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Carlos Saura

Should I Put Myself Out There? (& Why Should I Listen to Flamenco Music?) | The Weekly Letra

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Should I Put Myself Out There? (& Why Should I Listen to Flamenco Music?) | The Weekly Letra

Thinking about that first trip to Spain in 1998 has reminded me that I need to step it up in the doing things that scare the *#%~&> out of me category. Read on for a lesson around that idea and more of my story from that first trip. Also, find out why it's essential to listen to flamenco music, read a letra about Sevilla, then see a video of Juana la del Revuelo, Aurora Vargas, and Remedios Amaya ...

During my time in Sevilla I saw these women perform. During my time in Sevilla I saw these women perform live. As you'll see from the video below, it was wonderful. Their CDs were among some of the first I purchased once I accepted the fact that I needed to start listening to flamenco music. You see, in the beginning I wasn't very interested in listening to the music, especially cante, unless I was dancing, but Chris convinced me to start listening. He said I needed to do this to understand and internalize the compás.

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Why You Shouldn't Call It Quits  . . .  (My First Flamenco Dance Experience in Spain)

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Why You Shouldn't Call It Quits . . . (My First Flamenco Dance Experience in Spain)

In 1998 I traveled to Spain to study flamenco. My plan was simple (and not very well thought out): Travel around, settle somewhere in Andalucía, find flamenco classes, find work. I had no contacts in Spain, no leads on where to study or work. I didn’t even know what city I was going to live in.

I just knew that if I wanted to learn flamenco I needed to go to Spain.

Today I'll tell you about finding flamenco in Sevilla, what it taught me about perseverance, and how it can help you.

I didn't plan much before I left for Spain. In part because I wanted to get a feel for the different cities before choosing where to settle. In part because thinking it through felt too overwhelming, and the more I thought about the details, the more I thought about changing my mind and staying put. I spoke Spanish, I had a strong desire to learn, I had saved enough money to hold me over for awhile, I felt ready for an adventure, and I knew I could figure things out once I arrived.

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Villancicos de Gloria | The Weekly Letra

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Villancicos de Gloria | The Weekly Letra

Today a villancico along with two interpretations. One is a video of La Macanita singing in Carlos Saura's Flamenco and the other is Manuel Lombo performing live at the cathedral in Sevilla.

Villancicos de Gloria

Los caminos se hicieron, 
con agua, viento y frío. 
Caminaba un anciano,  
muy triste y afligido ¡A la Gloria!
A su bendita madre, victoria!
Gloria al recién nacido, ¡Gloria! 

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Quiero Platicar Contigo | The Weekly Letra

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Quiero Platicar Contigo | The Weekly Letra

"You cannot destroy the tradition without first learning about it." - Belén Maya

I have a guajiras verse to share with you today along with a video of Belén Maya and Mayte Martín, but first allow me to give you some background:

I'm in Seattle winding down after workshops Belén Maya this week. 

On Wednesday I went to a lecture she gave at Seattle Central College.

In that lecture Belén spoke about herself as an artist.

She talked about how she expresses herself as an individual through flamenco. She talked about how she had to dedicate to studying and understanding traditional flamenco in order to do her own thing. She talked about how she danced in tablaos (doing more traditional style flamenco) at night while studying on her own and dancing in her father's company (which was more modern) during the day.

Here is a letra from that clip, and you can hear Mayte Martín sing it at 4 minutes and 50 seconds in the video below.

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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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Matilde Coral and My First Experience with a Bata de Cola (& a very important Tip)

People are often asking me about my how I got started with flamenco, about my first experiences.  And awhile back I told you I’d tell you some stories from that first year in Spain. So I’m going to tell you a story from that time today.  At the end of the story you’ll find a tip on dancing with the bata de cola, it's an essential, and you can work on it anywhere, in the bathroom, in the bedroom ...

But first, Spain

Telling you about my first year in Spain means I have to talk about Matilde Coral.

Porque es una figura.

I didn’t know it then, but my exposure to Matilde and her way of dancing would end up being kind of huge for me.  Yesterday I had a big realization about the significance of her academy having been the first flamenco school I was sent to in Sevilla.

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How I Overcame my Fear of Bulerías (and why I used to hate this dance)

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How I Overcame my Fear of Bulerías (and why I used to hate this dance)

My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear.

Not trusting my instincts.

It's no different from my main obstacle in life

I know indecision well. 

No wonder bulerías has always been so hard for me,

Not enough trust.

In a moment I'll tell you how I've let go of a lot of my bulerías fears (and how you can do the same).

Because the truth is, now I kind of can't get enough of bulerías.

It is not that the fear has been eradicated, it's that the excitement and fun usually slide it over to the side now.  Gracias excitement and fun.

But before I get into any fear eradication techniques, let me give you a bit of background:

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Whoa | Viernes con una Letra

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Whoa | Viernes con una Letra

Below is the verse.

Followed by a video - possibly my favorite sevillanas ever - of Camarón singing it, with Tomatito and Joaquín Amador on guitar and Manuela Carrasco dancing.

Sevillanas 
Isidro Muñoz

Pa qué me llamas prima, 
si me crucifica que te mire,
si me crucifica tu mirada

Si cuando me tienes te retienes  
y eres como el vuelo de tu enagua

pa qué me llamas?

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How to know what to dance and when to dance it

Today a video of Belén Maya and Joaquín Grilo from Carlos Saura's movie, Flamenco, along with an explanation of the two main types of flamenco.

Many of us learn and study long choreographies.  They are challenging and, as I said, long. Then we learn short snippets.  Which, by the way, are also challenging.

So, how to know when to dance what?

I'll get to this soon.  But first...

We've been doing a lot of tangos this year.  Mostly in a por fiesta setting.

And it's been fun.

Lots of dancing, lots of smiling, lots of attitude.  Attitude in a good way, that is.

So last week during teoría we were talking about how the dancer responds to the cante.  Well, how everyone responds to the cante, when a really good question came up.

A student wondered how everyone knew to transition in the movie Flamenco when Belén Maya came out to dance.  I absolutely love that segment.  And not just because my boyfriend is in it. There are so many reasons to love it

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I Used to Hate Bulerías (While Secretly Loving It)

My main obstacle to bulerías has always been fear, not trusting my instincts.  It's no different from my main obstacle in life.  It is what makes me so indecisive.  No wonder bulerías has always been so hard for me...I don't trust.  Wah! This realization was profound. In a moment I'll share with you some things I've come to know about bulerías…things that have made it easier, less scary to dance.  (There is also a Workshop coming up where we'll cover this in-depth...) The truth is, now I kind of can't get enough of bulerías.  It is not that the fear has been eradicated completely, but the excitement and fun usually push it off to the side now.  Gracias excitement and fun.

So, I used to haaaaate bulerías (while secretly loving it.)

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