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flamenco

My Top 25 Favorite Flamenco Blog Posts

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My Top 25 Favorite Flamenco Blog Posts

We were named #3 in the Top Flamenco Blogs And Websites Every Flamenco Dancer Must Follow, Best Flamenco Blogs on the Planet by Feedspot Blog Reader. 

That feels exciting!

I started this blog seven years ago at the suggestion of a student just before I left for Spain on the trip that inspired the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. I'm SO grateful that I did as it reconnected me to my love of writing, offered me a new means of expression, and most importantly, turned into a way to help and connect with others along their flamenco journeys. What started as a personal account of my flamenco learning has evolved into educational and informative articles, interviews with artists, translations of flamenco songs, and stories of my travels and flamenco studies.

In celebration of this, today I'd like to share with you some of my favorite posts from the past seven years.

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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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Eight Flamenco Dance Lessons Learned From Emilio Ochando

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Eight Flamenco Dance Lessons Learned From Emilio Ochando

Last weekend we studied flamenco dance with Emilio Ochando. In class we were reminded that learning steps is one thing while learning how to execute them and use our bodies well is another thing. Below find eight lessons I took away from the workshops with Emilio: 

1. Accent

Create accents with the body, the hands, the feet. This gives your dance dynamics and personality.

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Fifty Life Lessons from Flamenco

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Fifty Life Lessons from Flamenco

During last weekend's Flamenco Retreat at the Oregon Coast (which I'm still on a high from by the way and which you can see pictures of below) we all agreed that flamenco teaches us about life and about ourselves

So, today I share with you fifty life lessons I've gleaned from flamenco.

Fifty Lessons:

(This list is full of links in case you'd like to dive deeper into some of the lessons.)

  1. Listen to your intuition, and trust your instincts.
  2. Express your true feelings
  3. Be present.
  4. Stand beautifully in your power.
  5. Prepare. (Really prepare.)
  6. Take risks.
  7. Focus.
  8. Act with intention.
  9. The answers are in the mirror, so look.
  10. Show up.

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Flamenco Holiday Gift Guide: Eight Gift Ideas For The Flamenco Lover

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Flamenco Holiday Gift Guide: Eight Gift Ideas For The Flamenco Lover

What’s on your flamenco holiday wish list? And more importantly, have you shared it with your friends and family because, the truth is, they might not know how to shop for a flamenco lover such as yourself. 

Not quite sure what to ask for? See below for eight holiday gift ideas for any budget:

1. Gift Certificate for Flamenco Classes

Gift certificates for flamenco lessons in Portland are available in any amount, starting at just $5. Contact us to purchase.

(And right now, $100 buys $115 toward classes! In other words, a $115 gift certificate costs just $100; that's 13% off. Find out about the Holiday Gift Certificate Sale Here.) 

2. Online Flamenco Classes

For the dancer who’s looking for supplemental instruction or who’s unable to make it to in-person classes, online flamenco lessons are a great option. Both Flamenco Bites and Rina Orellana Flamenco offer excellent online instruction. You can read my full article about online learning here.     

3. Metronome

Without a doubt, every flamenco student NEEDS a metronome. And thankfully, they’re easy to find. Any local music store will have one.

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To Juan Carmona Habichuela | The Weekly Letra

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To Juan Carmona Habichuela | The Weekly Letra

The great flamenco guitarist Juan Habichuela, 'Tío Juan,' known as the best cante accompanist, passed away last week

You can see a video of him playing below along with an interview where he talks about his life as a flamenco guitarist. He says he is a guitarist who plays for cante, who loves accompanying cante, who loves cante, who loves flamenco, and that he'll die with all of that.

But first, a poem. 

I saw this on Facebook, written and posted by guitarist Paco Cepero, and I wanted to share it with you:

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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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Why I Started Dancing Flamenco ~ How Did You Get Into It?

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Why I Started Dancing Flamenco ~ How Did You Get Into It?

It's September, so let's do a little first day of school, getting-to-know-eachother activity. I'm actually not kidding about that. People have been inquiring about my 'flamenco journey' so below I tell you how it began for me. (Later, why not tell me how you became interested in flamenco?)

My Introduction to Flamenco

I was a junior in college. I was struggling through Spanish class.

The professor spoke only in español which basically left me feeling like a Charlie Brown character being mwoah mwoah mwoahed at for hours upon end.

