Learning Flamenco

by | Apr 2, 2016 | Chasing Freedom Blog | 7 comments

Luckily, the school makes the studios available to the students for practice from 8 am to 11 pm every day. So, I came in over the weekend and practiced the routines. While practicing, I was aware that I was training my brain on how to dance Flamenco. I was literally creating the synapses and reminding my brain “this is what it feels like to do it correctly.” On Monday I was much improved.

I had the best teacher. Pilar is an extremely accomplished dancer. During my time at Carmen de las Cuevas, Pilar was very pregnant, but she never let it get in her way. And she was so patient with us. She would just keep repeating the steps until we got them. I really appreciated that she never made us dance alone. We always followed her. Although quiet and sweet, she had a very strong and centered intensity when she danced.

When planning this trip to Spain I may have forgotten a few things… like the fact that I haven’t had a dance class in years, or that I was always considered uncoordinated as a child, or that I am clearly past the age when most people would begin a dance program. All of these thoughts entered my mind at different times during my first week at Carmen de Las Cuevas.

It was actually good that I didn’t think about these things too much or I would never have come here. Thoughts like that are what hold people back from pursuing their dreams. They are also self-fulfilling prophecies. For when I was learning and a fearful thought would come up it would literally stop my mind from learning. I had to occasionally clear my mind and empty it so that my body and brain could work together. Regardless, at times I was frustrated.

With Pilar Fajardo, my instructor

On my first day of class, I wore a big blouse and pants. I had no idea how to dress and I was uncomfortable in my body. I had gained some weight over the last few years and tended to wear clothes that covered my curves. Also, I didn’t really identify with being a dancer. It was just something I wanted to try, not a part of my life. I didn’t even feel comfortable looking at myself in the large, studios mirrors. At one point, Pilar said gently “Hay que mirar al publico, no solo los pies.” (You have to look at the public, not just your feet.) Over the next few days, as I started to improve and I saw that I was able to do the steps just like everyone else, I started to dress more like a dancer. I started wearing leggings and tighter long-sleeved shirts, so that I could see how my body moved. I wanted to look like the dancer I was becoming. By the end of the course I was able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of the woman reflected back.
Flamenco Studio

With Carmen Linares, owner of Carmen de Las Cuevas

The word “cuevas” means caves and there are many caves and cave houses built into the sides of mountains in Granada. The school, Carmen de Las Cuevas is literally in a cave. Inside, one would not really notice it’s in a cave, except for the fact that there are no windows. The dance studio above had this lovely, soft lighting that made the white-washed walls glow. I  used that studio twice to practice alone and I felt like I was in this very special, womb-like space. You could feel the energy of years of Flamenco dancers and guitar players practicing there.
“First you have to have a vision. If you have a vision, anything is possible!” Carmen Linares

Owner , Carmen de Las Cuevas

I had a chance to sit down with Carmen Linares, co-owner of Carmen de Las Cuevas. Carmen told me that the school is over 25 years old and originally offered Spanish classes. Over the years, they began offering Flamenco courses as well. Now, the school is internationally known in both areas. Carmen handles all of the curriculum and organization of both Spanish and Flamenco. When I asked her if she had any advice for women trying to make the most of their lives, she said “First you have to have a vision. If you have a vision, anything is possible!”
Below are some photos I took at the Alhambra, a palace built by the Moors when they controlled the area. My Flamenco course is over and I’m heading to Madrid on Monday. I hope you’re all doing great! Please post a comment letting me know what you’ve been up to. :)

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