Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I take flamenco classes at IES. We dance on Mondays and Wednesdays, and learn about flamenco’s history and development as an art form on Thursdays. I love the class, but I have to say: I’m a terrible flamenco dancer. More than the ability to dance, it’s the spirit needed to be a flamenco dancer that I lack.
Confident. Unapologetic. Bold. Proud. Powerful. For me these are the qualities that epitomize the flamenco dancer. The flamenco dancer loves to be watched– she draws energy and intensity from her audience. She is untouchable and yet vulnerable as she dances– she speaks her suffering (and flamenco’s heritage of suffering, the suffering of generations of marginalized people) with her whole body and expression.
As I’ve said, this sort of attitude and stage presence doesn’t come easily to me. Or to many of the other students in my class for that matter. Our wonderful flamenco teacher, who’s encountered this before, tells us that it’s natural the “aqui estoy” (here I am) attitude feels strange to us. So she tells us to invent a character, one that would have that attitude, and be that character when we dance. She tells us that in this way, first through acting, we can uncover the flamenco dancer within us.
It strikes me: isn’t this what we’re all after here in Spain anyways? Aren’t we pretending to be Spaniards? Trying (to a certain degree) to be Spanish? Hoping that with a bit of acting and awkwardness at first, we eventually find bits of ourselves we didn’t know existed.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Haley Stewart was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and is currently a Comparative Literature Major at Williams College in Massachusetts. She was lucky enough to be in a Spanish Immersion program from preschool thru high school, an experience which left her a fluent Spanish-speaker, a lover of Latin-American literature and an avid traveler. She's used her Spanish in many ways since, from teaching computer classes in Oaxaca, Mexico, to volunteering at an organization for low-paid farm workers in Oregon, to her classes on Spanish literature and history at Williams. Haley's most recent travel experience, a month and a half long trip to England on a travel fellowship from Williams, hiking alone through the beautiful Lake District in the footsteps of the Romantic poet Wordsworth, has left her even more excited to explore Granada. A lover of Federico Garcia Lorca for many years, Haley looks forward to not only walking, but living, in a city full of such poetry, music and magic.</span></p>