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holiday

A Year In Flamenco: My Top Seven Flamenco Memories of the Year

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A Year In Flamenco: My Top Seven Flamenco Memories of the Year

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

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35 Reasons To LOVE Flamenco

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35 Reasons To LOVE Flamenco

Flamenco lover, this post is dedicated to you.

Last week I asked some students what they loved about flamenco. (I asked myself too.) Our answers became the list below. Following the list you'll find the video that inspired one reader to begin dancing flamenco along with a downloadable valentine for you.

What We Love About Flamenco:

  1. The challenge
  2. The community
  3. The emotion
  4. The elegance
  5. The passion
  6. The boldness
  7. The rhythm
  8. The beauty
  9. The focus
  10. The complexity

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How To Attain Flamenco Success in the New Year

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How To Attain Flamenco Success in the New Year

Want to amp up your flamenco progress in 2018?

Here’s a two part formula to get you going:

Part One: Reflection

“The more reflective you are, the more effective you are,” Hall & Simeral

Consider the past year in flamenco, and ask yourself:

  • What kind of flamenco activities did I participate in last year? 
  • Through which experiences did I grow the most?
  • Which experiences were the most fun?
  • What’s one thing that didn’t go the way I wanted it to, and what can I learn from that?

And...

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How To Follow Through With Your Flamenco (or any) New Year's Resolution

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How To Follow Through With Your Flamenco (or any) New Year's Resolution

Raise your hand if you want your flamenco new year's resolution to be about more than just January. Raise your hand if you want to make it stick. My hand is raised, and I'm guessing yours is too. So today I'll give you one more tool to help you follow through with your resolution. (If you've not made one yet, no problem. The energy of the new year is still upon us.)

As I've been taking action on my flamenco resolution in this new year, I've noticed something (in addition to my plan) that is really helping me to stick with it and that's an awareness of why I want it. I'll tell you more about my resolution later, but first, let's go deeper into this why stuff.

When setting your resolution, or when reflecting upon it, it's important to consider your why.

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Four Steps To Making a Flamenco New Year's Resolution Happen

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Four Steps To Making a Flamenco New Year's Resolution Happen

Happy New Year!

Did you know that people are more likely to follow through with a commitment to change set at the onset of the new year than at other times of the year?

In light of that, let’s talk flamenco new year’s resolutions. Below I’ll guide you through a three step process to putting a flamenco new year’s resolution into place for 2017. 

But first, let’s reflect briefly on 2016. 

  1. How has your flamenco improved during the last year? Write down or make a mental note of all of the ways you progressed over past year.
  2. How did you make that happen? Review your list, and consider what accounted for each improvement. What actions did you take to get better? (Remember those; you might use them in step two below.)
  3. Congratulations! 

Now it’s time to look toward the new year and start thinking about flamenco new year’s resolutions.

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How to Have a Party | The Weekly Letra

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How to Have a Party | The Weekly Letra

One year comes to an end, another begins. Which means ... It's time to party! Read Manuel Machado's words on how we might do this flamenco style, and watch a video of Montse Cortés and Chonchi Heredia singing it live with Paco de Lucia below.

Then check out the end of this post where I share four flamenco events I'm looking forward to in the coming year.

(Bulerías)
Manuel Machado

Una fiesta se hace
con tres personas: 
Uno baila, otro canta
y el otro toca. 
Ya me olvidaba
de los que dicen ¡Olé! 
y tocan palmas.

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Villancicos de Gloria | The Weekly Letra

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Villancicos de Gloria | The Weekly Letra

Today a villancico along with two interpretations. One is a video of La Macanita singing in Carlos Saura's Flamenco and the other is Manuel Lombo performing live at the cathedral in Sevilla.

Villancicos de Gloria

Los caminos se hicieron, 
con agua, viento y frío. 
Caminaba un anciano,  
muy triste y afligido ¡A la Gloria!
A su bendita madre, victoria!
Gloria al recién nacido, ¡Gloria! 

