20 life lessons flamenco dancing has taught me

pl-87flamencolr_jpgNo one is more surprised than me to think of all the things flamenco dancing has taught me; life lessons…qualities and characteristics that transcend the art form and become a way of life. As I sat one morning with a cup of java, I started making a list. Here are 20 life lessons that flamenco dancing has taught (or re-instilled) in me. Accepting and acknowledging these facets of my growth has made following my passion so much more rewarding!

  1. AGE is irrelevant –  flamenco dancing is for all ages.
  2. BODY style is unimportant – flamenco dancing is for all bodies.
  3. Take RISKS – try something new, branch out, explore options, you  may surprise yourself.
  4. Get out of your HEAD – don’t let that destructive inner voice get the better of you. Easier said than done, I know.
  5. Set the bar HIGH for yourself – only YOU can outdo YOU.
  6. Have PATIENCE – flamenco is a multi-layered and long learning process, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
  7. PRACTICE – if you want to get better and progress, practice!! Simple as that. You get what you put in.
  8. Just TRY – You don’t know unless you try, right? In my book, the only failure is when you don’t try.
  9. Be PREPARED – always show up ready to deliver your A game. You owe that to yourself and others.
  10. Work WELL with others –  be considerate of one another’s investment, hard work and desire to be a part of this amazing art form.
  11. Be SUPPORTIVE – it’s crucial to be there for each other, offer encouragement and help when needed.
  12. Remember, you have a STORY to tell – your dancing is yours alone, your story, your expression, your feelings…never forget that. It will be unique and individual.
  13. Take CARE of yourself – you have to take care of your mind and body in order to go the distance and dance for many years to come.
  14. Get IN TOUCH with your body, its rhythm, its core – know your self, your movements, what works, what doesn’t, and what feels good. Then do it in comp谩s! 馃檪
  15. Have CONFIDENCE – dance for yourself and no one else and do so with conviction. I have struggled with this one the most but cannot stress enough the importance of believing in yourself.
  16. Share KNOWLEDGE – there is always someone ahead of and behind you on the path so share what you know.
  17. Be willing to get in touch with your EMOTIONS – let it go, let it all out! THAT is the heart of flamenco! Feel the dance inside you.
  18. LISTEN, OBSERVE, ABSORB – you will never stop learning, you will always be a student. Period. Take it all in.
  19. MISTAKES are ok – they are opportunities to learn and grow. No one is perfect. The most seasoned dancers make mistakes.
  20. Have FUN and enjoy the ride with your fellow flamencos!

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A hidden escape in Sevilla

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I was in awe on many occasions of the rich history and tranquility of Sevilla. My visit to the ancient baths was no exception. I had this on my list of “things to do” while visiting the city last year with my flamenco group, but the聽trip was nearly over by the time聽a few of us scrambled to make an online reservation.

First, a little history to put the ambiance in perspective. Aire de Sevilla is housed in a 16th century casa palacio,聽restored 15 years ago by a wealthy viceroy to the Indies. The mansion is built on the foundation of a Roman ruin from the first century AD.聽Public baths were a customary Arabic tradition inherited from the Byzantine and Romans and were used for hygiene and socializing. With the Christian reconquista, most baths were destroyed, however, the聽custom remained in Andalucia.

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The setting was breathtaking. The various thermal baths and salt pool were聽surrounded by ancient Roman vaults, mudejar carved ceilings and dark walls lined with small candles and lanterns.

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Once we donned our swimsuits, we set about on our route through the thermal springs. We stepped first into a warm water bath and I soon wondered why I needed to move at all. The dimly lit room聽with the prominent silencio sign was all I needed to close my eyes and relax. But there was more. The hot and cold baths were surprisingly invigorating. A few minutes in the hot water followed by a dip in the ice cold pool made my skin tingle and feel alive. Our next stop was the Thousand Jet Stream room, a hydrotherapy pool filled with pockets of carved-out concrete perfectly sized for sitting in while the jets pulsated against your neck, back and legs. I dare say we lingered here the longest. The jets just felt so good massaging our sore bodies. When we finally decided to continue on, we made our way to the steam bath or Hammam.

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It was super relaxing and I was beginning to feel the contrast of all the聽treatments thus far. The final stop on the thermal bath tour was the underground salt pool. It was encased by an ancient style brick wall and you really felt you were below the earths surface with the temperature of the room and faint lighting. Floating through the salted water brought me to a state of mental and physical bliss.

