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she pouts her lips

published: 2011-05-10

She carries her silence within her, whispers as she tells us to bend forward, hands on the floor. One leg, then the next. Slowly, very slowly. At first my legs hurt, burn, pinch. And then, after a while, they soften. Because I have taken that time. Next, we stand on our toes in silence. The leather of my dancing shoes crack, audible proof that my feet are struggling to stay still.
The American girls walk in late. They do not rush, they are simply late. They sigh, take sips of their water, chew gum. They roll their eyes at each other when the teacher uses yet another half hour to explain how we are to move our hips side to side while stepping. It may look like a sway, but it isn’t a sway. The teacher keeps making a pinching gesture in front of her ribs. Hold everything tight right there. And her hands forms a neat little box around her torso. A contained hip movement, therefore, within the perimeters of flamenco. We are not to let go, we are to hold back. And meanwhile we are to keep our shoulders still, stretch only the sides of our torsos. Our heads are not to tilt inwards, the way we think flamenco dancers look like. No the movement is up, up from our heels to the back of our heads, creating space in our ribcages.
We are still talking about one single step. Just one step with one singular movement of the hips. In trying to get it right, my body has started aching all over.
One of the American girls leans against the wall, still chewing their gum. “I’m taking the advanced class tomorrow,” she whispers to me, “I mean this is soooooooo slow.”

I say, “I think this is really challenging.”
“Oh but no. It’s just like salsa!”
I can do salsa. I can’t do this.
It is now the American girl’s turn to move along the diagonals of the room, showing us the exercise. She sticks out her hips, her entire upper body sways along with it, her stomach is soft, her shoulders twist sensually, she pouts her lips.
“See?” she says to me, “easy peasy.”

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