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25 Reasons to Dance Flamenco

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25 Reasons to Dance Flamenco

Why dance flamenco? 

Flamenco offers all kinds of benefits: physical, emotional, intellectual, cognitive ... It is perfect for those who never considered themselves to be dancers and for those who have done other forms of dance. And the best part? You can start learning when you're seven or when you're seventy, (no joke)!

Here are twenty five reasons to do it,

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Five Things Jesús Carmona Says You Must Include in Your Flamenco Dance Practice (With Videos)

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Five Things Jesús Carmona Says You Must Include in Your Flamenco Dance Practice (With Videos)

What should you do if if you have just 15-20 minutes a day to practice?

That’s what a student asked me to find out when I interviewed Jesús Carmona last month.

Here are the five recommendations he shared along with videos to help you get started on your own at home. (Some of what he advises might surprise you.)

1. Abdominal Exercises

The first thing Jesús mentioned was the need to strengthen our abs. Don't know where to start? Try this:

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Seven Essential Flamenco Dance Lessons From Jesús Carmona

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Seven Essential Flamenco Dance Lessons From Jesús Carmona

Read on for my seven biggest takeaways from this month's workshops with flamenco maestro Jesús Carmona followed by a challenge for you.

Jesús is all about working hard, breaking things down, and holding high expectations all while having fun. A true master teacher. He sees everybody and expects maximum effort from all. He worked us HARD during the workshops in Portland. It was truly satisfying to see and feel the progress that we made in just four days. How can something be semi-torturous yet completely wonderful at the same time?

Here are seven pieces of advice from Jesús that will help you become a better flamenco dancer.

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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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20 Ways to Spice Up Your Flamenco Dance Practice

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20 Ways to Spice Up Your Flamenco Dance Practice

Do you have a hard time finding the motivation to practice?

I hear you.

. . . And I want to help!

Here are twenty ways to bring new life to your flamenco practice

The following ideas will not only spice up your practice but will also make you a better dancer. Apply them to a full choreography, part of a dance, a combination, or even a single step.

1. Do it while singing (or humming) the melody.
OBJECTIVE: Connect the music to the dance. Move your focus away from the steps. Improve your memory. Improve your focus.

2. Do one part over and over.
OBJECTIVE: Solidify and perfect a given part.

3. Do it facing different directions in the room.
OBJECTIVE: Stop relying on the mirror. Focus. Test your knowledge of the dance. Learn to adapt to different situations. Prepare for performance.

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The Two Biggest Flamenco Hand Movement Mistakes & How To Fix Them

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The Two Biggest Flamenco Hand Movement Mistakes & How To Fix Them

Have you given any thought to what you want to get out of your flamenco experience this year? If it has to do with making your hands look better, read on, for today I'll tell you about two common mistakes I see with flamenco hand movements and how to fix them. I'll also show you a video of Mercedes Ruíz, our teacher on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez, demonstrating how to move the hands correctly.

Sometimes we get so focused on learning the steps that we neglect details like hand movements. “I’ll get to it later,” we say. We may think we don't have time, that it’s not that important, or find it boring. 

But practicing 'manos'  is a must for every flamenco dancer

The good news is that there is not one right way to move the hands. Like other stylistic elements of flamenco dance, there is plenty of room for individuality in this area. Watch a few video clips of different professional dancers, and you'll see how personal hand and finger movements tend to be. Matilde Coral reminds her students to make their hands look like doves, Mercedes reminds us to open and use every finger

While there may not be one right way to move the hands, there are wrong ways ... 

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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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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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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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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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Two Take-Aways from Two Days of Class in Jerez

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Two Take-Aways from Two Days of Class in Jerez

I've got two flamenco learning tips to share with you today. One from Mercedes and one from Ani. We're on day two of Flamenco Tour classes, and the classes have been going like this:

Technique with Mercedes in the morning. Bulerías with Ani right after. Then choreography and castanets with Mercedes after lunch and siesta. 

Everybody loves Mercedes. Everybody loves Ani. All is well.

Class with Mercedes

The ladies go in and out of concentrating on the steps and being mesmerized by Mercedes and her magnificence.

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3 Essential Elements for Learning to Dance Por Fiesta

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3 Essential Elements for Learning to Dance Por Fiesta

This week I learned about daylilies. And as it turns out the process I went through in learning about this flower led me to a mini-formula that is perfect for learning to dance por fiesta palos like bulerías. (I'll share that with you in a moment.)

