I’ve been presenting my students in showcases since 2005. They started off as rag tag events at a restaurant in Hermosa Beach, and I am amazed at how they’ve evolved into a polished show at small performance spaces and theaters.
I initially taught the choreographies in 8 weeks – simple choreographies but still boot camp! Now it can be as much as 8 months for a single dance. The dancers first started all in group choreographies then they were able to improvise bulerias. Now there are many soloists and I have to choose which ones get to dance.
Each production is a great experience for me and my dancers even with the pressure, stress, surprises and meltdowns. I’ve developed a tight system to producing these shows. Sometimes I don’t always stick to the system and things tend to go haywire when that happens.
So, here for you, is what I’ve learned throughout the ten plus years of choreographing and producing shows and how YOU can perform your best and UNLEASH YOUR FLAMENCO BEAST.
1. Don’t shoot for perfection but go for emotion. I am sooooo underwhelmed by any dance performance that the dancers all look perfect in their technique and form but lack any spark onstage. Of course, you don’t want to be passionate but sloppy. You still want cohesion on stage. But I’m not going to quibble over arm position when the dancers are really “feeling” it.
2. Rise up to the challenge. What is the most nerve wracking part of performing for you? Is it remembering all the material? Is it stage fright? Is it not being confident in your technique? Of course, it would be fantastic to work on all of it, but realistically you should focus on one thing at a time. Or at least identify HOW you’re going to work on multiple issues. Trouble remembering the material? Write it out, watch the video if you have it, review it in your mind while doing the dishes. Need to work on the technique? Then DO IT in compas! Slow. Boring. Again and again. LOL.
3. Make sure you truly understand what you’re dancing. It’s difficult to remember a choreography if you don’t understand the context. That means that you know why you’re doing the natural order of all dances- llamada, letra, escobilla, buleria, estribillo, etc. I “sing” in class so that my dancers can learn letras and know that they are resolving with the cante. Granted it can be very difficult for some to remember what is what, but keep trying!
4. Practice, practice, practice. I encourage my dancers to rent studio time and practice together using solo compas and playing palmas for each other. This is where lots of magic happens because they become self sufficient and create bonds.
5. Enjoy the process. The performance lasts just a few hours and your dance may be over in just minutes. We all want perfection and catharsis on stage, but it’s over in the blink of an eye. So it’s best to focus on the process rather than the end result. Exalt in your new knowledge. Be grateful that you had some bonding with your flamencos. Bask in the glow that you are doing something that you love. Enjoy the process, be present, and be grateful that you are so lucky to have found your passion in flamenco. OLE!