Where to Find the Best Flamenco in Spain
Flamenco's roots are deeply intertwined in the Andalusian culture of the southern-most region of Spain. If you travel there to dance, you'll be in good company—from aficionados to professionals, flamencos from all over the world flock to cities like Madrid, Jerez, Sevilla and Granada. Each has its own appeal, whether you're looking for intensive study or just to catch an amazing performance:
Known for its lively nightlife and museums, this European capital has lots to offer flamenco dancers.
Where to take class: Madrid is home to one of the most famous flamenco schools: Amor de Dios. From dawn until dusk, the sounds of flamenco footwork carry onto the busy street below. The dozens of studios and hallways hold history—photographs, costumes, old flyers and newspaper clippings line the walls. You can take class from flamenco legends of the 20th century, such as La Tati and Merche Esmeralda, or icons of the 21st century such as Concha Jareño and Alfonso Losa. Classes focus on drilling technique, from flamenco to Spanish classical. In the market below, you can catch these master teachers buying fresh produce or having a coffee between classes.
Amor de Dios, PC Beatrix Mexi Molnar
Where to see a performances: If you have any energy after class, tablaos (small theater venues, traditional flamenco performance spaces) such as La Carboneras, Casa Patas or La Villa Rosa are a great place to wind down and see flamenco in an intimate setting.
Las Carboneras Tablao in Madrid. PC Las Carboneras
Jerez de la Frontera
If a big city is not your scene, Jerez de la Frontera, home to the Centro Andaluz de Flamenco (Spain's national flamenco archive), might be a better fit.
The homegrown style: Bulerías, a festive dance usually part of flamenco parties and featured at the end of many flamenco performances, comes from this small town. Learning the steps along with the songs can help you understand the intricate communication between dancer and singer.
Peña Flamenca La Bulería
Where to see a performance: Check out Peña Flamenca La Bulería, where aficionados gather to hear masters of flamenco music and dance in an un-amplified, intimate setting for a reasonable price.
What to drink: Jerez means sherry, and in fact the sweet wine comes from this small town. Most bodegas have tastings, or enjoy sherry at a sidewalk café as you people-watch.
The winding, labyrinth-like streets of Sevilla hold flamenco at nearly every bend and turn.
Where to take class: Sevilla has several flamenco schools, from the avant-garde Andrés Marín's Flamenco Abierto to Juana Amaya's gypsy-style flamenco studio, or Spanish classical at Flamenco Danza. Classes in Sevilla focus less on technique and more on stylized versions of flamenco along with the dance's connection to the cante (singing).
A winding street in Sevilla. PC Alice Blumenfeld
Getting around: It might take you a few tries to get from one studio to another—the streets intertwine and curve so you lose all sense of direction. But chances are, you will run into colleagues from flamenco class sooner or later, so enjoy a Cruzcampo (Sevilla's local beer). Rehearsal studios are available in many areas of the city for as little as three Euros an hour, so you can practice your new steps.
The festival scene: If you visit Sevilla in the spring, be sure to spend a day (or a few) at the Feria de Abril, a week-long celebration where the people of Sevilla gather wearing traditional trajes flamencas (dresses worn to the feria) and dance Sevillanas, a regional folk dance closely related to flamenco. The city comes alive with colorful outfits, singing, dancing, blooming orange blossoms and horse carriages.
Feria de Sevilla. PC Alice Blumenfeld
Every other fall the Bienal de Sevilla takes place, with top flamenco artists from Spain and around the world premiering new works. The festival has also added a series of free outdoor performances featuring the city's Moorish buildings, cathedrals and parks as the backdrop.
Granada's flamenco has a mystique like no other. There's a reason writers and artists from around the world were inspired by this city and its Moorish palace, The Alhambra.
What to do: Climbing the narrow stone streets of the Albayzín, an ancient neighborhood with whitewashed houses and steep narrow steps, makes a great pre-class warm-up. You can get awe-inspiring views of the landscape in the valley below. You may also feel like you've traveled back in time, surrounded by Moorish architecture and merchants selling textiles and other goods from northern Africa.
View of the Alhambra from the Albayzín neighborhood in Granada. PC Alice Blumenfeld
Where to take class: Many flamenco classes and performances take place in caves. Yes, caves! But don't worry: They have lights, a dance floor, and if you're lucky, air conditioning.
Granada's Cathedral. PC Wenjie Zhang, flickr
Granada, Sevilla and Jerez are all very close, and Madrid is just a few hours from Sevilla on the Ave, the high-speed train linking much of Spain. Wherever you decide to go, Spain's flamenco community will surely welcome and inspire you.
When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."
But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.
From coast to coast, choreographers have spent the first year of Donald Trump's presidency responding to the impact of his election and what it means for them as artists.
New York City's Dante Brown used rubber Trump masks in his work Package (revamped), which examines the monstrosities of power.
A video titled "Dancers vs. Trump Quotes" went viral last summer, showing dancers taking Trump's "locker-room" talk to task.
Alexis Convento, lead curator of the New York City–based Current Sessions, dedicated a whole program to the concept of resistance, while educator and interdisciplinary artist Jill Sigman has initiated a workshop called "Body Politic, Somatic Selves," as a space for movement research around questions of support, activism and solidarity.
