7 Apr 2011

F is for Flamenco.

My love for flamenco started when I was 19. At the time, I was an exchange student in a tiny town in the the South of ... Germany. (I bet you expected 'Spain' there.)

I'd always loved dancing, so when I saw a poster announcing flamenco lessons, I didn't hesitate and joined.

My first teacher was a German girl, Suzanne, who'd been an exchange student herself in Seville, Spain. She taught us - 10 girls and 3 guys - Sevillanas, a flamenco-style folk dance that is often danced at fiestas and ferias.

We had so much fun with our little group. After a few months, we started performing on the streets and at Spanish-themed parties. We were awful, but our enthusiasm more than made up for our lack of skill.

Back in Belgium, I continued taking classes until, after a few years, I got back problems. So I stopped and took up belly dancing instead, which was fun, but it didn't call to my soul like flamenco had.

I returned to flamenco several times, taking classes with different teachers, but the pain just got worse. I guess I will have to accept that - unless a miracle happens - I will never be a flamenco dancer (again).

And yes, every time I watch a show, my heart rejoices and bleeds. Of course that doesn't stop me from going.

For the letter 'F', and to celebrate what might have been, I wanted to share this clip with you, in which one of my favourite dancers, Eva 'la Yerbabuena', dances beautiful fandangos granaĆ­nos. Enjoy!

(Music & dance start at 00:50.)

Did you ever give up an activity you really loved?

Photo 'Eva la Yerbabuena' by Alexander Nitzsche available under a creative commons license. © 2007, Alexander Nitzsche.
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  1. Wow, I did not expect Flamenco!

    What fun. But how sad that you cannot do something you love. I too have a bad back, but so far it hasn't stopped me from doing anything I really love to do. Muchas gracias for the video. She's amazing.

  2. Well I certainly admire her ability to control that dress.
    Have I ever given up something I enjoy...yes...I gave up painting when my mother got cancer and have only recently begun to express myself in that way again. Baby steps.

  3. It fortunately hasn't stopped me from doing anything else.

    Apparently it's that particular combination of high heels, frantic tapping and overarching my back that does it. But if you leave either of them out, it's just not flamenco any more.

  4. @mybabyjohn: I'm sorry to hear that. But good you're doing it again!

  5. The activity I gave up that I really loved was hiking. When I got married, my husband hated to walk (he still does) and we wanted to do everything together so I stopped hiking. He loved dancing and I didn't so he gave up dancing!

  6. I had to give up capoeira, that wonderful Brazilian martial/arts dance. Did it for 3 years and did my first back flip at 40- and then pulled my soas muscle and spent two more years in physical therapy!
    It's a sport for the under-30 group, but I learned to do drumming and play berimbau which I can still do at gatherings.

  7. Wow! That deserves some thought. I am a woman of many enthusiasms - and I have a lousy back so I'm sad that one dream has now been put to death! Ah well, there's always the accordion. I gave up theatre for awhile when my kids were little but I realized that was a bad move so I went back into it.
    Jan Morrison - how nice to find you through this A to Zed challenge...

  8. yup. I used to dance tango, and loved it. I ended up with some men giving me trust issues / taking out their anger issues on me whilst dancing. It completely wrecked my enjoyment. I would go to different classes, but it is such a tight knit community, tango, that everyone knows everyone. I feel for you!

  9. Wow, after seeing that video I can understand how it would give you back problems! I wouldn't have lasted five seconds before I'd be tripping over the dress. :-)

  10. I have always loved this dance, so beautiful! I would love to learn one day. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to reading more from you.

  11. I've given up, oh, almost all the activities I love when I became ill with a chronic illness. Including belly dancing! But, I've discovered some new activities that fit into my new life, including writing. It's a worthy trade-off. :)

  12. @Karen: sounds like a fair trade-off :-)

    @Toby: ouch! I've never done capoeira but secretly always wanted to. Sounds like I'd better not start now :-)

    @Jan: great to meet you too! I loved your 'F'!

    @Laura: tango's amazing. I can see what you mean with the anger issues, though.

    @C R: yes, pretty amazing, isn't it :-)

    @Sylvia: thanks for stopping by. :-) I love your posts on writing. Very useful!

    @Shelli: wow. That's quite a way to discover writing!

  13. Due to chronic illness, I have had to give up a lot of activities that I have enjoyed. Just gotta keep going and find other passions. Thanks for the post.

  14. K.C. - you are my 200th follower. I'm going to send you a present - I will go through your blog, top to bottom, and then I will email you a jpg of a photo that I think you will like! You can print it or use it somewhere or do what you will with it! Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for being a Woolf showing up at this juncture!
    Jan Morrison

  15. @Keena: You're very welcome!

    @Jan: Wonderful, thank you so much! :-)

  16. What an interesting thing to find out about you! I'm so sorry you can't continue with it.

  17. When I lived in Hungary there was a belly dancer who went to Andalucia ti study dance. She cam back to Hungary with a wonderful Flamenco-influenced belly dance!

  18. @Suzanne: me too, but on the good side: it leaves me more time to write :-)

    @alison: I love the blend of belly dancing and flamenco. One of my first teachers lived in Spain for a while, where she met a male belly dancer who taught her belly dancing, and she used to mix both in her shows. The downside was that every once and a while, someone tried to slip a banknote into her belt, which was a bit unsettling for someone who's a flamenco dancer at heart. =)


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