What is flamenco?
Flamenco is a fusion art form with historic roots in Andalusia, a region in southern Spain. Flamenco's musical forms, dances and cultural practices reflect attributes of the many cultures that influenced the region: Arabic, North African, European, Byzantine, Celtic, Jewish and Hindi-Pakistani. Flamenco has four elements: Cante (song), Baile (dance), Toque (guitar), and Jaleo (rhythmic commotion and vocal sound making). These four elements come together to create flamenco's emotional depth and high energy. Flamenco songs and dances express the full spectrum of human emotion, from deep grief to anger to humor to joy!
Do I need special shoes?
You will need shoes with strong heels, comfortable width in the toes, and flexible metatarsal area so that you can easily flex your toes. (No spike heels, pointy toed-shoes, or rigid soles.) You don't have to purchase flamenco shoes immediately; you may find a shoe that will work for you at a thrift store or in your closet at home. But the sooner you can dance in real flamenco shoes the better. They will make flamenco footwork techniques easier to perform and flamenco dances more fun to do!
This is really two questions! First, "will flamenco dancing damage my feet?" When you use proper technique, your feet are safe from the impact of flamenco footwork. If your feet are anatomically sound, they will get stronger and healthier because flamenco develops robust neurological connections that enliven reflexes of the lower body. Ask the instructor anytime you are concerned about whether you are performing movements correctly or if you feel discomfort. The second question is "will my feet ever hurt from flamenco dance?" As with other forms of exercise, you may experience soreness simply because you are not used to the activity or your new shoes. The fun, excitement, and pleasure of flamenco dance will soon overcome any initial discomfort.
Do I need a skirt?
You don't have to have a skirt for your first class, but eventually you will want to learn how to move with a skirt in the flamenco style. The best practice skirts are fitted at the waist (not gathered) and full at the hemline. Mid-calf or full-length skirts are best for practice. If your practice skirt is full length, you will need to lift it up so that your feet can be seen. Some students purchase full length practice skirts to use also in performance. Red or black are best colors for performance skirts. There are many sources for skirts. If you sew, they are not hard to make. You may already have a skirt in your closet that will work or you may want to go shopping online or resale stores!
Can men dance flamenco?
Yes! There are many amazing male flamenco dancers. Look on YouTube for male flamenco dance artists like Antonio Canales, Farruquito, Manolette, El Guito, Joaquin Cortes, Israel Galvan and others! The flamenco dance style emphasizes strength, control, athleticism and speed, performance capacities that appeal to both men and women. Men can purchase flamenco dance boots online from the sources listed above or check with a store in Albuquerque: New Mexico Dance Wear
Where can I find flamenco music? Are there particular artists I should look for?
There are many, many resources for flamenco music, and Youtube is a good source if you would like to browse and learn which flamenco artists most appeal to you. Look for guitarists like Paco de Lucia, Paco Peña, and Amigo Vicente; look for singers like Camaron de la Isla, Carmen Linares, Maria Vargas, and José Merce. Flamenco styles vary greatly by region, by historic era, and gender, so there is much to learn. Enjoy!
What is a Peña?
A Peña is social club in Spain based on its members' shared interest in soccer, bullfighting, or flamenco! Originally inspired by recordings of the music of the Peña Flamenco Femenina de Huelva, Adair developed her first Peña-style performance group in Tucson, Arizona in 2007, and has been teaching, performing, and choreographing for the Peña Flamenca de Taos since 2011. Peña-style is also a way of learning flamenco that integrates the music and culture of Andalucia and invites everyone to enter into the flamenco social circle and participate at their own level. Learning the rhythmic forms, the hand clapping techniques, and the singing style of flamenco cante is a challenging adventure and great fun!
Dancing, singing, and guitar? (Do you need all of it together?)
Flamenco is exciting when all artistic elements are present, but the guitar and cajon are actually latecomers to the flamenco arts. Historically flamenco was performed with only the human body as its source: palmas, (hand clapping of rhythms), cante (songs of joy, sorrow and storytelling), and baile (the dance form) emerging directly from the body in response to the music and emotions of the moment. The Peña Flamenca de Taos is very happy to now be working with flamenco guitarist Doug Goodhart, but we have also performed many times in the more indigenous, historic method with just our voices, dancing bodies and flamenco's fourth artistic element, the jaleo (high spirited rhythmic and vocal commotion). ¡Olé!