I just held my annual student showcase and it was the best one ever. I know, I know, I say that every year, but this time it *really* was!! Why? The soloists had a deeper understanding of the structure of the palos, so they were able to communicate more effectively with the musicians and improvise when needed. The senior dancers were able to really lead the other dancers and be a strong support for them as well as just be able to express themselves more. The intermediate dancers really upped their game by dancing letras by themselves, which can be a scary endeavor. And the newer students just absorbed everything and danced their hearts out!!
So, yes, I was a happy flamenco mama!! And even more so because some of my “sayings” would be repeated back to me! Or I saw how they truly incorporated them. These are the not-so-secret advice I always say for dancing flamenco with expression and confidence.
Here they are in no particular order!
Do the same warm up routine.
I’ve been doing the same warm up sequence for YEARS. I’ve added new elements throughout the years but it’s basically been the same. I do this because I can be tired or unmotivated, but when I start doing this sequence, my body kicks into “flamenco time” and I’m excited to dance by the end. Plus, doing this with my class creates a moment for all of us to lock into to each other and dance together as a community as opposed to a bunch of individuals copying the teacher in the studio.
I *always* *always* *always* do this. Right before performing a solo I ground my energy by imagining that I’m growing roots into the earth and then I draw up the energy. I feel it reverberate throughout my body and then I extend my arms up high and feel the energy release out. Then I reverse the sequence by having my arms up and drawing in the energy from the universe, feeling it reverberate throughout my body and then grounding deep into my roots.
How do you want to FEEL while dancing?
Of course, we want to BE amazing flamenco dancers. But is it all about technique? No! There’s that pursuit of the effervescent moment of duende that happens when everything locks into place with yourself, the singer, guitarist, audience and it feels magical. However, this definitely doesn’t always happen!!!
So, you have to decide how do you want to FEEL while dancing? Happy. Proud. Strong. Explosive. Feminine. Profound. Make the decision and step into that feeling while practicing or before stepping onto the stage. Remember a time you felt that way, visualize it, feel it and bring it with you into your dance.
Use the dang solo compás and hit the accents!
I am such a broken record about this. Practice.with.solo.compás!!! When you’re working out an escobilla or a marcaje with strong accents, you may *think* you’re in compás when you’re practicing on your own. But then you’re totally surprised when you try to do it in rehearsal with the musicians and it’s way out of compás. Save yourself the agony and work it out with solo compás!! Then figure out where the accents are in whatever move you’re doing and try to hit those accents through out. So you’re not just moving like mush in compás, but you’re hitting the accents with intention.
Give yourself a jaleo.
When you’re practicing, getting ready to perform, or even just going about your day, make eye contact with yourself in the mirror and give yourself a jaleo. ¡Olé guapa. You got it this!
As dancers we want to express ourselves and feel connected to our compañeras in class or the cuadro on stage. But how can we connect with others if we can’t connect with ourselves?
This practice of eye contact with ourselves is simple yet powerful. Then giving yourself a jaleo deepens the power because you know that you have your own back. It gives us the courage to stand up and be seen, which is what flamenco is all about.
Chin up tits out.
This one is my favorites because it’s so visibly noticeable right away. I *always* yell this to my dancers in class or at rehearsal and it’s amazing to see the difference in the expression of confidence and the power in the movement. Not only is this “proper” flamenco posture, it’s the best posture to take on your life. Amirite?!
So, take these bits of advice and apply them as you can to your flamenco practice. I promise that they would transform your flamenco experience. These are also amazing things to do in every day life. What would happen if you applied them to the rest of your life as well?