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How To Get The Most Out of A Flamenco Dance Workshop

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How To Get The Most Out of A Flamenco Dance Workshop

Does the thought of taking a flamenco workshop with a master artist from Spain fill you with excitement or fear? 

If you're anything like me you feel a little bit of both.

Here are some steps you can take before, during, and after a workshop to help manage any overwhelm that comes up:

Before the workshop

1. Decide what you want to get out of it

Set a workshop goal.

Do you want to master the choreography? Improve upon a specific technique? Get inspired? Become a better learner? Implement the teacher's personal styling? Simply have a fun experience?

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Four Ways To Improve Your Flamenco Class Experience

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Four Ways To Improve Your Flamenco Class Experience

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:

ONE

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I Went to Therapy

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I Went to Therapy

This is about getting therapy accidentally.

Accidentally and without a lot of work.

It's something you can try too.

Here's how it happened for me once...

An excerpt from something I wrote last summer:

Thursday was tough. For various unforeseen reasons. I wanted to just stay home and feel sorry for myself.

But, I didn't.

Well, I did for a bit, but then I made myself go to class with Danica.  

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How to turn the Wrong Class into the Right Class

Ok, so here's the part two to yesterday's post that I promised you.  Where I tell you how to turn any class into an ideal class for you. Because sometimes class feels too easy.  And other times it feels too hard.

I've been in both situations.

And here's what I've discovered

When class feels too easy, it's usually because I've got my lazy pants on. No seas floja, Laura.

When class feels too difficult, it's usually because hard-on-myself me has taken over. Tranquila, chiquilla. 

We can get a lot or a little out of class

And it's really up to us.  I mean it.

Basically there are two main concepts we need to understand, one to make class harder and another to make it easier.  But before we get to those, some specific ideas on how to make the most out of whatever class you find yourself in.

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A Dose of Difficulty, por favor

It was November 2012, and I was in Jerez.  My exotic pets had all gone home, except for one that is.  And I kept getting messages, important messages... November 7, 2012

I started getting them about a week ago, the messages.  Or that's when I started hearing them.

They were sent on various occasions.

But always during class.

And they were all more or less the same.

Occasion #1  |  Monday morning at the peña

Things changed in bulerías this week.

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I Have Been Going Crazy All This Time... Impressions of a Workshop

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I Have Been Going Crazy All This Time... Impressions of a Workshop

We had FUN with Ricardo.  (If you missed him this time, don't cry, he'll be back...)

What one student had to say

(It really moved me...)

"Thank YOU so much!  I had an amazing time this weekend with you, Ricardo, and everyone at your studio.  I am really just blown away, in so many ways.

Laura I have not danced in at least 4 years.  No exercise, no dancing, nada.  I have been going crazy all this time, with this love inside me, trying to channel it through cante occasionally but most of the time having no outlet.

I have been scared I couldn't make it,

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Students, for you... Mercedes Ruíz | The Third Interview - La Tercera Entrevista

And the third installment of interviews with Mercedes. If you missed our previous conversations, you can find one here and the other one one here.

Today we find out about her family's response to her dancing.  She comes from a non-flamenco family.  And we learn why she loves to teach.  Enjoy.

A lone flamenca in the family

¿Alguien en tu familia baile o hace algo con el flamenco? No y además no le gusta el baile ningunos de mis hermanos.

¿Does anyone in your family dance or do anything related to flamenco? No and on top of things none of my siblings like flamenco dancing.

¿Pero les gusta el flamenco? No, nada nada nada.

But do they like flamenco? No, not at all.

Head shaking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, no.

Pero vienen a ver tus espectáculos, sí? Mi hermana solo.  Tengo cuatro hermanos que no.  No les gusta nada.  Y yo creo que no tienen ni idea del nivel, o sea que yo pienso que ellos piensan que yo bailo sevillanas o algo.

But they come to see your shows, right? Just my sister.  I have four brothers, and they don't.  They don't like it at all.  I don't think they have any idea of the level.  In other words I think that they think I dance sevillanas or something.

Pero que interesante.  ¿Cómo puede ser?  ¿Y eso te importa? Bueno hay que respetarlo.  Las decisiones.  Si ellos no les gusta.  Bueno ya estoy acostumbrada.  Para mis padres que realmente son los que me han ayudado muchisimo.  Mi madre.  Cuando era pequeña los dos me apoyaron en lo que quería.  Nunca me prohibieron nada.  Y ahora estoy intentando pues darles todo lo que ellos me han ofecido.  Se los intento dar en el escenario.

