April Mom's Night Out - Flamenco, Drinks & Ramen

All dressed and ready to watch Flamenco

I love having my moms’ night out every once a while when I get a chance, especially for me being a stay at home mom and working from home can be isolating at times, although I much prefer being in my own head space, doing my own thing rather than dealing with office politics. I am the worst at playing politics, being an idealist and an artist at heart.

Kathy and I would try going out once a month and for April we had a good friend who is a Flamenco dancer and has been practicing her art for about fifteen years, she had a show with few other Flamenco dancers in Capitol Hill, Erickson Theater. We both enjoyed watching the performance tremendously, it was about 45 minutes and I think was just the right amount of time. The music, singing and Flamenco performance were breathtaking. It really did make me feel like getting up and move along with the dancers. Some culture is always good for the soul!

We started off at St. John's Bar and Eatery for one drink, to the show then to Ooink and back to the same bar for a night cap.

(St. John's Bar and Eatery - Erickson Theater - Ooink)

Ooink, Capitol Hill - https://www.ooinkramen.com/

St. John's Bar and Eatery - http://www.saintjohnsseattle.com/

Erickson Theater - https://theatres.seattlecentral.edu/erickson-theatre

Don't forget to check out their website for events and current shows.

Interview with - Kethrin Johnson

GCM - When did you first start dancing Flamenco and why did you choose Flamenco amongst others? 

Kethrin -  I started flamenco 15 years ago when I moved to Minneapolis from Mexico. The cultural shock was profound, coming from a place with rich dance and music traditions. So when I randomly found flamenco dancing lessons locally, I signed up for class once a week to fill that "cultural vacuum" I felt, and never looked back. I fell in love with the art immediately, plus the community was really fun and supportive.

GCM - What's the name of the Studio you dance with and what made you choose your current studio? 

Kethrin -  I dance at a local school called Flamenco Seattle (http://www.flamencoseattle.com/). The lessons are held at Vam Dance Studios, located in Fremont. I picked this school because I saw our instructor, Encarna, at a performance while I was living in Portland a few years ago, and I really liked her style. Plus the studio is close to my house, so that makes it easier for me to stay disciplined and focused with my practice.  

GCM - What is the origin of Flamenco and how does one become a Flamenco dancer? 

Kethrin - Well, flamenco is an art form born in Southern Spain around the XVII century that continues to evolve to this day. Its earliest influences come from the Roma (gypsy) people whom, starting in the XV century, traveled from Northern India throughout the Middle East, Eastern, and Western Europe as nomads, until they were forced to settle in the south of the Iberian peninsula a couple of centuries later.

Once in Andalucía, the art form was created, enriching itself from Sephardic Jewish singing traditions, as well as Arab/Moorish music and dance, since gypsies and the latter groups lived under oppression at the time. So flamenco was originally born out of despair.

Later on, it picked more musical influences from Spain's colonies in the Americas, from places such as Cuba and Colombia, and much more recently a Peruvian instrument (cajón) was added. I think this is why flamenco speaks so deeply to most human souls and as a result was declared by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Treasure in 2010. Although the dancing is flashy and the guitar is complex, the real essence of Flamenco is the "cante" (singing). A flamenco dancer is really more of a musician, since you have to play percussion with your feet, and your body movements complement the music played by the whole ensemble. Internalizing the "compás" (rhythm patterns) is key to being a good flamenco dancer.

GCM - What's your advice or tips for anyone out there who is interested in trying out Flamenco? 

Kethrin- My advice to anyone starting out is that you need to be very patient with yourself, because if you didn't grow up in Andalucía, chances are that it will take a while to become familiar with the rhythm patterns and dance forms. You need to be very disciplined, work hard on technique (body, arms, footwork), watch videos, attend performances, and listen to a lot of old and new flamenco music and singing. It's kind of all or nothing! But once you achieve certain level, it's deeply satisfying to be able to use it as an art expression. Never give up, even the most beautiful bailaoras (flamenco dancers) at some point looked goofy, we were all there!

If you are in Seattle and would love to try out Flamenco, click on the link below for class details and more information on the studio.

Flamenco Seattle - http://www.flamencoseattle.com/

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