Into the Blogosphere

Presentation2My second year of blogging brought with it some new and exciting opportunities. I was super pumped when I was asked to write a couple of guest posts for other websites and was interviewed by a few sites that help promote other bloggers. I couldn’t be happier that my blog is reaching a cross-culture interest in the blogosphere and I was simply giddy that these well-established websites wanted THEIR people to read MY words. 🙂 I hope to do more of it in 2018! If you didn’t have a chance to catch them the first time around, here they are again. Happy reading!

GUEST POSTS/ARTICLES WRITTEN

Benefits of Introducing Children to Dance

http://www.messymombun.com/why-your-child-needs-dance-in-their-life-benefits-of-introducing-children-to-dance/

The Spain Scoop- Flamenco in Seville: A Dancer finds Rhythm in the South of Spain.

http://www.thespainscoop.com/dancing-flamenco-in-seville/

INTERVIEWS

Women in Business Spotlight

http://www.waldorfsaladcottagefries.com/women-business-spotlight-lori-kullberg-fleur-de-flamenco/

Travel Blogger

http://www.techeera.com/interview-travel-blogger-lori-kullberg-fleur-de-flamenco/

Coffee Heart Mind- Meet the Blogger Behind the Blog- Meet Lori 

http://coffeeheartmind.com/meet-lori/

 

 

 

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Why did I shift from hula to flamenco?

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I have always been a dancer, dabbling through the years in country and western line dancing and two-step, west coast swing, waltz, salsa, disco/hustle and anything else I could learn so I didn’t have to sit down when out with friends. And now, flamenco. Simply put, I LOVE TO DANCE.

The one dance style that has been with me my whole life is the Hawaiian hula. My memories go back to the tender age of five and of my mom teaching my twin sister and I the graceful technique…in unison. So, how did I shift from hula to flamenco? This question from a fellow flamenco made me dig deep for an answer.

What first attracted me to flamenco was thinking it was a lot like hula and would be fun and easy for me to adapt. Well, the fun part was correct. Not so much the easy part, made even less easy by my obvious distance from spring-chicken status.

The short answer is that it called to me. The spiritual and emotional connection stunned me at first, but I did not hesitate. Even now, when I feel frustrated and want to quit, I cannot. I mean, really, I cannot. It won’t let me. It has a hold on me and won’t let me go.

I could talk at length about the similarities and difference between hula and flamenco and how the hula gave me some good and not-so-good habits I had to tweak for flamenco, but those are not really a part of why I have spent the last five years armpit-deep in my flamenco study.

It is because flamenco satisfies a part of me that was screaming to get out.  It reached inside my soul and grabbed a handful of emptiness and became unexpected friends with it. The friendship blossomed into such a kinship that expressions I never knew I had came pouring out like hot lava. My sleeping volcano was being awakened.

Hula, at least the style I am more trained in, sings to my soft, graceful, sentimental, folklore storytelling side. I love it deeply and always will. Flamenco, on the other hand, bellows to my pained, passionate, exuberant, aggressive, tormented, playful, pissed-off, sad, and uniquely individual side. All those different emotions in one dance style! With hula, you do not really have the latitude to create your own way, your own words. With flamenco, that is all you have.

Writing this, I realize that some of the other dance styles I have enjoyed, echo a feeling happening at that time in my life. The country & western, disco/hustle, for example, came during my 20’s when life was fun and frivolous and I didn’t have any worries. The salsa and waltz came a little later, when I was becoming more adult-like and felt the need for more focus and concentration on the moves. The hula has always signified my culture, upbringing, and family. It stands for the sum of my childhood and I will always have a special place in my heart for it, still actively practicing, performing, and giving workshops when given the opportunity.

But now, I have this new and different excitement coursing through my veins. This thing called flamenco. I think it is here at this time and place for me because in the natural course of getting older, I seek…no, I need, a more in-your-face way of expressing myself. One that tells MY story created by my own words.

I read an article recently, where an aged gitana was relaying to a stranger, the allure of flamenco, and I quite agree; (to paraphrase) flamenco is every lesson you will have in life and you have to improvise it, just like life.

