By Kate Feinberg Robins
I first encountered Spanish dance when I was 10 years old and studying at Ballet Hispánico in New York City. It was my first summer intensive ballet program--I was a small-town girl from Ohio lucky enough to have a ballet teacher with connections to New York City Ballet and Steps on Broadway, and a grandmother who lived in Queens and was willing to drive me back and forth every day to Manhattan.
I remember eating my packed lunch between classes, listening to the chatter of Spanish around me. I remember putting on my dance shoes, thrilled, intimidated, and mystified by the idea of dancing in heels. And I still remember perfectly my favorite step from that summer: tacón-planta-tacón, tacón-planta-tacón, over and over across the studio, moving faster and faster, clicking heels and toes against the floor in a sharp crisp rhythm.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate Spanish dance more and more. It has much in common with ballet, particularly in its upper body movements, but is less physically strenuous and more accessible to dancers with a variety of physiques.
At Find Your Center, I’ll be teaching Spanish dance as a supplement to our ballet and capoeira classes. The wrist movements make it excellent training for weight-bearing movements done on the wrists in capoeira. And--it’s just fun!
Probably the most famous form of Spanish dance is flamenco. Thanks to youtube, you can give it a try in your very own living room--just try not to irritate your downstairs neighbors with your stomping.
For an excellent introduction to flamenco, I recommend the youtube series Flamenco Class Andrea del Conte. The videos are succinct and informative, beginning with a brief explanation of where flamenco comes from and then moving through the basics of technique (including tacón and planta foot movements), complete with exercises to learn and practice on your own.
With this solid base, you can come to Find Your Center next year ready to dance with your fellow students—and maybe even invite those downstairs neighbors!