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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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Three Easy Ways to Grow as Dancer (Even When You Have No Time)

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Three Easy Ways to Grow as Dancer (Even When You Have No Time)

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)

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How to Keep the Challenge Going in the New Year

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How to Keep the Challenge Going in the New Year

I enjoyed spending the last week of the year with you during the Dance as if You Were in Class With Mercedes Holiday Challenge. Today I share with you one small way you can keep the challenge going (along with a video of Mercedes Ruíz) ...

Great artists tell me

that they spend enormous amounts of time watching those they admire.

Studying their every move and learning by observation.

So, I invite you to enjoy some time observing one of your favorite artists this week.

And since we've been focusing on Mercedes:

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Day 7: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

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Day 7: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

As you know the challenge has involved some squeezing in this week, for me at least. But over the past seven days, I've come to see this squeezing more as taking advantage of moments of opportunity.

Por ejemplo:

"Hey, we have a few minutes before going to do (thing we need to go do) Margot, do you want to do an exercise with me?"

Or, "Is my pompi dentro?" I've found myself asking myself while washing a dish.

And you already know about teeth brushing.

Stuff like that ...

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Day 6: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

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Day 6: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

I didn’t tell you this, but I decided to do something I have not done in the past with the choreography I learned from Mercedes in Jerez last fall, I decided to keep it.

You may think I keep all of the dances I learn from her, or perhaps you know me better than that.

My pattern is to let them go.

In fact, this intention I set last fall during the FlamencoTour to Jerez, to retain and polish the choreography Mercedes taught us, is part of the reason I set up the holiday challenge.

I gave myself many excuses as to why I could not do this over the holidays:

'You have other flamenco things to work on Laura.'

'It is December. It is holiday time. It is not time for flamenco discipline.'

'It won’t be the same as being in class with Mercedes. It won't be anything like it...'

I almost didn't do it.

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Day 5: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

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Day 5: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

Only two days left of the challenge? I kind of can't believe how quickly it's going by...

Squeezing it in

I mentioned yesterday that I had an idea for squeezing in an exercise when you're feeling that there is no time.

Because there is time.

Let me tell you about how I brush my teeth.

Normally I do tree pose without arms when brushing my teeth. I did yoga long before I started flamenco, and tree pose has always been a favorite of mine.

But sometimes I’ll substitute a flamenco exercise, a marcaje or something for the hips.

During the challenge I’ve been doing an exercise from Mercedes when it's time to brush my teeth.

In the morning, at night, and during any brushings in-between.

That's more than four minutes of exercise time right there.

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Day 3: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

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Day 3: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

I want to talk about how to get more out of your "time" with Mercedes during this challenge. Because I know it can be hard to squeeze in flamenco activities right now as many of us are busy with family, holiday stuff, and what not.

But before I get to that, a brief snippet from today ~

I decided to take the challenge on the road today while hiking with the family.

So Margot and I listened to Mercedes as we walked.

As it turns out many of her reminders were just as helpful to hiking as to flamenco,

'Respira, despacio, pompi dentro...'

Take 'pompi dentro' for instance:

Making a point not to let your bottom stick out forces you to engage your core which is most helpful in maintaining stability on the rocky and sometimes slippery trail.

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Day 2: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

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Day 2: Dance As If You Were in Class with Mercedes Holiday Challenge

My niece is participating in the challenge with me. In part.

She loves flamenco and started taking regular classes this spring after taking a class with Ricardo in Santa Barbara.

“Do you want to do some of Mercedes’s exercises with me?” I asked her on Christmas Day.

She did.

She knew what to expect as she had sat through her class in Jerez a coupe of times. (My nieces spent some time with me and the group in Spain last spring, and Margot happily, patiently, and voluntarily sat through hours of class with Mercedes.)

“Are we going to do the one with the hands?” she asked me as she stretched her arms out imitating the exercise, this exercise.

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