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Ana María López

Bulerías Heart & Soul: An Interview With Ana María López

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Bulerías Heart & Soul: An Interview With Ana María López

What does it feel like to have been the first teacher to some of the most famous flamenco dancers from Jerez?

That's a question I asked Ana María López, one of the most influential flamenco instructors in Jerez, Spain, in the video interview you'll see below.

Sitting down with Ani . . . 

In the interview Ani, as she's affectionately known, talks about how she grew up surrounded by flamenco in the San Miguel neighborhood of Jerez, began studying dance as a little girl, and later grew into one of the most well-known bulerías instructors around. She has been the primary teacher to some of the greatest flamenco dancers working today such as Mercedes Ruíz, Patricia Ibañez, and Carmen Herrera. Naturally, we study bulerías with her during the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. Watch through to the end of the video where you'll see her in the studio demonstrating how to dance bulerías with the cante and feel the joyful essence of Jerez.

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What's a Cuplé? (Part 1) | The Weekly Letra

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What's a Cuplé? (Part 1) | The Weekly Letra

In the first installment of the flamenco cuplé series I'll explain what a cuplé is and show you a video example. But let's begin by looking at this one that Ani sang one day during bulerías class on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. It was so pretty, so I asked her to tell me the words:

¿Quién se ha llevao mi amor?
¿Quién me ha dejao sin nada?
¿Quién se ha llevao todo el sol
que entraba por mi ventana?

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Quality Before Quantity | The Weekly Letra

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Quality Before Quantity | The Weekly Letra

Today I want to share a bulerías dancing tip with you along with a letra.

Let's start with the tip

When I'm in Jerez on the Flamenco Tours, Ani offers all kinds of quick and dirty tips.

Here's one:

Calidad antes que cantidad.

Quality before quantity

Sometimes it's so enticing. We're exposed to a bunch of cool steps. We can't stand to leave any of them out, so we try to squeeze them all into one pataita. 

And things get sloppy

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A Student's View of Learning to Dance Flamenco in Jerez

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A Student's View of Learning to Dance Flamenco in Jerez

A couple of weeks ago, Virigina, a Flamenco Tour alum, sent me the following account of her time on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. If you're curious about what happens on the Flamenco Tour, read on... 

My Trip to Jerez

by: Virginia O'Hanlon

I have danced and taught Afro Cuban, Haitian and Brazilian dance for many years. I'm the sort of explorer who likes to "go to the source" so I have gone to these countries many times on dance/study trips. There were a few great trips, some ok, and two really miserable experiences. 

I'm fairly new to flamenco -had 2 years in at the time of this trip- but became intrigued by the "por fiesta" dances so I started looking around for ways to study in Spain, particularly Jerez. I discovered Laura's trips, and it seemed like a structure that would work well for me, so I went last October. It was without a doubt one of the best, richest experiences that I've had, and here are some reasons why.

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Two Take-Aways from Two Days of Class in Jerez

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Two Take-Aways from Two Days of Class in Jerez

I've got two flamenco learning tips to share with you today. One from Mercedes and one from Ani. We're on day two of Flamenco Tour classes, and the classes have been going like this:

Technique with Mercedes in the morning. Bulerías with Ani right after. Then choreography and castanets with Mercedes after lunch and siesta. 

Everybody loves Mercedes. Everybody loves Ani. All is well.

Class with Mercedes

The ladies go in and out of concentrating on the steps and being mesmerized by Mercedes and her magnificence.

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How Old is Too Old to Begin Dancing Flamenco? (and a Must-Watch video)

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How Old is Too Old to Begin Dancing Flamenco? (and a Must-Watch video)

When is it too late to start learning flamenco? Find out below and watch a video of Mercedes Ruíz dancing as a little girl along with a bulerías clip from Carlos Saura's Flamenco Flamenco.

According to Mercedes Ruíz, "It's never too late do what you want to do." Sure, she began dancing flamenco at the age of four, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are doomed.

I began dancing flamenco at the age of twenty three, or was it twenty two? Pat began when she was sixty nine. Becky began when she was forty four. Many of the dancers I know began in their thirties, forties, fifties, and even sixties. Many danced at a young age then stopped for various reasons only to come back to it years later.

