Spain’s Jerez Festival is among the most influential flamenco events in the world. This year 1,010 dancers from 38 countries traveled to Jerez de la Frontera to study with renowned flamenco artists, including Antonio El Pipa, Alicia Márquez, Manolete and Manuel Betanzos.

 

The festival’s objective: to provide students with an atmosphere in which flamenco penetrates every aspect of their everyday life. By day, students work directly with professional dancers who have spent a lifetime onstage; by night, they attend performances at Jerez’s historic Villamarta Theatre.

 

Flamenco is a complex artform made up of over 40 different palos, music forms classified by rhythm, mode and origin (fandango, bulería, tango and seguiriya are examples of palo categories). There are specific stylistic and rhythmic markers that go along with each palo, and classes at the festival teach techniques specific to these, as well as use of accessories (castanets, fans, trained dresses) that go with each palo.

 

Some of the most sought-after classes are those led by the festival’s “godmother” Matilde Coral, who trained current flamenco stars María Pagés, Rafaela Carrasco and Isabel Bayón. Although immensely influential, Coral is less imposing than one would imagine. She is very calm and patient with her students, coaxing them gently through the manipulation of their dress trains and footwork in the Alegrías de Cádiz. At 75, her movement is limited, but when she does dance, it’s to highlight the movement’s elegance and style.

 

The young dancer and winner of the Jerez Festival’s 2009 Newcomer Award, Concha Jareño, returned to the festival this year to teach castanets set to the bulería. Like Coral, she is infinitely patient, but she relates to her students in a friendlier, more informal manner. Jareño admits that teaching at the festival is challenging because student levels are self-assessed, making uniformity in progression impossible. “First I teach them the steps, then we add the castanets on their own, and then we put it all together, which is not easy, and we repeat and repeat and repeat,” she says. “I don’t dedicate much time to the castanet exercises, but I explain them and we do them so that later they can work on them at home.”

 

Belén Maya, daughter of flamenco legend Mario Maya, has a similar take as Jareño. When teaching how to use the trained dress in a seguiriya choreography, Maya knows that some students will fall behind but says, “They still get a lot out of the class, because even if they can’t follow the choreography, they can continue to practice the technique on their own. That technique can be repeated and repeated like a warm-up or basic exercise.”

 

Founded by The Centro Andaluz de Flamenco and the Villamarta Theatre Foundation, the festival celebrated its 14th anniversary this year and always runs over 16 days from late February to mid-March. At press time, the 2011 dates have not yet been confirmed. For more, see www.festival
dejerez.es. DT

 

 

Justine Bayod Espoz is an arts and culture photojournalist based in Madrid, Spain. She regularly writes for dance publications in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Spain.

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Mitchell Button, courtesy of the artist

Dusty Button prefers music with a range. "There needs to be a beginning, a climax and a strong ending. Like a movie," she says. The award-winning dancer, who joined American Ballet Theatre's second company, ABT II, at 18, has always been drawn to lyric-free tracks filled with dynamic phrasing, rhythms and composition. "Whether it's the violin, piano or cello, instrumental music gives me more inspiration. I want the dancers and the audience to feel something new," she adds.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Courtesy Just for Kix

As a teacher or studio owner, customer service is a major part of the job. It's easy to dread the difficult sides of it, like being questioned or criticized by an unhappy parent. "In the early years, parent issues could have been the one thing that got me to give up teaching," says Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a teacher and studio owner with over 43 years of experience. "Hang in there—it does get easier."

We asked Clough her top tips for dealing with difficult parents:

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network

When the news broke that Prince George, currently third in line for the British throne, would be continuing ballet classes as part of his school curriculum this year, we were as excited as anyone. (OK, maybe more excited.)

This was not, it seems, a sentiment shared by "Good Morning America" host Lara Spencer.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dean College
Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

After six years of this approach, here are the benefits they've seen:

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Photo via Claudia Dean World on YouTube

Most parents start off pretty clueless when it comes to doing their dancer's hair. If you don't want your students coming in with elastic-wrapped bird's nests on their heads, you may want to give them some guidance. But who has time to teach each individual parent how to do their child's hair? Not you! So, we have a solution: YouTube hair tutorials.

These three classical hairdo vids are exactly what your dancers need to look fabulous and ready to work every time they step in your studio.

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Via @madisongoodman_ on Instagram

Nationals season is behind us, but we just aren't quite over it yet. We've been thinking a lot about the freakishly talented winners of these competitions, and want to know a bit more about the people who got them to where they are. So, we asked three current national title holders to tell us the most powerful piece of advice their dance teacher ever gave them. What they have to say will melt your heart.

Way to go, dance teachers! Your'e doing amazing things for the rising generation!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Enrollment is an issue that plagues brand-new and veteran studio owners alike. Without a steady stream of revenue from new students coming through your doors, your studio won't survive—no matter how crisp your dancers' technique is or how well-produced your recitals are.

Enrollment—in biz speak, customer acquisition and retention—depends on your business' investment in marketing. How effectively you get the word out about your studio will directly influence the number of people who register. Successful businesses typically use certain tried-and-true marketing strategies to recruit and retain clients or customers. These four studio owners' tricks for kicking enrollment into high gear are modeled after classic marketing techniques.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox