Taking a flamenco workshop from Maria Jesús Garcia and Charo Pedraja, members of the Sara Baras company, was a privilege, indeed. Learning Alegria choreography and techniques from these two talented dancers was a fitting introduction to Sara Baras’s style. The choreography was a breath of fresh air, blending traditional Alegria steps with contemporary techniques – sharp turns, stretched arms and stylish hand flicks, and a Llamada (“call”) turn.
The class catered to a mixed level of students, and everyone had an opportunity to ask questions about certain steps. Patience is a virtue when it comes to teaching flamenco, and Maria and Charo demonstrated this brilliantly. The 1.5 hours went too quickly, though. I asked Maria Jesús what the secret is to becoming a better flamenco dancer. Her advice: “In order to improve you have to practise, of course. But the main thing is to be a keen aficionado – listen, watch, and above all feel flamenco. Because without feeling, flamenco is nothing. The technique will come with a lot of work, but it’s important to feel it.”