Ravenna Flamenco

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Winterfest 2009: An Update on Renegade Limbs

posted in performance on december 6th, 2009
film still

So I’m coming up on three years playing with La Peña Flamenca de Seattle this year and I can’t help but notice that there have been certain regular markers of the passage of time along the way. One of these is the Seattle Center Winterfest show–which just happens to have taken place last weekend. In looking back over my archives, it appears I didn’t write a blog post about it last year (probably because of my PhD exams), but I did write up a blurb about it for the year before (2007).

Here’s a bit of what was on my mind post-show two years ago:

I’m not particularly afraid about getting up in front of people, but my nervous system gets weirded out by public appearances. Tragically, this is what connects my brain to my hands. For this show, at least, “the claw” (my fellow guitar player Markus’s moniker for an oh-so worthless set of panic-frozen fingers) didn’t keep me from getting the job done–most of my job was chording, really. In any case it’s a condition I wouldn’t at all mind getting over.

Being an irremediable nerd at heart, I take no small pleasure in documenting the sundry vagaries of performance, anxiety, and the link between the two. As such, I was curious about how things would turn out in a similar performance situation two years later. The reason is this: The question I really wanted an answer to in 2007 was, “is this the kind of thing that gets better, or am I stuck with anarchic limb syndrome forever?”

Well, I can’t speak for every performance occasion–I would imagine bigger or more complicated shows to be a different ball game–but as for the Winterfest show (for which we played for a couple hundred people, all the same) the news is good: I didn’t feel even so much as an elevated pulse, let alone full on nervous system rebellion.

Granted, my hands were cold through nearly the entire 45 minute set, but this is something I can live with. It is irritating, yes, but not debilitating. Having played a number of full length shows with my little flamenco cuadro, I’ve actually come to expect that my hands won’t warm up for at least three or four songs. Again, a drag, but not fatal.

The subtext here is that in between the 2007 Winterfest show and last weekend, I’ve played “out” a lot more than once or twice a year. There have been better and worse shows, of course, but so far I’ve yet to see any catastrophic relapse into neurological mayhem for the kind of performance situations I commonly see.

Of course, this is just me–results may vary, see your doctor, etc.–but for anyone out there who wonders why his or her hands won’t cooperate when they’re needed the most, and, more importantly, if it ever gets better, here’s a vote for “yes, it does get better.”

And here’s the moral of this story: Get out! Play!

(Which is what I’m going to do right now)


tags: pena, dr. strangelove, nerves
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