How interesting.  How is that possible?  And does this bother you? Well, I have to respect that.  The decisions.  If they don't like it.  Well, I'm used to it.  My parents really are the ones who have helped me so much.  My mother.  When I was little they both supported me in whatever I wanted.  They never prohibited me from doing anything.  And now I am trying to give back to them all that they have offered me.  I try to give it to them on stage.

Entonces a tus padres tampoco les gusta el flamenco?   No, claro.  Les gusta ahora que estoy yo pero si yo no hubiera bailado yo creo que en mi casa no habia escuchado la palabra flamenco.

So your parents don't like flamenco either?   No, of course.  They like it now that I do it, but had I not started dancing I don't think you would ever have heard flamenco in my house.

On being a teacher

¿Qué es lo que te gusta de enseñar?  Porque tomando tu clase, yo creo que te dije que en Jerez me sentía un poco desorientada, muy diferente que la gente allí pero cuando entré en tu clase me notaba mucho que a tí te gustaba enseñar.  Y me sentía muy bien al estar allí. Me encanta enseñar.  Me encanta.

What do you like about teaching?  Because in taking your classes, I think I told you, in Jerez I felt a bit disoriented.  I felt so different from everyone there.  And I came to your class and I could tell how much you loved to teach.  And I felt so good being there. I love teaching.  I love it..

Y quiero saber, por qué te gusta?  ¿Qué es lo que te da el enseñar a la gente? Porque aprendo muchísimo.  Los alumnos me enseñan también a mí.  Me enseñan entonces como aprendo.  Me gusta luego que el alumno ver algo que yo he montado que sea capáz de hacerlo.  Me llena igual que cuando me subo un escenario.  Es como cuando me subo un escenario y me sale bien una coreografía pues igual.  Me siento muy orgullosa.  Y la verdad que los alumnos me enseñan muchísimo también.

And I want to know, why do you like it?  What do you get from teaching people? Because I learn so much.  The students teach me as well.  They teach me, and I learn.  I love to watching a student when they are able to do something I choreographed.   It fills me up the same as when I go on stage.  It's like when I go on stage, and I perform a piece well; it's the same.  I feel proud.  And honestly the students teach me so much too.

Aprendo muchísim0 - click here to listen

¿Y Pastora, ella va a bailar? Ahora está bailando un poco.  Un pocoquillo, un poquillo.  Con el rojo.  Y no vea.  Todo el tiempo con los tacones.

And Pastora, is she going to dance? Now she's dancing a little bit.  A little bit, a little bit.  With red.  Unbelievable.  All of the time with her high heels.

More from Mercedes coming your way this month, so stay tuned.

And on that note.  Perhaps you have a question for Mercedes?  lf there's something you want to know, tell me.  Leave your question(s) in the comments.  And, of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the interview as well.  ¿Tienes una pregunta para Mercedes o algún comentario?  Déja un comentario.  

The trip.  It's coming up, very soon.  Mercedes is catering workshops specifically to us.  Interested in coming along?  Sign up to get the details.

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Ricardo's Take

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Ricardo's Take

Today, find out how Ricardo López approaches a flamenco workshop.

As you know, Ricardo is coming, so I thought you might like to get his take on the student's role in a workshop.  And, yes, he himself still enjoys taking workshops. And why wouldn't he?

They are incredibly fun

They provide a chance to study with someone new

And a format for learning new things

No matter your level.

I know that workshops can seem overwhelming at times...

and hard, difícil!  

He knows this too.

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Viernes con una Letra | There's more to the story

Last week you read about how his love had arranged to see someone else at la Puerta de Toledo. And here is the next copla.

Sevillanas
Tradicional

II. Me decía que iba a misa, mare, y me engañaba
Y me engañaba
Me decía que iba a misa, mare, y me engañaba
Y me engañaba
Si no llevaba rosario, ni libro
¿Como rezaba?

En el mismo sitio 
A la misma hora 
Estaba rezando  
Con otra persona 

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Viernes con una Letra | A La Puerta de Toledo

A La Puerta de Toledo
Tradicional

A la Puerta de Toledo, madre, le tengo celos
Le tengo celos
A la Puerta de Toledo, madre, le tengo celos
Le tengo celos
Porque se cita con otro 
La mujer que yo más quiero

En el mismo sitio 
A la misma hora 
Se estaba besando 
Con otra persona 

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And Then, the Smiles

In the past weeks I've noticed something.  For those of you who've been reading, you know that I am trying to make this year all about noticing.

Anyway, in class I've seen people coming in with all kinds of expressions.

Many people wearing the kind of day, or week, they've had on their faces. Class gets going, and there are concentrated looks, which is exciting.

And then, the smiles.

I've been seeing lots of smiles!  

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