The insurgence of flamenco devotees now covers the world. Its beat and style are hypnotic. Oddly, flamenco courses and studios dot Japan, having turned the dance into a popular pastime. Flamenco's origin, however, is Andalucia, which is located in Spain's Costa del Sol region and where many dancers are descendants of Gypsy families. And it can be learned in Madrid with excellent teachers.
Flamenco Classes in Madrid, Spain
by Judith Glynn. Watch flamenco in tablaos or learn the folkloric dance in Madrid. Amor de Dios is an authentic flamenco dance school located above a Madrid marketplace.
For outsiders, it helps to understand flamenco's three basic elements. The song being sung is the most important. Often the lyrics are composed on stage. The dancers interpret that song, and the music consists mainly of guitarists. The box drum is widely used. The clapping hands of the onstage performers accompany the dancers' feet. The tapping in flamenco music imitates the sounds made in a forge since many Andalucian men worked as blacksmiths.
Flamenco Class in Madrid, Spain
Flamenco Lessons in Madrid
For the truly adventurous traveler or the one who delves into a culture or simply a flamenco devotee wanting to learn the dance first hand, head to Amor de Dios, which is the oldest flamenco school in Spain. It's located on a second floor (no sign outside) and above the Anton Martin marketplace. Thirty to forty teachers, also known as masters are on the roster. Star pupils have included Sara Baras, Antonio Canales and a long list of performers.
Upon entering the school, it's the sounds that overpower. Whether castanets, a cane tapping out the beat, cajon (box) drums being practiced, or the pounding of hundreds of flamenco feet on wooden floors, flamenco reigns. "This is an authentic experience. Nothing's changed in the many years I've come here," said Josephine from Dallas as she wiped sweat from her brow after a class. "I'd come back any time."
Flamenco Class at Amor de Dios
How Long To Take Classes and The Cost
Ideally, students contact the school to arrange lessons, however, walk-ins are not discouraged. A one-hour class costs 12 to 15 euros, although that short experience isn't recommended. Two hours of class per day for five days lowers the price to around 70 euros per week. "You must speak to a master to find your level. If you don't like him or her, you can go to another," said Javier San Juan, the son of the school's owner. "Anyone can come here. If you're a good person, you are welcome," he added with a smile and in halting English.
Obviously, it helps to speak Spanish or know it casually since all classes are given in that language. Clothing is nondescript and usually tights or long pants. "Only the shoes are the instrument," said Javier. Several shops in the area sell flamenco shoes in the 70 to 120 euro range. They are embedded with small nails at the toe and heal to enhance the impact. Most moves in flamenco dancing involve pushing down on the metatarsal. There's no brushing of the foot against the floor.
According to some students, flamenco is much more complicated than it looks. But the instructors are patient, and fellow students move along at their own pace. It's definitely smiles and kisses on both cheeks when a class is over. The ambiance at Amor de Dios (named for the street where it was formerly located) is full-fledged flamenco classes at its best.
Other Flamenco Schools and Venues in Madrid
Another school is Casa Patas Flamenco Conservatory. Its enhanced program combines teaching, research, seminars and the promotion of flamenco, singing, guitar playing and dancing.The ground floor is home to the famous Casa Patas tablao.
At Centro de Ocio El Horno, it's possible to have an hour-long class for around 15 euros. Flamenco and other Spanish dance forms are taught here from beginner to advanced students.
Any day of the week, a flamenco show can be found in Madrid theatres or more intimate flamenco song and dance clubs known as tablaos.The performances are often accompanied with food and usually begin at 10:30 pm. Contact Madrid's official tourism website for venues
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If You Go
Spain is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. The official Madrid Tourist Office is an excellent first stop and located in the city's Plaza Mayor area. You can purchase the MadridCard there and also at hotels, travel agencies, museums, national and online.
Many airlines serve Spain, with stops in Madrid and Barcelona. They also offer excellent tourist packages.