else too rigid to live with.

What if we said, as this film does: “now it is time to open a second parenthesis.”

Desplante. A moment in the dance that marks the end of a section, a climax when the dancer pauses for acknowledgement and the encouragement to continue.

One that allows us to cut from dance to dance.

And from the firecracker of Carmen Amaya

Look she is still rising.

To some other firecrackers.


 

This is Emma Goldman in Union Square, New York, in 1916. In 1972, a t-shirt appeared with a quote attributed to Emma Goldman. It said: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” Sent to the t-shirt printer by feminist writer Alix Kates Shulman, the original quote, from Goldman’s autobiography Living My Life, was a little different.

What she really said was:

“At the dances, I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.

Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world–prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.”

Emma Goldman also said, “Today is the parent of tomorrow.” I find I no longer mind that I’ll be old in that tomorrow or that might not live into it. I took the flamenco cure.


 

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the parents of today. I’ve been thinking of the year I spent living near the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, while my family home was just down the road from its sister protest, the Seneca Women’s Encampment. I never went to either, thinking, I’ll do that later. And then, later, it seemed too late. But I was wrong.

Remate. A way to end, either by raising a pitch, changing to the major chord, or simply speeding up decisively.

Seneca Army Depot

 

When I got back from Spain, I didn’t find another dance class, but I did find friends busy with a new vitality—busy getting arrested: for clean water, for justice, to be alive while living. Friends who are trying, even if the effort comes to nothing, even if the world is ending and there is no tomorrow. I join them when I can. I adore them. I respect them. I wish I could sing a saeta worthy of them.

A saeta for the world and its end.

Coletilla (Little Tail). A final song to end the section, the song, or the dance. It is sung as the dancer is exiting.

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