Happy New Year!

Did you know that people are more likely to follow through with a commitment to change set at the onset of the new year than at other times of the year?

In light of that, let’s talk flamenco new year’s resolutions. Below I’ll guide you through a three step process to putting a flamenco new year’s resolution into place for 2017. 

But first, let’s reflect briefly on 2016. 

  1. How has your flamenco improved during the last year? Write down or make a mental note of all of the ways you progressed over past year.
  2. How did you make that happen? Review your list, and consider what accounted for each improvement. What actions did you take to get better? (Remember those; you might use them in step two below.)
  3. Congratulations! 

Now it’s time to look toward the new year and start thinking about flamenco new year’s resolutions.

Step One: Choose your resolution

What will you resolve to do? If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas:

  • To practice more
  • To attend class regularly
  • To learn some Spanish
  • To improve your form
  • To develop faster and cleaner footwork
  • To move more fluidly
  • To play castanets (better)
  • To be able to pull a bulerías out of your pocket

Grab one from the list above, or come up with your own.

Step Two: Develop a plan to make it happen

Set yourself up for success. 

Deciding on the goal is one thing, but we also must think about how we are going to achieve it. A plan is very important because motivation doesn’t happen before we do the thing it is we want to do, it happens AS we do it.

Here are some strategies you might use to help stick with the resolutions listed above:

Practice more: 
Find a friend to practice with. Set up a regular time to do it, and hold each other accountable. If you’re going to practice on your own, how often will you do it? Will you practice five days a week for fifteen minutes? Maybe you just commit to practicing three times a week for at least five minutes. A little bit every day is better than a lot one day then nothing for the rest of the month. Write your commitment down on a sticky note, attach it to your mirror, and mark off each day you practice.

Attend class regularly: 
Choose your class (or classes). Put it in your calendar. Pay in advance. This always motivates me to go to class, even when I think I don’t want to be there. Remember, we often don’t feel motivated until we’re actually in the doing.

Learn some Spanish: 
Join Duolingo, and commit to spending five minutes a day there. Sign up for a Spanish class at your local community college. Subscribe to the Daily Spanish Word on Instagram. Read The Weekly Letra each week, and study the translation.

Improve your form, develop faster and cleaner footwork, move more fluidly & play castanets: Keep these goals in mind when in class and practice. And more specifically ...

Improve your form:
Focus each month on a different body part. Maybe January will be all about elbows. Pay attention to your elbows while in class and in practice with whatever move you’re doing by looking in the mirror. If it doesn’t look right, tweak it. If you’re in class, ask your teacher for guidance. (Check out the Dance Like You're In Class With Mercedes Home Challenge or the Dancing With David Mini-Challenge for more tips on how to improve your form on your own.) Take a body technique class or workshop.

Develop faster and cleaner footwork:
Commit to practicing your footwork a certain number of times each week. Practice with the metronome or music to stay in compás and make it more fun. While in class remain present when doing any footwork. Notice how you’re executing each tacón, each planta, each golpe. Be deliberate. Check out these articles from Flamenco Bites about improving your footwork. 

Move more fluidly:
Spend a given amount of time each week studying master dancers by watching them dance in videos on YouTube or Facebook, and embed images of their movements in your mind. When in practice or class, access those images. You might also set an intention to feel your core and to feel how each body part is connected. Notice your back and abdominal muscles working as you move your arms and legs.

Play castanets better: 
Choose one exercise to focus on each week. To remind yourself to practice, set your castanets in a place where you'll see them when you get up in the morning or when you come home from work. This will make it easier to pick them up and play for a little bit. (You can find the castanets sounds (and an inspiring video) here, some practice tips here, and the sounds for all four sevillanas here.)

Pull a bulerías out of your pocket: 
Put together your dance week by week. Write down the structure of a bulerías por fiesta giving each part a separate line: Salida, Marcaje(s), Paso de Bulerías, Llamada, Patá (Desplante), Final. Think about what you’d like to do for each component of your bulerías. Commit to choosing the salida this week, next week choose a marcaje, and keep adding to your dance week by week. Practice your bulerías-in-progress in some way as you go, to compás, to a friend’s palmas, to music, to this video (which is nice and slow). By mid-February you could have a full bulerías at which point you could continue to practice it until you’re blue in the face and you can’t possibly forget it!

Step Three: Get started

Take action.

You have your resolution, you have your plan of action, now it’s time to implement it. What small step can you take today toward your resolution? Perhaps it’s just declaring it here in the comments. Perhaps it’s sending an email to a friend and asking them to join you in a weekly practice. Perhaps it’s taking a little bit of time to practice your footwork right now.

Step Four: Revisit

We want to keep this going throughout the year. At the end of each month, check in with yourself and your flamenco resolution. How is it going? If it's going well, keep on. If it's not, revisit your plan. Tweak it to make it work for you and where you're at. 

Your  Flamenco Resolution

What flamenco resolution are you setting for this new year? How will you make it happen? Do you need help developing your plan of action? Definitely let me know below.

Check out this video for info on New Year's Resolutions. It's seven minutes long and well worth the watch!

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