¿Hablas español?

A collection of thoughts, findings and experiences throughout my time in Valencia studying Dance.

Adios Valencia

Tomorrow morning I fly home from Valencia. I am full of mixed emotions as my whole experience finally comes to an end. Part of me is excited to move back to Falmouth, complete my degree and move on to new adventures and part of me has enjoyed this experience so much I don’t want to leave. I feel as though I have learnt more about myself in the last 4 months than I have in my time at university so far. I have learnt that with dance training there comes a tough mental pressure which can be hard to work with at times. Like in my Ballet classes when I have beaten myself up about not being able to do the splits or better arabesques. Or in Contemporary when I can’t master a phrase as well as I would like. But this added pressure has helped me to see how I should deal with it better mentally and I feel I have become a lot stronger.

From the feedback I have been given about ways I could improve myself as a dancers and performer, I have found an even bigger sense of determination to improve and become better. I have been taught ways in which I can do this including imagery and keeping this energy ball within my centre (as taught by Marta in Flamenco). I have realised that my physical strength is improving and although slow and steady, my flexibility is improving too. I feel a new sense of confidence now and faith in myself, that with hard work and determination, I can get there.

I have met amazing teachers and pupils a like who have only ever made me feel welcome and they will forever have a special place in my heart. I have lived a dream that I have imagined since I was young and I hope to be able to come back to Spain to live this experience some more in the future. I will be sad to leave but I will be back, I am sure of it.

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Leaving school on our last sunny day and a final visit to the beach.

Me encanta Flamenco!

This week I have had my last two days at school. Tomorrow is a public holiday so I will pack and be ready to fly home Thursday morning. Yesterday I had my last Ballet class which was an exam for the students. We went through all the class exercises one after the other and this made me realise the extent of my improvements that I have made during my time here. I remembered the exercises a lot better and managed to incorporate my arms into most of the exercises which is something I never imagined I would do by the time of leaving! I really enjoyed Ballet and will miss it greatly as I feel I have benefitted from such a small class and a patient and helpful teacher. My confidence in the technique has grown and I no longer feel like I am not capable of improving and furthering my Ballet technique and I am excited to continue training back home.

Last night I also went to Flamenco on my own because I will miss Wednesdays class due to Public holiday. The whole class was in Spanish which I enjoyed because it was like a taster of what it may be like if I come back out here on my own to train further. I followed most of the lesson and felt open to asking questions in Spanish.

This morning I had my last Flamenco class with Marta. I felt very sad as I have enjoyed her classes so much but I will never forget this initial Flamenco training and will remember the valuable lessons I have learnt here for the rest of my life, not only in future Flamenco training but in other styles too. Today I also felt the performance element of Flamenco and how emotion can come out in your performance. I felt a real love for the technique and realised how through performing you can feel the passion and get your own emotions out through the performance of the Flamenco movement.

Finally I had my last contemporary technique class with Toni. When saying goodbye he said ‘I like to see people dance my movement not just do it. For me it is Dance and you do this’. I really understood what he meant by this quote as it can be easy to just do the steps in the warm up phrases when you should always be thinking about the dance and performance element, which I have learnt to do a lot more of here.

La última cena

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I have spent this weekend making sure I make the most of my last few days here. Yesterday we went to the Spa near our flat and spent an hour in the Roman baths and sauna. Today we went for dinner with the friends we have met during our time here. We went for crepes and it was lovely to be able to have one more big get-together before we leave next week. I really hope to be able to return to Valencia in the not to distant future and maybe even visit some of my friends in their hometowns, in other destinations around Europe. Luckily, through the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter we can all keep in contact very easily!

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  Today I had my last contemporary class with Idoya. We started with an improvisation, feeling the movement of our pelvis and the range we have within our hips. Then we worked on the phrases from the last few classes, paying close attention to the use of breath and the openness of our sternum. At […]

Estoy muy feliz

This week I feel as though I have made significant progress in terms of my understanding of how I can improve. After speaking to Toni my contemporary teacher before Christmas, we discussed improvements and things I could work on. One thing that we discussed was concentrating on the use of my legs as they are under extended at the knees. This is something that I have been aware of and have decided to focus particularly on my core strength; like we practised with Marta in the energy ball exercise (Mas Flamenco January 8th 2014). This has therefore been helping me to have more control and focus over my legs and I have been a lot more concentrated on straightening and stretching my legs and pushing through the floor. In last nights Flamenco class we worked on Alegria and we finished the piece to music. I was concentrating more on my performance as Marta has discussed this a lot and she praised me on this which felt very encouraging.