 

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To round out the spa-like adventure, we indulged in a 15 minute massage of our back, legs, arms, feet and head. Ok, now THIS was heaven! I am not a massage connoisseur聽but this ranks up there as the best I’ve ever had. For only 15 minutes, it was thorough and not at all rushed as we lay in a separate massage room that held the same ancient tranquility as the other rooms.

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The icing on the cake? This 90 minute session was only 54 euros! (There are numerous packages available for different price ranges). 聽I am so glad we did not miss this opportunity. The therapeutic and respiratory health benefits are reason enough to visit this hidden escape in Sevilla. The staff was courteous, the experience was calming and luxurious and they thought of everything with the amenities – after your session,聽you’ll find聽a fully stocked bathroom with all the items needed to shower and dress for your next unique adventure in Sevilla.聽 Next time, I will enjoy the rooftop infinity pool and wine bath!

(photos聽courtesy of聽Aire de Sevilla http://www.airedesevilla.com/en/)

 

 

 

Welcome to Fleur de Flamenco

I am a blossoming flamenca. I am learning and growing and unfolding; opening my soul to flamenco. And Louisville, Kentucky is where I found and am nurturing this art. I am a student/dancer/performer with the best flamenco studio in town- Flamenco Louisville!

I invite you to walk with me through my flamenco experience. This blog is dedicated to chronicling my journey from a total newbie three years ago through my continued progress forward.

So, here I am, on a new adventure of writing about my flamenco life. I hope you enjoy the ride with me! Ol茅! Vamos!

 

My flamenco pilgrimage

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It has taken me a little over five months of being home from Spain for it all to settle in…and there has been much to absorb. There was a magic about being in Spain all its own, but learning flamenco there was just perfect.

Going to Sevilla changed me as a flamenco dancer. I feel renewed, energized and awake. Seeing all the professionals and their immense natural talent gave me such inspiration and appreciation for the art form. The large decorative theaters and elaborate stage productions on top of the mind-blowing dancing left me in awe. It was very educational to see flamenco translated in this way.

Witnessing up close and personal the tablao shows was amazing and the aire they flung off the stage was contagious. Being able to get a birds-eye view of the attitude and passion was an invaluable experience. I mean, you can’t walk away from a performance where the sweat from the male dancers hair slings you in the face without some level of exhilaration!

My trip to Spain also changed me, and probably more deeply, on a personal level. Taking classes from a renowned artist enabled me to be surrounded by students who came from around the world on their quest for more flamenco skill and knowledge. I researched and chose my teacher carefully, based on who I felt I could get the most from. And she did not disappoint; Mercedes Ruiz was not just a technique-rich dancer, but a dancer with concaved, pinched, and bent body while still holding beautiful lines. More puro form, in my opinion, and that’s what I was looking for.

Most importantly, I gained confidence. I firmly believe it is a confidence I could not have acquired anywhere else. I was initially a bit worried how I would manage taking classes every single day on top of a busy schedule outside of class. I was very happy with myself that I hung in there, tested my stamina by showing up every day and picking up most of the fast-paced instruction. Looking back, I am still surprised at my level of activity; walking for hours, shopping, sightseeing, going to shows, staying up late into the night and still having enough steam in me to go to a very rigorous class the next morning.

That confidence followed me back home, too. I felt different walking into the studio after that. I stood a little taller. I held my chin up a little higher. I knew my body a little better. I just felt like I finally believed I was good enough.

Beyond that, I am more appreciative of the culture and traditions. I have become more aware of a people who are so happy to share the art of flamenco with those of us who cannot possibly truly feel the manifestation of it’s origins.

The new meaning of flamenco for me now is so much more real and deep. I have been to the epicenter of flamenco and I have witnessed the masters. I have walked the streets, eaten the food, enjoyed my flamenco community, learned from one of the best and surpassed the personal goals I set for myself. I feel empowered.

Flamenco has taken a sure space in my soul now, more than ever before. I feel it in my bones. And I want my dancing to display the soulful expression of my journey.

New flamenco goals.

(photo found on http://www.paladarytomar.com)

 

 

The pleasure and pain of flamenco dance props

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Anyone who has danced flamenco for more than a couple of years has probably encountered dancing with a prop; castanets (casta帽uelas), fan (peric贸n), cane (bast贸n) or silk shawl (manton). 聽As a dancer progresses on her flamenco journey, these props are creatively added to the mix. If keeping the rhythmic timing of body, arms, and feet isn’t hard enough, we learn how to integrate with our movements these beautiful but tricky accessories of the dance.

These accoutrements most assuredly add an extra sense of technique, elegance, musicality, visual appeal and overall oomph to a performance but if you have tendencies like mine, it can also provide moments of unplanned panic, hilarity and a few boo-boo’s. It’s like a new chef learning how to use his first professional knife set; the cuts and scrapes and mishaps are part of the journey of mastering your tools of the trade.

