Article on Flamenco Completo (Marija Temo & Ulrika Frank) & their workshop, Atlanta, GA 9/16-18/11

Posted by admin - September 12th, 2011

Flamenco Completo

A Flamenco Journey Without Taking a Plane By Rebecca Money Johnson

jaleole.com flamenco in atlanta
The Flamenco Completo Workshop in Atlanta begins September 16 with a special first time intro class for students with no experience. Followed by Levels 1 and 2, both taking place on September 17 and 18.
Detailed information:
Classes for returning students
Classes for intro students

As another friend takes off to Spain for a flamenco holiday, your happiness is perhaps tempered with the knowledge that you may not be able to participate in a similar opportunity any time soon. Such a trip could be personally prohibitive for any number of reasons: time, finances, or perhaps feeling you are just not good enough yet. But what if Spain were to come to you? What would you have to lose? And if it arrived at your doorstep, what would it look like?

According to Cristina Bermudez, who has been a part of the Atlanta flamenco community for nearly a decade, it would look a lot like The Flamenco Completo workshop, which is coming to Atlanta in September. And what’s more, she would be the first to say there is everything to gain by Flamenco Completo’s immersion.

Flamenco Completo was incepted in 2007 and born from simultaneous teaching methods that uniquely focused on communication between flamenco dancers, singers and musicians. The Flamenco Completo workshop is the brain child of both instructors, Marija Temoa well-known flamenco singer, classical and flamenco guitarist, and Ulrika Frank, a flamenco dance instructor who teaches, performs and furthers the art of flamenco internationally. Flamenco Completo is a comprehensive teaching method that focuses on the core of flamenco, which is the communication of “letras” (song verses); how the structure varies; and how it is improvised in different ways. The distinction between Flamenco Completo and most other workshops that feature singers, dancers and guitarists, is that said individuals are all taught together in the same class.

Cristina Bermudez has grown tremendously through Flamenco Completo, and is set to begin teaching a beginner flamenco class. But, you do not have to have the goal of teaching or a professional dance career to participate in Flamenco Completo. In fact, Flamenco Completo will best prepare you for any sort of flamenco experience–even as simple and exhilarating as a successfully improvised “patadita” (short dance) at a “juerga” (flamenco party).

Bermudez feels very strongly about the way Flamenco Completo comprehensively prepares students for this spectrum of flamenco goals. First introduced to flamenco by her husband Armando, a flamenco guitarist, who bought her to Martha SidAhmed’s class in 2004, Bermudez says she found, “What I had been searching for over many years. My maternal grandfather was pure gypsy (Romanian) and the cante was very familiar to me. It sounded just like our family gatherings where everybody sang and danced to Romanian gypsy music. The expression of emotion was the same and the musicality and tones were the same. I knew (after my first flamenco class) that I had found my dance home, as well as a whole new way of thinking and viewing life.”

So, when it comes to Flamenco Completo, Bermudez has taken it at every opportunity and claims, “I lost count!” But even as a seasoned veteran, she notes, “I always learn something new and/or different with each workshop, and it’s not just choreography that you learn and spit back out. Anybody can do that. The real deal is when you learn what to use and exactly when to use it to create a statement. Flamenco Completo has given me the tools and the confidence to apply them in a very comfortable, supportive, environment. I didn’t take the very first workshop because I thought I wasn’t at a high enough level, and that was a mistake. It’s for everybody and the amount of clarity you gain in your flamenco education is amazing.”

jaleole.com flamenco in atlanta
Ulrika Frank and Marija Temo teach in Atlanta during a previous Flamenco Completo workshop.

Bermudez adds, “I’ve grown a lot and understand much more about letra/baile structure now, but each Flamenco Completo workshop has given me something new to work on. So, I have built a base knowledge, filled my backpack with flamenco tools, as Ulrika says. But, at the same time, each workshop with them feels like the first because my eyes are opened to something different each time. At the beginning i was more focused on learning the steps, where to come in, what to do. Now I’m integrating my learning of the ‘pasos’ (dance steps) with learning about ‘aire’ (attitude), confidence, style, etc.”

Bermudez feels this has much to do with the fact that, “Ulrika and Marija make an amazing teaching duo. They are both insanely knowledgeable about flamenco structure, yet they give you the opportunity to flex. Flamenco has a structure to it, yet we all know that anything can happen at any time, whether in the cante or baile or toque. And, Flamenco Completo offers the opportunity to navigate that in an informed, non-panicky way. I’ve grown through Flamenco Completo because of the way (they) pose scenarios and ask questions. Usually in a workshop the students ask all the questions, but in Flamenco Completo, questions are asked of the students that make us think about how to react to the cante or aire or any important flamenco component. It helps a great deal to eliminate the ‘Oh…what do I do now?!’ feeling”.

Bermudez extols, “Marija’s incredible knowledge of music and crazy ability to explain things in a way for non-musicians to understand is amazing. She has the cante and toque within her. So, she feels it, but she’s also very analytical and can break down the mechanics. That combination is perfect for learning style because… I’m the type of person that has to know how things work… before I can actually externalize it to my feet or body. And Ulrika, well I have a very special place in my heart for her (like many Atlanta flamencas). Ulrika’s knowledge about how the body moves and how to create space in harmony with musicality and percussion floors me. I’ve taken away so much from the ‘flamenco backpack’ she offers every time she teaches.”

 

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