Flamenco Anniversary thoughts

Today is my 5-year flamenco anniversary. It has been a relationship with my soul. I have experienced happiness and sadness, triumph and failure, pride and frustration, love and loss.  Through it all, flamenco has been a constant, allowing me to have an outlet for the fire that burns within me and an escape for my feelings. Flamenco has spirited me away and grounded me all at the same time. As I spend this anniversary in a less- than-ideal manner, not able to dance what my soul is speaking, I am reminded of the moment I took this picture. Having just left my final dance class in Triana, I stopped to look across the river. I was overcome with emotion and it hit me in one fail swoop how much I loved this place and this art form. It is memories like this I will resurrect  during my new challenges. I will give my flamenco new purpose. I will learn new things and draw from this experience to come back an even more bad-ass dancer than before (assuming I was to begin with). I dance for ME and no one else. Flamenco lives in me and I am grateful for the special people in my life for their love and support. Bring on year six!!!

Invest in your Passion

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Here I sit, not for the first time, sidelined from dancing due to a body part that isn’t on board with my passion for flamenco. For a few days, I wallowed in my situation, but now I am done with that. I will use this healing time to strengthen my body and bond with flamenco in other ways.

One thing I learned early on and continue to practice is that you MUST INVEST yourself in this craft in order to give your passion DEPTH. What I am discovering now, however, is the ability to find new ways to do that when something changes your course. Even if only temporarily.

Maybe it comes from a place of spending most of my life in cultural dance forms; first Hawaiian hula, now flamenco, but I very, very strongly believe in taking the time to find out what the heritage you are portraying means. I feel you have to understand an art form for it to be believable and have meaning.

So, while I am laid up for a few weeks, unable to dance, I will revisit some great ways to really immerse myself in the STUDY OF FLAMENCO. Yes, that’s right, it is a study. Not just showing up to dance in my ruffles and cool-ass shoes. And it’s an eternal phase; the hard work never stops and is constantly evolving. That is flamenco.

Listening to flamenco music is always first on my list. For me, listening to various styles and singers really gives me a sense of the feeling behind it and when I close my eyes, I can see myself dancing to it. It is also a great way to recognize the different palos of flamenco. I become inspired and comfortable and it releases an element of my own personal voice, or interpretation. I feel like this is so essential for demonstrating the real vibe of flamenco when I am on the dance floor.

Next, I will watch videos of both men and women dancers. I do this a lot! But the videos are not just to capture the essence of the dancers, I also pay attention to the singers and musicians, how they are responding or collaborating with the dancers, how the palmas carry the undertone, and how the whole unit acts in amazing unison. I understand that you cannot have flamenco without all of it working together, so the videos act as a good model for study. I usually always pick out a move or two from the dancer that I love and try to hold onto it in my memory bank for future use.

I will also work on what I can from a sitting position; palmas, braceo, castañuelas, etc. No time like the present to focus on what I CAN use of my body. I practice castañuelas fairly regularly but the rest will be new methodology. Taking time to focus on this should definitely help my upper body strength and precision.

I will read some more too. I’ve been lazily reading a collection of theoretical perspective essays but now I can finish it! Part of my study of flamenco is to learn the history and tradition and where it comes from. The more I know, the more I can connect to it. My goal is for it to enhance the flamenco that comes out of me and that is an earned privilege.

An added bonus to all of this is when I am feeling at an impasse and unsure where my flamenco path is taking me, I go back to its teachings. Back to the reasons I love flamenco, back to the rich history and culture, back to how it speaks to me, and back to my personal relationship with the dance. I renew my respect for the real reason I dance and I inevitably realize that is all that matters.

I think it is important, as a torch bearer of an art form filled with so much history, to reach for more knowledge, not just when you are injured and cannot dance. I am reminded of that now. Immerse yourself as much as you can in your craft. Give your art form the value it deserves. INVEST IN YOUR PASSION.

