What should I wear to class?
Adult students may wear what they like to class, as long as their clothing does not constrict movement or distract them in class. All students should come prepared to sweat! Men should wear workout pants and a t-shirt and flamenco boots. Women should wear a comfortable T-shirt or leotard with stretchy dance pants and/or a long, full flamenco skirt with tights or pants underneath, plus flamenco shoes. Female students will need to be able to lift the skirt above the knees so the instructor can see your feet and leg position, or even perform floor stretches, so tights or pants underneath the skirt are recommended. Flamenco practice skirts are often available for purchase in the studio, or may be purchased online or made at home in a wide variety of styles.
Kids should follow the same guidelines as above, but girls are REQUIRED to wear a flamenco practice skirt with tights, dance pants, or shorts underneath, and must wear hair pulled back in a ponytail. T-shirts for girls or boys should not constrict movement. Boys may wear any comfortable pants. Consult instructor for information on children’s shoes. Inexpensive children’s flamenco shoes are available in the studio or by mail order.
What about shoes?
Good flamenco shoes are the flamenco dancer’s most important tool. Your feet and shoes are your instruments, and should be cared for appropriately. First-time flamenco students should wear sneakers or dance character shoes to the first class or two. After that, flamenco shoes should be worn to class (flamenco boots for men). Flamencura is an authorized vendor of Miguelitos Flamenco shoes for children and adults. These shoes are great for beginner and intermediate dancers, and cost from $45 to $65 (plus tax) depending on the model. Flamenco shoes should be leather, with nails in the sole of the toe and heel, and a dance rubber sole. Other high-quality (and more expensive) brands from Spain include Menkes, Gallardos, and ArteFyL, and may be ordered online or by telephone. Good U.S. sources are www.flamencoshoes.com and www.menkes.es.
Note: Character shoes and tap shoes are NOT acceptable permanent substitutes for flamenco shoes. Character shoes are acceptable for a few classes, but you MUST get real flamenco shoes before you will be able to do more advanced footwork. Bad shoes will form bad habits!
Castanets, Fans, and Shawls (Castanuelas, Abanicos, and Mantones)
Flamencura offers dedicated castanet classes during most of the year (currently on Saturdays), as well as periodic beginner-level castanet workshops. All castanet students must bring their own castanets to class. Beginner-level castanets are often available for purchase in the studio, or may be purchased from various online sources. Castanets are NOT required for Flamencura’s regular dance classes.
Fans (abanicos) made of cloth and wood are frequently used as a prop in flamenco dance, and dances with abanico are taught at Flamencura, usually in the Flamenco II level. Students of that level will be required to have their own fan to use in class, and will be advised beforehand. At these times fans ($20 or less) will generally be available for purchase in the studio.
Large square shawls (mantones) made of silk are traditionally used as a clothing accessory in Spain, but have developed a special importance as an element of flamenco dance requiring its own technique. Manton technique and choreography workshops are taught periodically at Flamencura, and students are responsible for buying their own shawls. Adequate shawls should be at least 52 inches square PLUS fringe. They are usually silk and have embroidery which makes them heavier and easier to use. A good source is the Shanghai Tailor store on Ebay, which carries good (i.e. large) shawls for about $120-$150. Alternatively, students may make an inexpensive practice shawl from a large square of polyester fabric–long fringe is also desirable.
Where do I find flamenco music?
Listening to both new and old flamenco music is fundamental to understanding the art form, and will improve your compas (rhythm) and musicality. Some good artists to seek out are singers Camaron de la Isla, Estrella Morente, Arcangel, Potito, Guadiana, Montse Cortes, and Nina Pastori. Guitar-only cds (like Paco de Lucia and Tomatito) are NOT ideal for practicing flamenco dance. Traditional singing (cante) is the most important thing you can listen to. Be aware that most flamenco/pop bands, such as Ojos de Brujo and Ketama, do NOT sing traditional flamenco, although they may include aspects of flamenco music and are lots of fun to listen to. Locally, check the World Music sections of Waterloo Records on Lamar Blvd.. The websites www.flamenco-world.com and www.deflamenco.com sell a huge variety of cds, and you can listen to audio clips before buying. iTunes and Amazon.com can also be good sources for mp3s. Look online for flamenco radio on sites like Pandora and Spotify.