In San Francisco, choreographer Margaret Jenkins facilitated a panel of artists about the role of activism within their work.
Growing up in inner city Rochester, NY, Aesha Ash was just one of the neighborhood kids. She'd imagine people driving by, judging her by her black skin.
"They'd never know that I was dreaming of becoming a professional ballet dancer. No one would think, Some day she's going to make it into New York City Ballet," says Ash.
After an inspiring career at NYCB, Béjart's Ballet Lausanne and LINES, the January 2006 Dance Magazine cover star—one of our 25 to Watch that year—is no longer performing. But she's determined to use her dance background to change the stereotypes and misconceptions that people—including black people—have about women of color. "I want to show it's okay to embrace our softer side, and let the world know we're multidimensional," says Ash.
Aesha Ash in Richmond, CA. PC Renee Scott via swandreamsproject.org
In 2011, she launched the Swan Dreams Project to inspire kids in the community she grew up in. The original idea was to post images of herself in a tutu all over Rochester. "I remember growing up and in the bodega you'd see images of girls in bikinis on motorbikes," says Ash. "I wanted to replace those with photos that show women of color in a different light."
She knew the power imagery can have: She still remembers what it felt like as a student at the School of American Ballet to see a photo of black ballet dancer Andrea Long. "That image was everything on days when I was feeling disenchanted. I'd see that picture of her, and know that the struggles I was going through, she went through them, too."
Ash soon realized she didn't have the budget to fund her original plan ("I never realized how expensive a bus stop advertisement is!"). But she's made the images available through an online store, and often simply gives away prints at her own expense to schools and students in need of some inspiration.
Any proceeds she makes from the sales go directly to other organizations that are working to expand ballet in diverse communities. One large donation even led to a pointe shoe fund at dancer Robyn Gardenhire's City Ballet of Los Angeles school—and it helped one dancer who had quit ballet because of the expense come back to class.
Now a mother of two in San Jose, CA, Ash will also start teaching a free after-school ballet class at her daughter's public school next month. "I recently taught at Girls Inc. in Oakland, and one of the little black girls said, 'Are you the ballet teacher?' She just stood there, staring at me with her mouth open, like a unicorn had just walked into the room," Ash says. "You never know the impact you can have just by being a presence."
Ever find yourself lusting after that six o'clock penché, or a développé that will reach your nose? You're not alone. The eye is naturally drawn to the end points of a movement, and, in dance, that often translates to the highest extension.
But what if you're born without extreme, Instagram-worthy lines? It's a matter of developing a laser focus on alignment as well as strengthening and stretching with better body mechanics in mind.
When London-based perfume company The Beautiful Mind Series was looking for a collaborator for their next scent, they skipped the usual celebrity set and brought in prima ballerina Polina Semionova instead. "I was fascinated by what goes on in the mind of a great dancer," perfumer Geza Schoen said in a press release. Semionova's ballet-inspired scent, Precision & Grace, celebrates the intelligence and beauty behind her craft.
Courtesy of The Beautiful Mind Series
The ever-so-busy Kyle Abraham is back in New York City for a brief visit with his company Abraham.In.Motion as they prepare for an exciting spring season of new endeavors with some surprising guests. The company will be debuting a new program at The Joyce Theater on May 1, that will include two new pieces from Abraham, restaged works by Doug Varone and Bebe Miller, and a world premiere from Andrea Miller. Talk about an exciting line-up!
We caught up with Abraham during a recent rehearsal where he revealed what he is tired of hearing in the dance community.
Choreographer Tero Saarinen has a proclivity for the peculiar—and for epic orchestral music. That he should be commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to create a new dance work to accompany the U.S. premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Cello Concerto en forme de pas de trois only makes sense. Zimmermann's eerie, difficult-to-classify composition falls squarely in Saarinen's wheelhouse. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Jan. 19–21. laphil.com.
Two competition routines are equal in technical proficiency, artistry and choreography. One consists of all girls, the other includes a boy. Guess which takes home first prize?
If you guessed the one with the boy, you may be privy to an unspoken and much-debated phenomenon in the competition dance world: The Boy Factor. According to The Boy Factor, a competitive piece is more likely to win if there's a boy in it.
"If it's all technically equal and one group is all girls and the other group has a boy, the one with the boy will win," says Rysa Childress, owner of All Star Studios in Forest Hills, New York. "Boy soloists are sometimes scored higher than more technically proficient girls because if a boy has good stage presence, we let him slide," says an anonymous competition judge. "And most of the feedback will be for the boy."
I'll never forget something Roberto Bolle once told me when I was interviewing him about his workout regimen: Talking about how much he loved to swim, he said, "I would love to go in the Italian sea, but I am too well-known there to show up in my suit."
It always amused and kinda shocked me that a ballet dancer could reach that level of fame. But it's true: In his native Italy, Bolle is a bonafide celerity.
Everyone knows that community college is an affordable option if a four-year school isn't in the cards. But it can also be a solid foundation for a career in the dance field. Whether students want an associate in arts degree as a precursor to obtaining a bachelor's, or to go straight into the performing world, the right two-year dance program can be a uniquely supportive place to train. Don't let negative stereotypes prevent you from attending a program that could be right for you: