I'm Laura, the owner of Experience Flamenco & Portland Flamenco Events. I take groups of people to Spain twice a year to study flamenco in its birthplace. I also teach and organize flamenco dance classes and workshops in Portland, Oregon where I’m from and hold flamenco retreats in the Western United States, perform, and write about flamenco.

Dancing sevillanas with Julie Pacheco-Toye in Portland, Oregon

Dancing sevillanas with Julie Pacheco-Toye in Portland, Oregon

People often ask how I ended up doing this ...

My interest in the arts began at a very early age.

My sister and I used to put together highly entertaining song & dance shows for our family, poor family. As we got older they evolved into to plays created with our friends for the neighbors, thank you neighbors. This led me to theatre which I was into throughout my childhood years. In college I distanced myself from that and began experimenting with visual and performance art, eventually majoring in art studio. 

Then, I discovered flamenco.

I was instantly intrigued and looked for flamenco classes but didn't find any. A couple of years went by.

Flamenco remained on my mind. 

I knew I needed to get myself to Spain. 

Being in Spain and studying flamenco there scared me to pieces, (partially because I’d gone with almost no preparation and without knowing a soul, where I would go to dance, or even what city I was going to settle in) but I stayed for because, well, I’d caught the flamenco bug. (If you’ve not caught it yet, be careful, for it’s very lingering.) After about a year, I came home. 

Dancing bulerías on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez (Photo by Margaret Cheung)

Dancing bulerías on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez (Photo by Margaret Cheung)

I wanted to keep learning flamenco,

I wanted to keep going to Spain, but it made no practical sense to me. What’s the point? You could never do flamenco professionally. You started too late, I kept telling myself. And you don’t fit in. 

So I began working in an elementary school, went back to school, got my Masters in Education, and became a full time teacher. I truly enjoyed it, but I barely found time to pursue anything else, especially flamenco.

After several years I took a leave of absence from teaching, keeping my foot in the door with temporary substitute jobs while organizing flamenco workshops with guest artists from Spain and teaching on my own. I returned to Spain to study, and I’ve been going back ever since. I let go of the idea of myself as an elementary school teacher and let this become my business.

What began with some teaching and workshops has turned into much more.

During an extended trip to Spain in 2011, I started my first blog and re-discovered my love of writing (a favorite childhood activity). That particular trip to Spain also planted the seeds for the the very first Flamenco Tour ...

Working on the rooftop in Jerez, Spain during the Flamenco Tour to Jerez (photo by Tonya Edgren)

Working on the rooftop in Jerez, Spain during the Flamenco Tour to Jerez (photo by Tonya Edgren)

Dancing, writing, moving, learning, teaching, traveling, leading trips to Spain.

These are things I love to do.

Flamenco challenges me on all kinds of levels. It is fuel for my body, my soul, and my brain.

It provides me with endless opportunity.

I will never be española; I will never be gitana. I will always just be me and feel and express this incredible art form, flamenco, in my way. 

Thanks for taking the time to read. I look forward to learning about you too. I hope you'll stay connected by joining the list here!

Thank you for stopping by,

Find out more here:

When It All Began

Why You Shouldn't Call It Quits (My First Flamenco Dance Experience in Spain)

Why I started Flamenco Dancing, How Did You Get Into It?

Should I Put Myself Out There

Matilde Coral and My First Experience With the Bata

How I Overcame My Fear of Bulerías

It Wasn't Like My Fantasy

It Just Kind of Happened

Why I Wanted to do it With a Group

How I Went In (Class With Mercedes)

Mercedes Ruíz Serving Sherry to Us