We flamenco teachers are a jealous lot. Well, perhaps even all dance teachers.
We love our students and we especially love loyal students, the ones who have been with us from the beginning. They are the ones who are obsessed with flamenco and take as many classes as they can with us per week.
They make me feel like I am doing my job correctly by actually teaching them how to dance flamenco and to keep them inspired.
But some students come and go because of schedules, location, lost interest in flamenco or I’m not the right teacher for them for whatever reason. And then there are some students who take continuous classes with me but also take from other local teachers.
They are the flamenco players.
And I’m ok with that.
No, really. I am.
I’m not talking about students taking workshops with dancers visiting from Spain. If you’re a flamenco you HAVE to do that (and study in Spain, of course). I’m talking about students quietly taking from other local teachers while being a constant in my classes.
Let me explain. It’s almost like a romantic relationship. As teachers, we are emotionally invested in each and every dancer that comes to our classes. We take pride when a dancer makes progress and we feel like failures when someone who truly tries, just doesn’t get it. And we become jealous if a student goes to different teachers, especially if we work hard at creating a strong community.
See, we’re all human, and as artists (because we may be flamenco teachers, but we’re flamenco artists first) we are emotional and not always rational.
I remember from my student days that it was definitely looked down upon to take from other teachers.
But it’s not a romantic relationship. It’s flamenco. And when you have the flamenco bug, you. have. to. have. it. Sometimes that means a dancer exclusively trains with one teacher. Sometimes that means a dancer goes to different teachers to learn different ways of moving.
It’s not about the teacher’s ego. It’s about you and your journey and you becoming self actualized as a flamenco dancer.
If you’re taking flamenco for fun and fitness, you tend to stay with one teacher. But if you’re taking classes so you can go to the next level, which usually means to perform, you have to take from different teachers.
You learn techniques and patterns from your teachers but then you stew on them for a bit. The outcome is that you develop your own style, or you allow yourself to express your own voice.
I initially studied exclusively with one teacher but then when I moved to Madrid I took many classes with various teachers. I felt my own dance voice screaming out of my body because I was given all these new tools to work with.
So, yes, I would love for all my students to dance exclusively with me, but I’m a flamenca and I know the truth.
To truly become the flamenco dancer you dream to be, you need to take as many classes as you can to absorb as much as you can from different sources. Then you have to get your butt in the dance studio by yourself and practice, practice, practice as well as be brave to dance in front of others.
Hopefully, you will come out a strong, confident dancer with an individual style that exudes your own personality and not that of your teacher’s.
Do you want to spread your flamenco horizons? Then join me in the Online Flamenco Studio where you can learn flamenco anytime, anywhere.
Photo: Mural outside of the dance studio Amor de Dios in Madrid.