Rhythmic beats, graceful and foot-tapping dance moves – flamenco, a harmony of music and dance from the Spanish region of Andalusia, is known as an energetic, ecstatic expression of the soul.
Flamenco classes, conducted by the Spanish Cultural Center on Sundays and Mondays, have been attracting learners from Iran, Venezuela, Indonesia and Oman. Arabic influences have been incorporated into its music and rhythm, contributing to an increased interest among other nationalities.
In an interview with Muscat Daily, Santiago Escamilla Fraile, manager of the Spanish Cultural Center, said, “When we began operating the centre in Qurm, I came upon the idea of organising flamenco classes which would not be restricted to Spanish language alone and would also be of interest to the expatriates here.”
“With the support of the Spanish Embassy in Muscat, we have been able to bring different aspects of Spanish culture under one roof. The good news is that people are responsive and have shown great interest, especially since our first flamenco dance workshop on October 10.
"It managed to create a spellbinding effect on the minds of the participants and they wanted to master the art. So now we are running to a packed house, with dance aficionados learning to tap their feet and perfect the art form's elegance,” Fraile said.
Karen Ojeda, flamenco instructor at the Spanish Cultural Center, said, “Flamenco conveys expressions of the heart. In flamenco, the way you feel is the way you dance.
“A straight, elegant posture and tight wrists, which can be achieved by practice, are important for the dance. There are different types of flamenco that are popular. Sevillana is performed on folk music sung and written in Seville, Andalusia.
"Soleares is one of the most basic forms of flamenco music. It is thought to have originated in Cadiz or Seville. I am teaching my students basic footwork and the rhythms of Rumba. This dance is accompanied with prominent hip and shoulder movements along with footwork.”
Karen said she was overwhelmed with the level of interest shown by different communities in Oman. “The Latin community performs flamenco with ease, but I have been surprised by the growing interest in the dance among other nationalities here.”
She believes the popularity of flamenco in Oman will further encourage cultural exchange between the Middle East and Spain. The Arabs ruled Spain for almost 700 years and around ten per cent of words in the Spanish language come from classic Arabic.
“We learnt a lot from the Arabs, and here we are with our dance and music, infusing diversity into Omani society. This is a great way of building a society out of cultural exchange. Flamenco might become as popular as belly dancing in Arab culture in the near future,” said Karen.
Delfina Molina, a Venezuelan who learns the dance at the centre, said, “Even with my chores and responsibilities at home, I make it a point to attend Karen's classes every week.
"This commitment comes not only from my want for a correct posture, but also my need to master the art form. If we are inspired, then we can inspire other nationalities interested in learning the dance.”
Fraile says that one doesn’t necessarily perform for an audience. “Dance for the muse in you, even if it means doing it alone in front of the mirror. Let the music be your feelings and the audience be your mind. So flame it up!”
One can contact the Spanish Cultural Center for more details on 24698981.