I know, who knew, right? If you read my books or this blog you know I never mentioned this. In the books, (Spoiler Alert), I couldn't make it fit what with telling the story about how Nokosee and I got married, survived a devastating surprise attack by Army Rangers on a moonless night deep in the Everglades that decimated the New Seminole (NS), and the birth of our daughter, Haalie.
I learned about the flamenco connection-- and his family's passion for it-- on a "Movie Night" when we were all gathered in the family chickee on an Everglades hammock hidden by camo netting. Nokosee's dad and the Chief-Dreamer-Upper of the NS, Busimanolotome Osceola-- Busi, for short-- promised me something special when he slapped a DVD into the player (Yes, we had electricity-- read the books). But I should have known something was up when all of them kicked off their tennis shoes and boots to strap on.... tap shoes.
"What, you have to wear special shoes for this show?" I asked.
"They're flamenco shoes," Nokosee replied.
Trust me, I had no idea I was about to get flamencoized by the Osceolas. The DVD was an old black and white video of Jose Greco strutting his stuff on the Ed Sullivan Show back during the early '60's. I knew a little about flamenco but this was an eye-opening moment when the Osceola family got up and started dancing under the thatched roof. I came to the conclusion that you haven't really heard flamenco until you've heard it under a thatched roof chickee on a plywood floor about three-feet off the ground. I'm telling you, once everyone got started to stomping their feet, clapping their hands and yelling, the Everglades shook, birds scattered from the trees in droves, alligators resting on hammock banks threw themselves into the water and deer, once hidden, magically appeared and disappeared hopping across the sawgrass horizon. In fact Nokosee told me he uses flamenco to hunt deer, that he strings his flamenco shoes around his neck, tucks a big piece of plywood under his arm, and traipses off into the Everglades with his trusted bow and arrow. When he suspects deer are nearby, he climbs out of the water onto a hammock, drops the board on the ground, straps on his flamenco shoes and starts to dancing and clapping his hands like crazy while "flamenco yodeling." When he sees one jumping over the sawgrass, he whips out his bow, strings an arrow, and lets it fly. Whether or not any of this is true, I can't say because I never saw him do it. Plus, Nokosee is a great kidder and takes immense pleasure in seeing how far he can string me along on some absurdity. Which, if you read my books, is pretty far because from what I've seen, I believe he can do anything.
Anyway, the Osceolas were good. Very good. And man, that's gotta be the most sensual dance ever. I wanted to try it too and jumped up. "Me next," I shouted with a raised hand and a big goofy smile. Nokosee was quick to ditch his 14-year-old sister Jerriragni for me by stomping the raised log and plywood floor before machine gun stepping-- zapateado-- over to me like some kind of to-die-for sexy beast matador.
I quickly discovered I had a lot to learn.
First off, the Osceolas are serious about their dancing. They had little patience for my learning curve-- and Jerriragni was the worst. I had stolen her dance partner and she punished me by barely talking to me. But I hung in there and over time got them to at least shrug that maybe, just maybe I might get it after all.
But I got so into it I wanted to take it further. I noticed right off that flamenco and Native American music and dancing have a lot in common. I thought I'd combine them. So with a belated begrudging admiration from Ma and Pa Osceola and their bipolar brat daughter, I came up with a hybrid flamenco dance that borrows from Native America. I call it New Seminole Flamenco.
If you're not familiar with flamenco, here's a sample of what's happening with the dance today, starring Jesús Carmona, one of flamenco's best.
One of the most mysterious parts of flamenco dancing is called duende. Accordingly, it has been described as "a spiritual significance that goes beyond human understanding." The poet Federico Garcia Lorca said that duende can "only be present when one sensed that death is possible." Further, it is not uncommon for flamenco performers to be possessed "by the dark tones of the song and the spirit will enter the mind and soul of anyone who opens up to it."
I learned this only after feeling a connection between flamenco and Native American music, singing, and dancing which is muy simpatico with dancing with the spirits. Check this out below and see if you agree.
But it ain't the same without Nokosee in my arms.