Friday, 20 September 2013


Day 2 of my training and I was buzzing from yesterday's first session but obviously wasn't prepared for just how demanding today would be.

Before I went to the dance studio, I tried to just take some time out to get into the present. I'd read somewhere that its impossible to do really good filming of Flamenco because it requires being so present and not having to re-take shots all of the time.

So I tried to just get a little space in amidst the hustle and bustle of this very busy city, just resting and focussing upon that moment.

If I'm honest, nothing could have quite prepared me for today's very intense session.

After a warm up, we went over the first and second positions (similar to ballet) and then the twisting hand movements which, although there was some progress on yesterday's attempt, I find quite difficult.

Then we went over a co-ordinated tango moves again, right foot step forward co-ordinating with right arm movement (in third position) and same for the left. Except this time faster and also alternating with a second position movement.

Its important to get the second position right in terms of the way the arms are out in front, facing half way down, very wide apart with elbows higher than the hands and the way the shoulders drop should be relaxed, but you need to be standing tall, though not tense.

Again, this is how Carmen Amaya would dance, arms very wide apart. The shape of it makes me think of a bull-fighter!

Again, I was seeing how difficult it is to co-ordinate all of these movements, holding the arm positions whilst twisting the hands etc, and then adding in the feet movements, but any progress is good. Its just remembering everything together.

In terms of language, I think Toni and I are doing well to be understood despite his poor English and my poor Spanish. But there doesn't seem to be a problem - its more my co-ordination! I seem to know that I'm making the mistakes with the moves but not being able to do the right thing at the right time.

I'm also trying to do the moves too quick, so need to have more patience. Like being present and in the moment.

Next came some pretty serious stamping, to which there is a very fine technique.

We went over 3 different types of stamping, golpe (stamping the floor with the entire bottom of the foot), planta (stamping the floor with the ball of the foot) and tacon, (stamping the floor with the heel).

Toni recommended that the stamping be done with force so that there is the security of balance. I found it quite hard to take everything in at this stage as I was flagging slightly but from what I gather, the stamping is controlled from the abdomen, thinking as though this is pulling down to the floor for balance and to create a connection between the floor and the sky, which is why its important to work form the core of the body and stay centred.

It reminded me of the techniques in pilates where we imagine its like there's a plumb line going down the centre of your body helping you maintain a straight, centred posture.

We did many stamping exercises in a routine of right 8, left 8, right 4, left 4, right 2, left 2, right 2, left 2 and then starting back at 8 so physically it was quite demanding with Toni pushing for me to put more power into the stamp to maintain this security.

Its easier than you think to go wrong on the stamps as they have to come from raising the lower leg behind from the knee, not lifting the whole leg up in front, as I was doing from time to time. It was also hard not to feel unbalanced, hence the need for more power in the golpe stamp.

It felt great doing this though. Very masterful and powerful and in control, though not tense. Just an assertive, confidence in the stamp, making me fell very 'big' and open. Would this be where we get the phrase 'putting my foot down'? Who knows, but it would be appropriate because its done with conviction, not in a weak way, its about strength.

In the same way, the planta and tacon had their own technique. The tacon in particular was an interesting one because its the stamping of the heel only, so again the power has to come from the abdomen to really stamp hard on the floor.

It will take some practice but I think Toni was pleased with my initial technique, saying that if I learnt this technique now and keep practicing it, it will be easier for when we come to learn the choreography, to which I laughed, and as I continued to stamp, thought to myself, what have I let myself in for here? Will I really be able to do the Fandango I wanted to do?

Next lesson is now Monday 12.30 - 13.30 so lots of practice on my own between now and then is essential if I want to achieve what I set out to do.

Please bear with me on the video documentation - there are a few technical issues that need sorting.

Besos x

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