Starting from the very beginning with flamenco is exhilarating and daunting at the same time. We are all drawn to it because of the sheer passion and expression of the dancers, as well as being moved by the music. But it’s also intimidating because we want to know everything like yesterday!
Although I grew up in a latin neighborhood in San Francisco, I don’t think I was ever really exposed to flamenco as a child, but somehow I knew about it. I know there was one year that I was a flamenco dancer for Halloween. Go figure.
Then I was a belly dancer for many years, but I was OBSESSED with flamenco and never had found a good opportunity to start learning it. I had quit college at UC Berkeley to go live in Spain. While there, I wanted to watch a flamenco class before taking it. The teacher said NO and scared me off! So I never came back. Another time in San Francisco, I wanted to take one class with Rosa Montoya (a legendary dancer from Spain), but she wouldn’t let me. She said that flamenco required commitment (true) and if I didn’t pay for a whole series, I wasn’t allowed! Ack!! Scared me again!
It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I finally acted on my passions and started taking classes with Yaelisa. And the rest is history. Ha ha.
I always wished that I had started sooner and that I wasn’t scared off by those other teachers. But se la vie. I’m dancing now and forever.
Which gets me to my point. It’s never too late to start learning flamenco if it’s under your skin to learn it. One of my favorite students is currently in her mid 80’s. She was one of my first students here in Los Angeles. She had learned a little bit as a child and finally came back to it in her 70’s.
One of my favorite things about flamenco is that it’s a life time endeavor. It’s for all ages. We become better dancers as we age because we put more of our own life experience into the dance. And it comes out as a personal expression that has more peso y aire.
We all wish we were born into flamenco so we can dance like Carmen Amaya. But we can’t. So, we do what we can. We are drawn to flamenco like moths to a flame. But without the burning part.
So, if you think it’s too late to learn, think again. Dancing keeps us young and smart and passionate, and gives us real life lessons. Just keep your expectations in check. You wouldn’t expect yourself to be a concert pianist if you started late in life and never practiced, right? But you’d still receive the same joy of acting on your dreams. And it’s fun to be around a group of like-minded obsessed and crazy flamencas!
If you’re wondering where to start, then visit my Online Flamenco Studio!
Photo Credit: We all wish we got to learn flamenco like this! Photo by Dmitri Kessel for LIFE Magazine 1949.
Well said, Rina! When I went to Spain to study for the first time the teacher, Matilde Coral, didn’t want me to observe the class either, she wanted me to take it. I convinced her to let me observe, thank goodness because it was NOT what I would have considered to be beginning. 😉 Thankfully, months later, after studying in other places, I finally felt able to try her classes. Anyhow, I too began dancing flamenco in my 20s and wished I’d started sooner. I am so inspired by my students who begin later in life. I have a student now who is 71 and just beginning, so cool!!! xo
It is NEVER to late to learn Flamenco! I am a belly dancer of 30 years, but feel tapped out with it, and I’m tired of getting up there amongst 20 & 30 year olds who are still feeling their hormonal oats so to speak, baring all in abbreviated costuming! I’m also a fitness instructor for a living, centering my efforts on seniors. Flamenco is one of the best exercises for seniors as it builds new brain neurons and helps them get in touch with life and passion–two commodities that can easily slip away as we age. I am now 71 and came into Flamenco at age 68. It is one of the most challenging dance forms I’ve ever learned, and working with Bata de Cola, Manton, and Castanuelas is difficult but fun and gives me much joy. It has been a real shot upward in my dance career, and I can’t say enough good about it. So don’t let age keep you from trying this rewarding dance form.
Ole Diane! Well said! Bravo!!!
It is never too late for starting to learn flamenco, just put passion on it and if you are willing you’ll get far. The mainb point is having a good time and enjoying it, so why you wouldn’t do it? Great article and 100% sharing your point of view.
Nowadays there are a lot of ways to learn flamenco, the only needed thing is to be willing for having a good time!
Thanks Rina for sharing!