Thursday, September 10, 2009


¡Dios mío! - how I LOVE Flamenco!!

More importantly - I miss my Flamenco classes. But due to a personal recession - I am taking a mini-break, but will return very soon.

What I wanted to share with my dear readers is why I love to watch Flamenco dancing, hear the music, and just be whisked away with the intensity of the stories.

I have followed various dance styles since I was a very young girl. My first love of dance took place when I was probably 3 - watching my mom dance around in her belly-dancing costume. She would take her shawl and swish it around me - it seemed so magical.

Then later, she and my dad took disco dance classes. (Remember, this is the 70s.) I watched them demonstrate moves in the middle of the living room. (Yes, I probably know every Bee Gees song by heart.) I used to sneak my mom's Saturday Night Fever album into my room and try to imitate their moves.

Then one magical evening, my mom took me to see The Nut Cracker. *sigh* There are no words. I was mesmerized and wanted nothing more than to live in this fantasy world and specifically - I wanted to be the Sugar Plum Fairy.

I remember going home that night and praying that I, too, would get the chance to dance on a stage and wear the pretty pink satiny shoes and a pretty pink tutu. ;-)

So mom and dad entered me in dance lessons. I took ballet, tap and jazz. It started out simple enough. Once a week - turned into twice a week - sometimes Saturdays.

The classes even went from one hour to two to two & 1/2. I was hooked! I danced my entire childhood and teenage years. Up until I was about 12 I wanted to be a ballerina. Then I wanted to be a teacher. There is no denying the fact that I was addicted to movement.

But something happened when I was about 7. I remember my mom used to get up really early in the mornings to drive my dad to work. We had one car - a little yellow dodge colt, and mom would scoop me and my sister up and we would sleep in the back seat while she drove dad. There was this one morning (probably 4ish or 5ish) it was definitely still dark - I heard this song. Maybe not so much the lyrics - but the beat. Bump bump bump.. don don don don don don... bump. That bump-don beat would be the sound of "Another One Bites the Dust."

This song made me want to dance. To move. To stomp my feet. Something about the bass and the beat. That was it. I liked passion. I liked intensity. I liked things that had a very set beat.

Next I found my elementary school version of a disco - the skating rink. Durrs skating rink to be exact. This is where I could let loose (in my mind at least) and feel the music as I attempted to swoosh around in circles in my cheap brown roller skates.

Later I became exposed to more and more international beats. Latin music was one that really struck a cord with me. With it's sassy hip movements and quick steps, you could be whisked away and feel beautiful at the same time. Nothing to me is more feminine than Salsa. Nothing makes a woman look more sensual than this.
I even took an Israeli Folk dance class in my late twenties. This was an opportunity to learn how to dance in a circle, clap your hands and celebrate a different culture.
In elementary school I even tried American Square Dancing. I have to tell you, that is DEFINITELY NOT my cup of tea... but it is good I tried.
Tango, cha-cha, samba - these are all other types of dance I took a little swing at through out the years. Lo ved it all.
But there was one type of dance that has always fascinated me - FLAMENCO. This time last year, I embarked on a new journey - to learn this style of dance.
Let me begin by saying - there is possibly not a more complicated form of dance. Sincerely. It may LOOK simple - a few steps, a few claps, a few arm movements - do NOT be fooled. The combinations are extremely difficult, fast and precise. Your arms are going one way, your feet are burning up the floor, the hands are turning the other way - all the while, you are expressing an intensity many would not understand.
The stories in Flamenco are heart breaking and passionate. The costumes are beautiful and meant to captivate.

I want to invite all of my friends to support the arts in Birmingham. In particular - the latest performance from my dance instructor's school. Don't miss El Amor Brujo on Sat. and Sun., September 26th at 8PM and 27th at 2PM!!! Tickets on sale via paypal to or at Dance Essentials - call 205-873-5377. When you get a chance - please check out their website -
I have met some of the most talented dancers and the most amazing people at Irene's studio. Many have become dear friends.
As you go through this blog, please make sure to click on the individual highlighted words - open your mind to different forms of dance. The art form is obviously my favorite- and for those who are looking for a way to get healthy, it is also a healthy option.
I wish beyond anything I had the $$$ to take every type of dance class in the area that interests me. Alas, I must wait. But you can always appreciate - and enjoy the craft.
Again - I highly recommend learning more about Flamenco. I think in this region we are not very educated on the art form.
You know.. Flamenco is a Spanish musical genre with origins in Andalusia and a term that refers both to a musical genre, known for its intricate rapid passages, and a dance genre characterized by its audible footwork.
The origins of the term are unclear. The word Flamenco, which applies to the song, the dance and the guitar, did not come into use until the 19th century.

Flamenco embodies a complex musical and cultural tradition. Although considered part of the culture of Spain, flamenco actually originates from one of Spain's regions: Andalusia.
However, other areas, mainly Extremadura and Murcia, have contributed to the development of several flamenco musical forms, and a great number of renowned flamenco artists have been born in other territories of the country.
It is generally acknowledged that flamenco grew out of the unique interplay of native Arabic, Andalusian, Sephardic, and Gypsy cultures that existed in Andalusia prior to and after the Reconquest.
Flamenco is the music of the gypsies and played in their social community. Andalusian people who grew up around gypsies, and the life, were also accepted as "flamencos" (Paco de Lucía).

"Flamencologists" or "Pro Dancers" have usually been flamenco connoisseurs of no specific academic training in the fields of history or musicology. They have tended to rely on a limited number of sources (mainly the writings of 19th century folklorist Demófilo, and notes by foreign travellers.
Bias has also been frequent in flamencology. This started to change in the 1980s, when flamenco slowly started to be included in music conservatories, and a growing number of musicologists and historians began to carry out more rigorous research. Since then, some new data have shed new light on it.
There are questions not only about the origins of the music and dances of flamenco, but also about the origins of the very word flamenco. George Borrow writes that the word flemenc is synonymous with ("Gypsy").

Blas Infante, in his book Orígenes de los Flamencos y Secreto del Cante Jondo, controversially argued that the word flamenco comes from Hispano-Arabic word fellahmengu, which would mean "expelled peasant" after the end of the Moorish reign, term to the ethnic Andalusians of Muslim faith, the Moriscos, who would have mixed with the Gypsy newcomers in order to avoid religious persecution.
Other hypotheses concerning the term's etymology include connections with Flanders (flamenco also means Flemish in Spanish), believed by Spanish people to be the origin of the Gypsies, or the flamante (ardent) execution by the performers, or the flamingos.

However, in the 1990s works of scholars, such as the above mentioned Rios Ruiz and Álvarez Caballero demonstrated that there is much historical data available on early flamenco.

I want each of you to explore this. Enjoy this. Feel it. Take a class in it.
Ahhh.. I love to dance.. and just had to share this. ;-)
Yes... this is my oldest passion.

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