Maria went to Holland to create a career for her daughter. Bringing her daughter to class with her, she used flamenco to remind women of a kind of femininity.
Maria: In the south of Spain, it’s still machista [male chauvinistic]. When I come back to the south of Spain, I still feel that it is difficult as a woman at a certain age to be free. For example, I was in Holland and in other countries, and I liberated myself from collective memories of the women: women who were submissive and oppressed.
When I sing and dance flamenco, I have to connect with the pain, because flamenco comes from pain. Pain can be a power: you can wake up through pain, no? Like with fire. Flamenco is that for me; through flamenco I am awake, and I use it to develop consciousness. This was my instrument to liberate myself to become a free woman. Flamenco was my instrument to give a life to my children, to fight against a system here that wants to make me a victim like my mother—no, I use flamenco and I was famous, instead of a victim. Flamenco was a gift for me.
I show a lot of women through teaching flamenco to feel this power too, which is very beautiful. When I went to Holland, I was 25 and a little older, but my older daughter was already 8, and she came with me to my flamenco lessons. In Holland, women are very free, they are equal to men, but they are not in touch with their femininity. In the thirteen years I was in Holland, these women came to my lessons where they could express femininity, sexuality, and power at the same time with flamenco. I had a group of women and they were the best dancers, and there were also a lawyer, a judge, and a journalist among them—all career women. They saw me at a young age teaching them how to dance with my daughter next to me. This was a group of 12 people and at the end of the course of the year, 9 of them were pregnant. They were almost reaching an age they could not have children anymore. They were feminine women but very masculine in their way to achieve success only in their profession. They were suddenly inspired by the music and me and my daughter! They connected with their femininity and these are the moments I saw how I could change people’s lives. It’s a power.