It's September, so let's do a little first day of school, getting-to-know-eachother activity. I'm actually not kidding about that. People have been inquiring about my 'flamenco journey' so below I tell you how it began for me. (Later, why not tell me how you became interested in flamenco?)
My Introduction to Flamenco
I was a junior in college. I was struggling through Spanish class.
The professor spoke only in español which basically left me feeling like a Charlie Brown character being mwoah mwoah mwoahed at for hours upon end.
Every day we would watch this educational novela, answer questions related to the day's episode, and then "discuss" it. I rarely knew what was going on.
As you may have gathered, I did not particularly enjoy the class. While I constantly felt confused, behind, and overwhelmed, I am full of gratitude for the experience,
You see, had it not been for this class, I'm not sure I would be dancing flamenco today.
Here's what happened
The teacher wanted to expose us to Spanish from Spain so that we could hear how different it was from the Mexican Spanish we listened to in our telenovela.
We were given a list of subjects, instructed to choose one, directed to the language library to watch a video on that subject made in España so that we could then report to the class about it.
I perused the list and saw flamenco. I recall none of the other choices. Just that one word,
So I went to the library, found the video, and watched.
I don't remember much, some images, some scenes, but what I remember very clearly is feeling.
Feeling all kinds of feelings as I watched.
I remember seeing this intense (and short) Spanish man pounding a bastón to the beat, or was he doing palmas? I remember a line of young women wearing black skirts, stomping their feet, and moving their hands and fingers while he yelled things at them, things I didn't understand of course. They all looked so serious, so intense, so focused. I didn't understand what was going on. I didn't understand the strong feelings being provoked in me.
But I was captivated,
And as scared as I was feeling, I knew that some day I would learn to dance flamenco.
It's not that I hadn't heard of flamenco before.
My dad had a couple of records with flamenco songs on them.
As a little girl I loved going through my parents' record collection and looking at the covers. One album, Spain, was a favorite of mine. I loved the bright pink color and bullfighter attire on the cover. My parents tell me that my sister danced along with José Greco when she was little while watching him on TV, perhaps I witnessed this. When I heard Paco de Lucía and Camarón once I had become interested in flamenco, they seemed familiar. Like I had heard them before.
But, it was that particular Spanish class in college, watching that video, seeing that class in Spain, that made me want to dance flamenco.
Two and a half years passed before I actually did it. Stay tuned, and I'll tell you why soon.
I want to know about you. Whether you're a student, aficionado, dancer, singer, guitarist, tell me how it happened for you.
Why do you do flamenco?
How did you become interested in it?
What keeps you in it?
How does it make you feel?
You get the idea.
Long, short, it's up to you. You might want to comment on why you do it now, not why you began. You might want to touch on both. Maybe you write one sentence, maybe a list, or just a word, or three paragraphs.
By the way,
I originally posted this in August of 2011 and began gathering reader stories to compile into a page about you. I absolutely loved the comments people posted. Unfortunately, something strange happened to my site, and those comments are no longer visible. (sad face) The good news is that they can all be found here. I would love to add your story too. Please share your story in the comments below.
Some Spanish from the Story:
agradecimiento - gratitude
bastón - cane
Why Revisit This Post Today?
About a year ago I asked in a newsletter what people wanted to read about in my book. Many readers told me they wanted to know about my beginnings in flamenco, my struggles along the way, etc. I realized I haven't shared enough about that here, and it's time for that to change. So, to start off, I wanted to revisit this post. On top of that, Renae at Flamenco Bites sent me some interview questions for the My Flamenco Story series (where she and her partner José share flamenco stories from students all over the world). Anyway, the first question she asked was, What is your first memory of flamenco? I read it and remembered that I had a whole post addressing that question. You can check out that series on Flamenco Bites here. Did you know that the first installment came from our very own Seana Yee?
EDIT: You can now view the comments on this, the original post!