It’s the final day of the year, so let’s take some time to reflect before ringing in the new year. What moments stood out in your flamenco life this year?
Below you can see some of my favorite flamenco memories from 2018 (in chronological order). I feel extremely grateful for the wonderful experiences this year delivered. One of the things I most love is how each event pictured below offered a new opportunity to join with flamenco lovers from across the country (and the world in some cases) to enjoy this incredible art form together.
Here are my top seven flamenco memories of the year
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?
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.
Not really. It may be called Beginning. Or Advanced.
And that name might tell me about the pace of the class. Or about the type or amount of information and material that will be given.
But what does it really mean?
Is what I view as beginning the same as what you view as beginning?
Can I expect to find people all at the same skill level because the class is called intermediate?
Does the name of the class tell me where I belong?
No and not necessarily.
I have some thoughts on figuring out which class you "belong" in and some more thoughts about what to do should you find yourself in a class that feels like the wrong level.
I wrote and posted this story about two years ago. I was so inspired by Akiko that I wanted to repost it today, with a few adjustments. Today when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed out about all kinds of things.
Today when I am feeling shut down and scared to perform this weekend, as I so often get.
Today when I need grounding and inspiration.
Today I need to remember Akiko in the springtime in Sanlúcar...
Allow me to tell you a bit about Akiko, one of the many inspiring people I've met during my time here in Jerez.
Not too long ago Akiko began taking classes in Japan from Harumi, an incredibly graceful flamenco dancer from Osaka who básicamente seems to have mastered las bulerías de Jerez. She even co-teaches with Ana María López at la Peña los Cernícalos when she is in town.
But back to Akiko.
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.
I guess you could say I was kind of consumed with fear during my time in Jerez. I did things anyway, but I also didn't do things. Below is an excerpt (with some side notes) written during my first week alone there. For those who are new to this blog, I had been in Jerez a couple of weeks before for the Festival. After a brief trip to Portugal, I headed back. I arrived on Friday the 25th and began my search for classes.
Prior to leaving for Spain I knew who I wanted to take from and had names of studios and phone numbers; I even had an idea of when some of the classes were offered. Sí! I had done my research, I promise, as best as I could from Portland, Oregon...I had to for the RACC grant. And during the festival I got an idea of where the studios were located. But I had yet to figure out the class times. Could I have done more to determine this earlier in the month? Perhaps. But figuring out where and when things happen in that town is not as easy as one might think…