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?
It’s the final day of the challenge. Olé, you made it!
How did yesterday's activity go? Did it feel good to just put the music on and dance not worrying about all of the other stuff? For me, letting go and dancing in this way is a great form of therapy.
Let's get on with the final challenge.
Today’s exercise is designed to help you keep the challenge going in class or in your home practice.
I remember when I first studied with Mercedes. I felt so overwhelmed with all of the classes I was taking, coming in toward the end of the year, perhaps trying to do too much. So many things felt impossibly hard. ‘I can’t,’ ‘No way,’ ‘Impossible,’ Thoughts like this were constantly running through my head. I even declared them out loud. “No puedo,” I would tell Mercedes. Or, I would just stop dancing.
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.
You've heard me talk about Ani and her bulerías class and about bits of wisdom I've learned from her. I want to share another bit today.
It's one of those things she said that sent me scurrying to my notebook. I didn't think much about it when she said it. I just knew it was importante and that I wanted to write it down.
In bulerías class you learn steps.
But you don't have to do them.
You can. Or you can do your own. Or someone else’s.
So, yes, you learn steps.
But you're really there to learn concepts.
As most of you know I went to Albuquerque earlier this month to Flamenco Festival Internacional. Festivals are intense. Intense can be good, but it can also be, well, fuerte. Preparation can help. So...
1. Choose a festival hosting artists you want to see and learn from.
Artists I admire = inspiration and motivation. Sure, I get a bit nervous at the thought of studying with these most amazing artists, but it usually goes away after awhile.
2. Go with a group of people.
You may know them before. You may not. You may travel with them. You may meet up there. Either way, having a small community within the bigger festival community offers support. Plus it's just so much more fun with other people. Think laughter, lots of laughter, therapeutic laughter.
3. Choose your learning tools.
There are many available.... An audio recording device to help you recall the sounds. A notebook for notes and reflections on class. Going over the choreography or tricky steps with another student after or before class. Getting centered and staying present.