Every day we would watch this educational novela, answer questions related to the day's episode, and then "discuss" it. I rarely knew what was going on.

As you may have gathered, I did not particularly enjoy the class. While I constantly felt confused, behind, and overwhelmed, I am full of gratitude for the experience,

Agradecimiento.

You see, had it not been for this class, I'm not sure I would be dancing flamenco today.

Here's what happened

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Alegrías by David Lagos Part 4 | Viernes con una Letra

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Alegrías by David Lagos Part 4 | Viernes con una Letra

Another letra from this alegrías by David Lagos and one more video that I'm pretty positive will make your day all kinds of better as soon as you watch it.

Alegrías
David Lagos

A un lance de su capote
suenan la palmas en la plaza
y es que torea en la plaza
vaya torero Rafael de Paula

With a throw of his cape
the clapping sounds in the bullring
because he is bullfighting in the bullring
Wow, the bullfighter Rafael de Paula

You can hear this letra at 2 minutes 30 seconds, but I highly recommend watching the whole thing, especially one minute in when he sings his tri tri tri trans and the very end.

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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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Day 5: How to Create a Step (Last Day of the Mini-Challenge)

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Day 5: How to Create a Step (Last Day of the Mini-Challenge)

It’s the final day of the Mini-Challenge and time to step things up a bit. That's right, today things get harder. But sometimes harder can be more fun. 

And I think you'll find that to be true with this final activity which is all about creation . . .

The creation of a step

Today’s exercise comes directly from our imaginary teacher of the week, David Romero.

David says coming up wtih a step is easy, You just have to do the work.

In other words, it’s not hard as long as we're willing to put forth effort.

(You can hear him talk about this six minutes thirty seconds into his video interview.)

Below, find out how to make up your very own flamenco step by following David's exact advice. (Well, along with a few additional suggestions from me.)

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Day 4: How to Learn From Your Favorite Artist

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Day 4: How to Learn From Your Favorite Artist

Today I'm going to show you how to learn from a favorite artist of your choosing. Read on to find out how.

David Romero says that we learn from all of the people we study (or work) with. That we hold onto the best bits from each person, that which we like,

Llega un momento en que naturalmente salen cosas en que tú dices, uy, esto por qué? Porque tú ya lo has vivido o la has visto o te lo han explicado.

“A time comes when things start happening naturally. You start doing things, and you say, “How did this happen?”

The process happens over time, David says. After a lot of dancing, a lot of studying, a lot of practicing, your body begins to change.

"And this is good.” he says. “It should change. Because if someone doesn’t change when dancing . . . What are we going to do? There has to be an evolution. And that comes from learning from all of the people who you study with, or all of the people who you work with, and all of the people who you admire.

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Day 3: How to Up Your Flamenco Game From the Comfort of Your Own Home

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Day 3: How to Up Your Flamenco Game From the Comfort of Your Own Home

Woo-hoo, you’ve made it to day three of the Dancing with David Even Though We’re Not With David Challenge! Today's task won't take long, so read on to find a new exercise to help you become a better dancer from home . . .

Learning by observation is one of my favorite ways to learn, and I've learned quite a bit from observing David Romero, noticing both how he dances and how he approaches dancing and teaching.

Today we're going to focus on the approach.

Presence

David gives 100% (if not more) when teaching.

He, the teacher, is there with you, the student, completely.

Which inspires you to be there with him. And to give all that you have to give during those moments.

Sooooo, when you’re in the studio,

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How to Improvise in Por Fiesta Flamenco Dances

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How to Improvise in Por Fiesta Flamenco Dances

Improvisation in flamenco. It's not as tricky as you may think.

Today I explain how to improvise in fiesta style flamenco dances.

The truth is, if you follow certain principles, you can improvise no matter what your level. So if you think you're not ready to do this, think again, and read on to find out how.

Improvisation Por Fiesta

In order to 'improvise' when dancing bulerías and tangos, you must understand the structure. And in order to truly have a conversation with the singer and the other musicians, you need to do a bit of improvising. Since flamenco is a conversation between the singer, dancer, guitarist, and palmeros, improvisation is an important skill to develop.

(Plus it's fun.)

But don’t worry,

Improvising por fiesta is not making up a dance from scratch as you go.

It is not coming up with brand new moves in the moment.

It’s actually much easier than that (as long as you know the structure).

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