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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.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.