But first, my lesson on daylilies

On Monday morning Stefani and I were on a walk when we happened upon bunches and bunches of bright golden daylilies. I’ve been noticing them everywhere this summer, including in my garden. I did not know what these flowers were called, and I’d never bothered to find out. I didn’t even bother to notice that their petals and shape look very much like ‘regular’ lilies. I guess because their colors, golden, yellow, red, orange, peach . . . are so distinct.

“I have those flowers in my garden,” I said to Stefani, “I cut some and put them in a vase, and the next day they were dead.”

“Well yeah, those are daylilies,” she responded. “They only live for a day.”

And this is how I came to learn why the ones in my vase at home had lasted, well, one day.

She proceeded to tell me more about the flower, information I won’t bother sharing with you because learning about flowers is not the point of this story.

(I’m getting to the point.)

Before I became aware of their name and the whole one day of life thing, I had already decided that I was not going to go around cutting more of these flowers and putting them in vases inside my house. Before Stefani told me about their life span, I had discovered on my own through trial and error that these flowers would be better enjoyed in the garden.

For the time being at least . . .

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Three Things to Remember When Dancing Bulerías

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Three Things to Remember When Dancing Bulerías

I have some more bulerías advice from Ani for you about feeling good today. But first,

Let's talk briefly about steps

Because you learn a lot of steps in in bulerías class.

You could say they are just steps.

To play with.

To practice.

To try out.

To hold on to. (Or to let go of.)

They can even be thought of as tools for understanding how the conversation works.

But going back to the liking them thing...

One day in Jerez

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Three Things That Get Me Out of a Funk | Viernes con una Letra

I want to tell you about some things that help me to feel better when I'm in a funky place. I also want to show you a very cool video and share a flamenco verse with you. But first, some words I wrote last week

(my first week back home post Flamenco Tour)

Coming home I feel overwhelmed.

This is not new.

It is how I usually feel after a trip to Spain. Excited to be back but overwhelmed and sort of confused at the same time.

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Four Steps to Following Your Intuition (Learned from Flamenco)

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Four Steps to Following Your Intuition (Learned from Flamenco)

I've talked before about how much I learn from flamenco. And I don't mean how much I learn about flamenco. Naturally I learn a lot about flamenco. But I'm talking about other things. Like trust for instance.

Trust

I have some issues when it comes to following my intuition.

I want to hear it. I want to trust it. I want to act on it.

If only it were that easy.

Fortunately flamenco has a lot to tell me about that.

Bulerías especially. Because with bulerías there are certain things I need to do. And as it turns out, these things also assist me in learning to go with my gut...

Four steps to following my intuition that I learned from flamenco:

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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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11 Things You Hear Regularly in Class with Mercedes

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11 Things You Hear Regularly in Class with Mercedes

If you've ever taken class with Mercedes Ruíz, you will likely recognize the words and phrases below. If you have not yet studied with her and plan to, prepare, because you are sure to hear these utterances over and over again.

If you have previously studied with her but were unsure of what she meant, read on, and find out.

If you have not studied with her and don't plan to, read anyway because the first eight are important tips to remember all of the time in your independent practice or in anybody's class.

Let's Begin

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Five Castanet Technique Tips & A Confession

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Five Castanet Technique Tips & A Confession

You've read my thoughts on avoiding castanets burn-out, and you've read about what made castanets finally doable for me. Today I'll share with you five important technique tips. But first, a castanets confession.

It has to do with my moving thumb.

My right thumb, that is. My right thumb that moves when I am doing the roll with my four fingers, well, and when doing postiseo, but it's supposed to move then, so that's a good thing. 

It's a bad habit that I formed in my alone practicing.

I don't know if I could have avoided it had I spent more time studying under someone else's guidance in the beginning. I don't know if the teacher would have noticed it happening and helped me to prevent it from continuing and developing into a habit. These are things I wonder about.

Most people tell me it's almost impossible to "fix" at this point.

Most people except for Emilio.

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Five Things You Need to Know About Dancing Bulerías  

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Five Things You Need to Know About Dancing Bulerías  

Bulerías.

It is the thing that everyone dances, even the guitarists and the singers.

It is the thing that, besides Mercedes, keeps calling me back to Jerez.

It is where we really let our personalities show.

It is SO MUCH FUN.

But there are certain must-knows for doing this dance.

Perhaps the first is that we all need to do it.  I'm not joking about that.

You can’t do flamenco and NOT do bulerías, even though I used to think you could.

It is not easy.

We know that.

So let's look at five essentials, five things we need to know in order to dance bulerías:

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