We can begin dancing flamenco at any age

And there is no 'retirement age' for flamenco dancing. We can leave it and come back. And we can continue dancing flamenco as long as we want to. This is something that I absolutely love about flamenco.

It is a dance for all ages.

Older flamenco dancers are in fact respected and honored. This is part of the flamenco culture. (See video clips below.)

A younger dancer may have different goals than an older dancer. And one's desires as a dancer may change over time, just as desires around all things in life will evolve.

But the bottom line is this,

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Part 2: How to Simplify Your Bulerías (And Your Life)

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Part 2: How to Simplify Your Bulerías (And Your Life)

This is a story about how doing less in bulerías can serve us well. It's the follow up to the previous post on observation. Read on, and find out how to simplify your bulerías and perhaps even your life a bit too.November 2013, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

She said she was going to show them how to dance on a losa.

Pequeña,

Y por fiesta.

Small,

And party style.

It was Ani who said that. Ana María López. She said it on a Monday morning in Jerez.

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Part 1: Four Dance Tips Learned from Monday Morning Observations

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Part 1: Four Dance Tips Learned from Monday Morning Observations

A story on the value of observation from a past Flamenco Tour (followed by four bulerías take-aways):

Sunday night I was writing

About flamenco and Jerez and what I'm doing here and what I want to learn here.

And I set some intentions for the week.

I had a few.

One was to Observe

To observe people dancing bulerías. Especially people whose dancing I liked. In class and out. Anywhere and everywhere.

To watch them, really watch them. And to notice what was happening.

To notice how they responded to the cante.

To notice how they danced with the compás.

To notice when they did what they did.

To notice the things I liked.

To notice the things that worked.

Maybe even to notice the things I didn't like.

And to notice the things that didn't work.

On Monday morning I went to bulerías class

That was the day Ani taught the ladies about dancing on a floor tile. I'll tell you about that in the next post.

It was also the day she read my mind.

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Three Things to Remember When Dancing Bulerías

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Three Things to Remember When Dancing Bulerías

I have some more bulerías advice from Ani for you about feeling good today. But first,

Let's talk briefly about steps

Because you learn a lot of steps in in bulerías class.

You could say they are just steps.

To play with.

To practice.

To try out.

To hold on to. (Or to let go of.)

They can even be thought of as tools for understanding how the conversation works.

But going back to the liking them thing...

One day in Jerez

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How Understanding Green Bananas Will Help You Dance Bulerías

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How Understanding Green Bananas Will Help You Dance Bulerías

I want to tell you about green bananas. Because knowing about green bananas will help you when it's time to dance bulerías. (In Jerez or anywhere really).

And so, a short story from Jerez

Tú vas a comer un plátano verde?

This is what Ani asked Ana.

Ani is Ana María López, the bulerías teacher.

Ana is a student from Russia.

Un plátano verde is a green banana.

You don’t eat a green banana

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How to Navigate Transitions: Lessons Learned from the Transition That Almost Gave Me a Nervous Breakdown

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How to Navigate Transitions: Lessons Learned from the Transition That Almost Gave Me a Nervous Breakdown

My biggest issue with bulerías when I got to Jerez was transitions. Well, ok, that’s not really true, my biggest issue after fear. But the transitions.

It was like all of a sudden I couldn’t see them.

And I didn’t know what to do.

I've since learned how to approach difficult transitions more gracefully. (I'll tell you how in just a moment.) I'll also explain to you in detail the transition that almost gave me a nervous breakdown along with some things you might like to know about "counting" bulerías de Jerez.

But first, allow me to give you some background ...

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Stop thinking, and Dance

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Stop thinking, and Dance

Ricardo asked me how things were going here in Jerez.

I told him everything was great

Everyone was happy. We were hearing tons of flamenco. Doing tons of flamenco. Learning a lot. The weather was nice...

"Todo bien," I told him, except that I felt like my body looked weird when I danced.

"Andaaaaa. Tu cabeza si que es rara."

"Come on! Your head is what is messed up," he told me.

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