In lesson today we went over class phrases with Toni concentrating on pushing through the floor and flow of energy in order to remain strong and fluid. We also worked on this idea of using the music to create variety and interest even in the warm up technical phrases. I was pleased when Toni came up and mentioned that I was working very well in class lately as this is something that I have been making a very conscious effort with. After the feedback he gave me I wanted to be able to work on the improvements and for it to be noticed in class in order to show I had taken his comments on board – so this made me feel very positive!

Flamenco y Pilates

This morning I had Flamenco class in which we worked on the Alegria and Silencio phrase to start with. Marta spoke about the use of performance skills and your facial expression to show your true feelings to the audience. I know that this is something that I need to work on as a performer, to not be afraid of showing my emotion as a dancer and to worry less about what other people think of me.

We then learnt a new Tango phrase which is about fun, party and joking. It is a serious dance which, with respect, has fun with the audience members. It is always in counts of 4 but this can be varied with speed and rhythm depending on the choreography. We filmed the Silencio and Alegria and will film the Tango and Letras tomorrow night.

This evening I also went to try out a Pilates class at the gym we pass on the way home from University. It was really difficult as the teacher didn’t demonstrate much and she spoke all in Spanish, with no knowledge of English. I enjoyed the challenge as it made me think really hard about what she was saying and I picked up what she was saying better than I expected. We worked on basic core work and strength and there is another class Thursday which we will attend as I enjoyed the challenge and managed to follow the class well. I like the challenge of a completely Spanish speaking class and I am finding teachers at school speak less English now as we have been here a while and are learning a lot of class and dance terminology.

Ballet es mejor

Today I had 2 contemporary classes and Ballet in between. Usually we have two other students from the school in class but today two classes merged and it was very busy. It was the class that I trialed my first Ballet class here with. It reminded me a little of the nerves and lack of confidence I had in my first ever class, but then I realised as the lesson went on how much I have improved. I kept up with the class better, which was faster paced than normal and I felt comfortable and at ease. It was nice to challenge myself again in the class that first time round panicked me and left me feeling very disappointed. Now I know I can do the class and have a little more confidence in my ballet ability.

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My friend Jess came to visit on Thursday and left this afternoon. She experienced a night out in Spain, we visited the cathedral and climbed to the top, went to the beach, the park and the main town for shopping. It was nice to show her around Valencia, especially after finishing my documentation on Thursday […]

Mas flamenco

Yesterday and today I had my two Flamenco classes of the week. In Tuesdays class we were the only ones in the class so we worked on individual feedback from Marta and she gave a personalised class to help us embody the style of Flamenco. She spoke about Alma, the soul in Spanish, and how we need to work with our energy inside our body whilst keeping it centred and strong. We worked on a task set by Marta;
We imagined we had a ball of energy placed by our belly button and it was our favourite colour. On every inhale we would breathe in more of this favourite colour, filling our body, and exhale to get rid of any bad energy and bad colours. This energy ball then split in half to contain water which we had to keep contained within the 2 halves. This meant keeping movement controlled and exact rather than throwing movement away and not making a conscious effort to hold your centre. This not only made me feel stronger but my posture improved as I stood up straighter, felt less hunched and more open at the sternum.  Another thing Marta said, which helped me, was to always be aware of where this energy is. If the energy is in your sternum or chest, which I tend to think about a lot, you often move your arms more and have more control over the upper than the lower body. If you move this energy lower to the tummy you have more control over all of your limbs. I have been trying to keep this imagery and inner feeling in other lessons and Toni has noticed an improvement in the use of my legs in his contemporary classes already.

On Wednesday we worked on the Alegria and Silencio, continuing to feel this energy ball and control that Flamenco should have. I felt a definite change in my posture and strength as a Flamenco dancer and will continue to work on this imagery.