Written by: Ailish Dixon (Session 1)
Today our Maymester group went to take Flamenco lessons in Madrid! A few days ago we went to see a Flamenco performance in a cave in Granada and the experience was incredible. We were right up close to the performers so we could really see every slight movement and facial expression of the dancers. We could really feel the music and
movement as it enveloped the room. The performance had such a huge impact on me and everyone in our group as we had never seen anyone dance with such skill, passion and emotion before. Although learning Flamenco ourselves for the first time was definitely not going to come out looking like the breathtaking performance we experienced in Granada, everyone was very excited to learn some Flamenco.
I am a dance minor at Holy Cross and have been dancing since I was little. Having a dance background was definitely very helpful in the class. However, Flamenco was very different from any style of dance I had ever learned before. I found that the
most difficult part of Flamenco for me was the difference in the tempo of the music and the shifting rhythms. Most of the music that I have danced to in the past is in basic 4/4 meter and is based on consistent counts of 8. The rhythm or beat in Flamenco is called the cómpas and dancers use palmas, which is clapping hands and stomping feet, to keep to the rhythm while dancing. The class started with us learning basic cómpas and the corresponding palmas. This compas served as the basis for the rhythm of the dance combination that the Flamenco instructor taught the group.
Before Flamenco class we spoke about Lorca and his explanation of the concept of duende in our class lecture. Duende is a feeling
or self-expression that comes directly from one’s soul. Duende is expressed in the arts through passion, moving the audience and demonstrating an intense personal connection between the artist and their art. Although we only had an hour to learn some very basic flamenco steps, the class and the performance we experienced gave me a glimpse into the meaning of duende in Flamenco dance. From the short Flamenco combination, I discovered a contrast between movements exuding passion and movement that established strength or power. There was also a contrast between tension and release in the Flamenco choreography. Many of the movements required intense muscle control, making the movements very precise. Everyone had a lot of fun learning some basic Flamenco steps. I hope to get the chance to take another class and learn more Flamenco in the future!