The city walls and pavements were still warm from the hot of day. People walked by, stood still and the street theater filled up slowly. Musicians sat down on their little stools and practiced some tunes. As to reassure themselves their fingers had not forgotten how to dance over the strings.
The Spanish sun flared between the white towers of the old Burgos cathedral and cast lazy shadows on the curious crowd. There were firm grandmothers dressed in floral dresses, with thick wrists, and thick-rimmed glasses. There were students drinking and catching each others’ eyes. Even some fellow artists had dropped by.
The tap dancer took it all in and inhaled faster than he wanted. It wouldn’t be long before he was on. Small beads of sweat formed on his forehead. Then, he closed his eyes, flexed his ankles and pushed out the air in his lungs.
The driving Flamenco rhythm of the guitars silenced the crowd. A wave of sound flushed through the square, swirled around and into every ear. For a moment the music took away sorrow, anger, even fear.
Little children were quiet and sat cross-legged in eager anticipation.
This was his moment, his time to be at the center of it all. With clenched fists and determined steps he reached the middle of the stage, turned and noticed hundreds of eyes fixed on him, on his body, his posture. Without blinking he looked back, his chin held high, and he caught his audience with a steady stare.
He kept it small at first. Like the slaves who started tap dancing as a silent protest to their suppressors. A hidden, secret dance almost. No big gestures with his arms or hands, just his feet rhythmically tapping the floor, again and again and again. Only slowly he increased his force and pace.
While musical phrases started to form a vivid conversation and his feet kept striking the floor, an electric tension was building. We could feel it. He, could feel it.
I was one of the guys in the audience. After another long Camino day I had settled down to see the show and it was beautiful. After a humble introduction the tap dancer danced increasingly exuberant but without losing control. Fire was burning in his eyes as his body moved to the music.
I felt most of my anxieties just melting away. I wanted to rock from side to side, wanted to cheer and clap my hands, move! As my neighbors clearly felt the same we clapped and danced together.
This guy completely transcended himself and I was struck by the sheer power, conviction and confidence he radiated. He was admirably free in his expression, did not seem to care what others would think of his eccentric performance.
As he was able to put in his heart and soul, he managed to pass his elation to the crowd and to me.
There was great beauty in the way the tap dancer became one with his dancing, in the way his authentic expression united us.
What this guy did was extraordinary. Then again, whether you are the performer or an active listener, music tends to help us reconnect and it does so with immense force. This is what the tap dancer reminded me of, how music caters self-expression, whether you perform or listen. Treat yourself to some of it now and then, it’s such genuine and wholesome fun..!