Although I’ve been teaching flamenco for 20 years, it’s from teaching online that I’ve learned my most valuable lesson…. how to kiss like a flamenco! Or actually- K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple and Strong!
Flamenco is one complicated art form- from the compás to the structure of the dance and all the different palos…. and never mind the actual dance technique!! Dancers (myself included) can get all hung up in trying to do the crazy moves with the crazy compás. But unless you’re really practicing a lot and making it come out super strong and confident, it just looks like a jumbled, bland mess!
I’ve always preached keeping it simple but I know that I haven’t always *really* followed my own advise throughout the years. However, NOW, especially from teaching online, I see the light!!! I’m truly trying to keep the moves simple and focus on strong compás and accents with tons of aire for myself and my students. And it feels so goooooood!
So what does this actually mean, especially if you’re “stuck” learning whatever your teacher shows you whether it’s complicated or not?
Flamenco IS complicated and you will feel LOST for quite awhile!! BUT your teacher should give you stuff that is doable and fun. This means learning SIMPLE Tangos technique and a short choreography. Stay away from Sevillanas classes until you have *some* experience (which many teachers unfortunately teach to new beginners). And even if you do take Sevillanas classes, only expect to learn the first copla and not all four of them at first. You can spend months trying to learn all four coplas at your level and it will end up feeling long and dreary!
This goes for all levels of experience. There are some visiting artists from Spain that have INSANE technique because they’ve been dancing since birth AND they practice for hours each day because this is their livelihood! Then the overall level is higher in Spain as well so an advanced dancer here might be considered a low intermediate there.
So, when you’re perhaps signing up for a bunch of classes at a festival like Albuquerque, you need to set some expectations depending on your own experience and level of technique. If you learn a complicated piece of footwork, how can you simplify it when you get home so you can actually pull it off? OR if you’re dedicated to actually using the footwork as it was shown, you MUST know the compás and soniquete of it thoroughly. That means being able to “say” the soniquete as you play palmas using solo compás. I do this in my classes all the time. Try it!
TANGOS, BULERIAS AND SOLOS
Here is where Simple and Strong really shine. Just watch some flamenco videos and really study what your favorite dancer does. There may be some that are crazy complex, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised that many of them actually are using simple technique but it’s the power and confidence in their body that makes it *seem* complicated.
So here, again, it’s all about understanding the structure, knowing when to accent, being able to breathe in between the transitions. Letting your body make the move more powerful rather than adding a bunch of extra *stuff* to make it seem cooler.
I’m telling you, from my years of dancing on stage, in tablao, if you can’t confidently do a llamada without any rehearsal because you don’t have the technique or you don’t truly understand the compás, then you’re a disaster waiting to happen! Sorry to be harsh, but it’s absolutely true! Go for the material that seems too easy for you, get it in your bones and allow your confidence and expression to shine.
When you focus on KISSing like a flamenco, you can be a beginner dancer and dance with confidence. You can be any size & age and be expressive and beautiful. Really!