José and I would like to invite you to read our latest #MyFlamencoStory interview with Ella from Vancouver.
Ella thank you so much for sharing you story with us and for sharing some gorgeous photos!
What is your first memory of flamenco?
The first time I experienced flamenco was in a little Spanish café called Kino, in Vancouver BC, where I live. A family friend of ours invited us, me and my family to this Spanish café, and on that occasion I was deeply captivated and inspired by the flamenco dancers performing that night. I felt so connected to the passion and fierceness expressed in flamenco that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was so moved that right after that night started searching for classes In the city. I was somewhat new to Vancouver, it was only 2 years after my settlement. But now thinking, I am so proud of my decision and also appreciative of our friend's thoughtfulness to take us to this Spanish Café instead of just another ordinary dining experience in a restaurant.
Where did you move to Vancouver from?
I moved to Vancouver from Tehran, Iran. My undrestanding of Persian music plays a big role in connecting with Flamenco, because of the many similarities between the two.
Where and when did you start taking classes?
I started taking Classes with Spanish Passion Dance Co, under supervision of Eleanora Acuna. Eleanora has a particular approach to flamenco, she had a very high emphasis on the technical aspect of Spanish and flamenco dance. She had extensive training in escuela de bolera and prefered the modern look of flamenco, more than flamenco puro. I am grateful of lessons she taught me about the aesthetics of flamenco baile, even though later I realized I am more in seek of flamenco puro. So, I started taking classes with Mozaico Flamenco Academy after 6 years of studying with Eleanora and right before I travelled to Spain.
Have you travelled to extend your studies?
I was always in love with the idea of living in Spain. I was literally infatuated with Flamenco from day one and the whole time I was carrying the dream of moving to Spain to learn more and experience the flamenco way of living. I eventually moved to Spain, however, instead of just taking flamenco lessons, I decided to get my Masters in Corporate Communication in a reputed business school in Madrid called IE Business School. The intensity of my master’s program didn’t fully allow me to study flamenco full time during my stay. However, I would sneak into Amor de Dios every time I had a chance. Eventually, I moved backed to Vancouver once I finished my graduate studies, and now I am continuing my studies with Al Mozaico dance Academy.
What do you think is the biggest difference between studying flamenco in Spain to studying in Canada?
I think the biggest difference between studying in Spain and in Canada is the level of frequency you interact with flamenco. In Spain, specially in certain Andalusian cities (e.g. Sevilla, Jerez, Cadiz...) you see and hear flamenco in many occasions and that tunes you into the culture, music and dance. Also, the dance instructors naturally have more insight as many come from flamenco families.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge for learning flamenco has been in understanding each element of the flamenco ensemble and really grasping the interconnectedness between the cante, toque, baile, palmas and cajon. I understand that Flamenco is not an open source, since it’s a folklore and hence there are not many academic or written lessons for flamenco. It is an open book, it requires aficionados to search for themselves and learn through practice and research. However, I appreciate teachers who would help students learn their part as a bailaora/bailaor in a flamenco ensemble from the very beginning.
Has studying flamenco dance changed your life in any way?
Oh yeah! Incredibly and magically! Flamenco is an addiction in my opinion. It feeds your soul and once you connect with it, life becomes tasteless without it. Flamenco is spiritual because it helps you connect with the real you and help you be in the present. It’s a strong way of self-expression. It makes me unique as a person and breaks all my inhibitions and lets me be a real human being. In one sentence, flamenco makes me feel authentic, hot and sensual. I’ve became stronger and more confident since I entered the world of flamenco.
What is the next step in your flamenco dance study?
To be a professional soloist. To learn all parts of flamenco ensemble, especially cante flamenco. To amuse myself and others on stage and inspire my audience
Do you have any advice that you would share with another dancer?
My advice would be in learning flamenco, first get accustomed with compás. A dancer must feel the compás without counting and that requires lots and lots of listening. Learn cante is my second advice. We will learn how to coordinate our dance with cante only if we know the letras, knowing the verses and could predict where remates will fit; if you understand the cante it will save lots of time and confusion. And third advice is to travel to Spain, try to take classes there since the learning curve becomes faster for people who experience flamenco there. And last, travel to Sevilla and visit museo del baile flamenco, and get mesmerized by watching the performances that happen each afternoon there in a magical space they have designed inside the museo. Best of luck to all the flamenco aficionados and musicians.
We hope you enjoyed reading Ella's story, we sure did!
If you would like to share your story we'd love to hear from you. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Ella and thanks to you for reading!
Renae & José