 

15 funny things said in flamenco class

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With all the crazy things we are expected to do with our bodies in dance class, it is no wonder that so many hilarious phrases and lots of innuendos are uttered…so I started making a list. I couldn’t let these golden quotes pass me by. Don’t be offended; what makes them funny is when taken out of context. 🙂

  1. If you keep your butt tucked in, it will make it stronger.
  2. Keep your knees together and just lift your leg to the side.
  3. Me: 50 You: 17. Don’t talk to me about being tired.
  4. Don’t pound so hard.
  5. It looks better if you point your toes.
  6. You can vibrate, just no bouncing.
  7. I will bang with you!
  8. I haven’t even touched myself yet.
  9. No skimping on the buttocks.
  10. Give your ass a good slap.
  11. The first time is always the hardest.
  12. Bend over, it will make it easier.
  13. Do you want it fast or slow? Make up your mind.
  14. Keep your legs closed, it’s better for you.
  15. Where are you feeling it? Then you’re doing it right/wrong! (depending on your answer)

Anyone who has taken at least a few flamenco classes will understand these comments are usually made in relation to zapateado, posture, compás, marcaje, or speed of music/cante. But, hilarious, nonetheless. Enjoy!

The magic of custom-made flamenco clothes

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I was so excited to go shopping in Spain! I would finally be amongst my fellow kindred spirts- the curvy and mature flamenca! The mentors I had seen in videos and met in person, yes…many were built like me and they had gorgeous costumes. My empty suitcase was waiting to be filled! Imagine my disappointment when I found very little off-the-rack plus sizes.  The good news is there are dress-makers abound!

If you are lucky enough to find a very talented flamenco fashion creator, like I have found in Alicia Harris, with Flamenco Closet Creations (www.everythingflamenco.com), than you will have no worries. Alicia has been making pieces and parts of my flamenco ensembles for a few years now. Her work is fantastic!

My latest piece, however, was an exciting partnership and took me to another level of individuality in flamenco; designing a dress myself!

I knew the style I wanted, the colors and what I wanted it to look like when I was dancing. Alicia said, draw me a picture and I will make it! And just like that, it happened! She brought my ideas to beautiful life!

When Alicia sent me the first few pictures from her studio mannequin, I was in awe how she was able to create an exact replica of my drawing, just so much more gorgeous! The colors were vibrant, the fabric was flowy, it was just perfect. She even surprised me with adding a shawl in the same pattern as the godets and ruffles. Wow!

The feeling of contributing to the creation of something so beautiful and original left me speechless. The feeling of pride and satisfaction made dancing in it so special.

Many flamenco shops offer custom-made flamenco apparel, so get creative and be unique! Those of us who cannot sew thank you for your magic!

 

 

When I stumble and fall…

4827700_Flamenco_dancer_on_the_ground_SMy flamenco journey travels in company with the elements of my life that fuel it. Most of the time, the journey is a harmonious retreat. Sometimes the path is an over-grown and unchartered trail.

I often write about my triumphant, satisfying and humorous moments because my flamenco dancing is intrinsically tied to them. It is natural, and expected, for those moments to reach your dance.

What I am struggling with now is a new feeling for me, the bigger picture. Am I where I should be? Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I a part of anything bigger? Do I make people happy? Am I happy? Why am I so off-balance? I am not sure how to express these except to allow the raw purity of it to escape my pen and body in an equally raw form.

Someone recently told me I was like a tractor, always pushing through with the resilience of a piece of heavy machinery. While I take that as a compliment, it also gives me pause. Most times, it is true, I plow face-first into life’s obstacles, determined to get through the massive field that stretches for what seems miles in the distance. But, sometimes, the tractor needs fuel, sometimes, the tractor needs repair, sometimes, the tractor must take a rest.

So, how does this parlay into my flamenco dancing? How do I make this stumble a part of my dance? The obvious answer is to bring all my emotions with me on the dance floor and give strength to what I emit. That has been challenging. I had another person say to me a few days ago they think I have finally found my flamenco style, that stressful situations can bring creativity. I hope that is true. I don’t know what else to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have many wonderful things in my life and feel blessed in many ways. But…the tractor is tired of always being the tractor.

I will find a way. I always do. I don’t know how to quit. In staying true to the personal “diary” intent of my blog, however, I must also document when vulnerability positions itself at my feet. I will stomp it out, one way or another.

 

Painting by: Miki de Goodaboom, 2010