The castanets are still not part of my performance vocabulary. My rolls come and go like the wind, even with my daily 5-minute practicing. I think I’m progressing and then I lose it. It always comes back again, like they decided to take a little siesta or something, so at least there’s that. One of these days, the elusive roll will decide to live with me forever and then I can perform with them. 聽Hopefully, while I still have fingers left.

The fan, well, let’s just say grenade launcher might be a more suitable term. It has, on more than one occasion, not-so-elegantly flown out of my hands amidst a turn, 聽propelling its way toward an innocent victim. Or the numerous times I have skimmed my face or arms with the paper-fine edges, or the unfortunate moments it has simply fallen out of my grasp and ended up two feet in front of me on the floor, broken to boot.

Heading down to the lower extremities, we have the toe-crushing bast贸n. I love the bast贸n but I’m not sure how much it loves me. Thumping it on the floor with a purposeful aggression, in time, or in contra, with footwork has caused a few near misses-and a few spot-on hits. I do believe my knees, shins and poor little toes have felt the bast贸nes wrath more than once.

Last, but not least, there is the exotically designed manton, along with its formidable counterpart; the fringe. What a spectacular instrument of flamenco this is, being whirled around one’s body like a bird in flight. At least that’s what happens in the YouTube videos I watch. My reality has been a little less picturesque. I do alright most of the time but just when I’m getting all comfy, the manton decides to teach me a lesson. It is during these heart-stopping moments I find the most humor. Later. Afterwards. Not then. It is pure panic mode when the manton leaves my hands to fall (not so gracefully) to the floor, or when it stubbornly weaves itself around my hair flowers or earrings, or when it suddenly and awkwardly cascades over my head mid-whip like a curtain dropping at the end of a theater show. Try flamenco’ing your way out of that one!

I know the intent of the flamenco prop; to display the versatility and technique of the dance as well as of the dancer. I love utilizing them to bring a different feel to my dancing. I know these props will become more fluid for me, in time and with more practice. I mean, geez, it has only been a couple of years of prop indoctrination. Flamenco infancy.

No one told me the joy of learning flamenco would include having stock in aspirin, cold compresses, bandages, bactin and the like. I must really love it. So, for now, when this metaphorical cutlery set of flamenco dancing takes on a life of its own, my first-aid kit and humility are close by. 馃檪

 

 

Making new flamenco friends

Making new flamenco friends from Dublin, Ireland!

Fleur de Flamenco

I am happy to write about my experiences in flamenco, it is a wonderful chronicle of my journey and a great exercise for my love of writing. However, along the way, I am also making new flamenco friends from all over the world!

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Dublin Andalusia

http://www.dublinandalusia.com

I鈥檝e made a new global flamenco friend! Flamenco has reached Ireland with Dublin Andalusia, a dance school specializing in flamenco who is sharing the Spanish culture with the people of the Emerald Isle. Transport yourself to Southern Spain while you learn ways to stay in shape through dance and discover the delight of flamenco! Another great reason to visit Ireland!!

Ambiente Flamenco

Based out of the UK, Ambiente Flamenco has tons of very useful information and online resources for all things flamenco. As a student still finding my way in the flamenco world in many ways, this site has a lot of great鈥

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Blogger Recognition Award

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I am excited and honored to have been nominated for The Blogger Recognition Award! Fleur de Flamenco is a labor of love so it is very gratifying to be recognized. Thank you so much for nominating me, One Flawsome Momma. Please check out her blog and enjoy reading about her reflections on single-parenting and embracing confidence, flaws and all! https://oneflawsomemomma.wordpress.com

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Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

 

Story of how I started:

I am blossoming and learning and growing and unfolding; opening my soul to flamenco. And Louisville, Kentucky is where I found and am nurturing this art. As I progressed on my flamenco journey, I wanted to do more to express how profoundly it touched my life, so I started my blog. Combining my love of writing and dance allows me to share my flamenco experiences with others, to walk with me as I laugh, cry, celebrate, struggle and fall deeper in love with this passionate cultural art form.

Advice to new bloggers:
1. Write what you are passionate about and focus on quality content. Then, your blog will be great, no matter what it’s about. Let your heart pour out.
2. Use photos or images. I did not do that in the beginning but now,聽when I do, it always draws more attention to the posts聽and gives a more realistic sense to the topic.
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I have been blessed聽to come in contact with, network and read so many great blogs. Here are a few of my favorites.
I nominate: