This photo was taken at a performance at UCLA my first year of dancing flamenco.
Have you ever tried to learn something new, completely from scratch with absolutely no understanding of it other than when you saw it you felt your heart jump and before you knew it, you were in love?
This is exactly what happened to me the first time I saw Flamenco. Granted I had been a dancer before, but absolutely nothing like this! I was 19, a freshman at UCLA, wet behind the ears and an English Major ( I later majored in Chicana/o Studies and History). I was taking dance classes for fun and met my first flamenco dance teacher, Liliana De Leon. After my tap dance class, I saw her rehearsing and it kind of sounded like tap dancing but looked completely different. I approached her and asked what kind of dancing that was, she recognized me from tap class (I was the only one with white tap shoes) and invited me to one of her performances later that week. The next time I saw her it was on stage in a beautiful red dress performing a “Garrotin”, one of her signature dances I later found out.
Completely ignorant of what I was witnessing, I fell in love with FLAMENCO (It’s true what they say, love is blind). I felt everything you would feel for a lover…butterflies, shy, anticipation, excitement, curiosity, passion, devotion. Well needless to say it was more than a fling for me, from that day on I have always loved flamenco and I haven’t stopped loving it, not even for one day. As I remember all of this, I feel so very blessed to have had this experience and for all the magic it has uncovered in my life.
Now as a teacher, I’m on the other side of this story and have had the opportunity and privilege to inspire this love in others for the first time. The most beautiful thing is to see a room full of individuals expressing themselves creatively. I have the very special job of inspiring and co-creating flamenco dancers. I nurture and awaken in them the curiosity and love for the art…what my first teacher nurtured in me over 20 years ago. Many of my students have jumped into the fire and become professionals, surrendering to their passion for Flamenco and becoming the FIRE.