Today I share with you a Lorca piece, café de Chinitas along with a video from Compañia Rafaela Carrasco. Emilio will be dancing to this in his own way this weekend; I can’t wait to see what he does.
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There's going to class. And then there's going to class and getting the most out of it. Today I'm going to talk about the latter, about how to get the most out of your flamenco class (or workshop) experience.
Ricardo López is constantly giving us tips when he comes in town for workshops. Perhaps just as helpful are little phrases I hear him say over and over again in class. He doesn't really intend them as tips. They are reactions, spoken in the moment. But, oh, these little comments have a lot to tell us.
So, here you go, four comments from Ricardo and four pieces of advice gleaned from them:
Today I’ll guide you through activity for finding roundness in the arms.
we hear Mercedes Ruíz say in class.
Ricardo says it all of the time too, redondo. 'You’ll like her, she’s muy redondo,' he’s said to me so many times referring to various dancers. Round, he means, by the shapes created when someone is dancing. It doesn't matter what shape your body is, you can create roundness.
For today’s challenge we’ll focus on finding roundness in the arms.
Lately I've had bulerías on my mind . . . I've been watching bulerías, listening to bulerías, dancing bulerías (in class, at home, in my head).
Naturally, the moves I'm currently working with during the 10-Day Dance Like You're In Class With Mercedes Ruíz Home Challenge are por bulerías.
So, today I offer you some bulerías inspiration via a video of Manuel Liñan dancing and a letra that David Carpio sings to him. There's also a quick activity for you at the end of the post. (I know, I'm big on activities this week.)
How did the slow practice go for you yesterday?
Today, on our sixth day of the challenge, I'll share with you an activity to practice using the skirt with our non-dominant arm. (You'll also find a video below of Mercedes Ruíz doing just that.)
Mercedes in huge on using your skirt in class. Not twirling the skirt around as you dance or doing a million things with it but holding it, being aware of it.
During our beginning of class exercises the back arm is almost always holding the skirt.
Yes, that back arm that we can tend to forget about.
Holding the skirt inspires us to pay attention to the placement of that arm.
Today I'll share why we need to practice slowly and give you an activity to help you do that, but first, some reflections:
I’ve been working with the same combination throughout the challenge, and I’ve found that with each new daily focus I also revisit all of the prior days’ areas of focus. In other words, I go through each new activity and (without a conscious plan to do so) layer the skills addressed in the previous challenge activities. It actually seems to have become impossible for me not to be aware of them when in challenge mode, and I’m loving that. How about you?
Now let’s move on to today’s challenge.
As you know, Mercedes Ruíz is big on doing things slowly.
As are so many other professionals.
It's time to begin the Dancing With David Even Though We're Not With David Mini-Challenge, yahoo! Read on to discover today's strategy for improving your dancing from home . . .
Now I know you may not want to, but please, look in the mirror.
This is essential.
Especially when you're at home with no teacher there to correct you, other than the David (for the purposes of this mini-challenge) inside your head.
You must look in the mirror
Allow the mirror to become your imaginary teacher, and listen to his corrections.
Once you’re finished reading this, I want you to get up, go the the closest mirror, do a move, and notice,
How do you look?
If something doesn’t look right, consider your basic technique,
How are you holding your elbows?
Do you need to move your arms farther away from your body, or closer perhaps?
For seven days I danced as if I were in class with Mercedes Ruíz, in my own way, just as you may have done in your own way. Seven days of class without class. Seven days of "dancing" wherever we were in whatever way we could and in whatever way we wanted to.
And now that the challenge is “over,” I want to look at how it doesn’t really have to be over.
I share below three ways to easily grow as dancers on any given day and in any given place. Whether you participated in the challenge or not, you can benefit from doing these three things. After that I’ll share some gains (expected and unexpected) that I've taken away from the experience.
Three (relatively) easy ways to keep the challenge going:
(... even if you didn't participate in it)
Grateful for the trust that allows me to do certain things that I fear. Things that I really want to do. Things that make my life richer. Without trust, I would miss out on so much.
So, thank you, trust.
Some good things
have happened since my trip began. And I've already learned something very important.
On Monday I went to the Portland airport.
As you know I stayed away from castanets for quite some time. I had my reasons.
Which I’ll share with you today along with the best thing you can do for yourself when starting out.
Let’s begin with my reasons for having avoided castanets for so long
Reason #1: Rebellion.
In part I was rebelling, at least that’s what I told myself.
Rebelling because when I would mention that I danced flamenco it seemed just about every other person would assume I played castanets,
"Ohhhhhh, so you play those things,” making motions with their fingers, “that make the clacking sounds?”
“No, I do not play those things, and actually you don’t need to play those things to do flamenco,” I’d say.
It’s true, one does not have to play castanets to do flamenco, but there was certainly a little bit of defensive me who-didn’t-know-how-to-play-so-don't-ask-me-that talking.
And then there was Reason #2,
An estribillo por bulerías for today:
de no tenerte a mi vera
ay te camelo,
ay te llevo en mis sueños
Ricardo is here, and I’m already disappointing him. He arrived on Tuesday, and it didn’t take long.
I’ll tell you about the desilusión and share three dance tips (Ricardo López) from his class last night. Three tips that are important to keep in mind at all times.
First, the disappointment
There’s really a lot of me feeling disappointed with myself going on.
Why didn’t I study before he came?
Why didn’t I make it a point to remember things he’d taught me in the past?
Why don’t I just pick things up quickly and do them well right away?
Why haven’t I been working on my technique more?
It started on Tuesday when he arrived.
Me and the bata de cola.
You could say that there’s really no excuse for me not being able to dance well with the bata.
Because I’ve had several experiences, various opportunities to learn.
I'll tell you about a one of my favorites today, and after the story, I'll tell you why you should study the bata even if you don't ever want to dance with it, and I'll share with you another bata need-to-know.
A [very] brief history of my bata experiences
You know about the first,
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.
People are feeling nervous.
Nervous and anxious about the Student Showcase on Saturday.
I know this feeling. Well.
So I thought I'd repost these tips today, performance tips.
Whether you're performing in front of your friends in class,
at a show in front of the public,
or even just in your own bedroom in front of your cat,
There are things we can do to ease our nerves ...
I know that workshops can seem overwhelming at times,
Ricardo López, one of my favorite guys ever, knows this too.
And yes, even though he is a professional dancer who travels the world performing with people like Rafaela Carrasco, he still enjoys studying and taking cursillos.
So I want to share with you three suggestions from Ricardo that we can use in class.
And after that I'll talk about how his tips can help us outside of the studio as well.