TRAVERSE CITY — Flamenco: A foot-stomping, hand-clapping, red skirt-swishing dance performed with a stemmed rose clenched between one’s teeth.
Or at least that’s what viewers see in the movies.
Local dance instructor Jennifer Belmar said the reality omits the flower and the skirts don’t have to be red, though a bright color makes it more fun.
“It’s a lot of stomping and rhythm,” she said. “There is the movement with flowing skirts and it’s all set to storytelling music.”
Belmar, a Grand Traverse Academy Spanish teacher, said it was her idea to give an introduction to flamenco this fall at Ballet Etc.
“It’s something that I enjoy a lot,” she said. “Flamenco dancing comes from the Gypsies in southern Spain. It’s an important form of entertainment with families.”
Flamenco came to Belmar’s attention during her decade in Spain, where she was a choreographer and teacher.
As a lifelong dancer, she said she wants to share this emotional dance with everyone.
“I love the passion that I can feel from the music and stories,” she said. “I want to give them a sense of another type of movement expression.”
Would-be flamenco artists do not need to have a dance background to join the class, Belmar said.
Both men and women are welcome as long as they are interested in learning and trying something new.
“If they’re excited, they’ll work harder,” Belmar said. “Flamenco is something unique that I can offer to the community that they haven’t experienced before. I’m hoping it’s popular.”
Ballet Etc. Director Tom Morrell said this is the first time the studio is offering flamenco classes, adding that he believes it is also the sole provider of such dance lessons in Traverse City. Sessions begin on the first Friday in October and run for eight or nine weeks to “see how it goes,” he said.
“We’re excited to try it,” Morrell said. “I think it’ll be a great new experience for people.”
Belmar encourages female students to wear skirts, if possible.
All students should bring character shoes, which have a little heel for the foot-stomping moves. She will also provide a few handheld fans for dancers to borrow.
In addition to basic flamenco, Belmar presents what she named “flamenco fusion,” choreography of her own design that blends ballet, modern and flamenco techniques.
The weekly flamenco courses start Oct. 4 at Ballet Etc., on Robinwood Court.
The fall 2019 schedule also includes ballet, modern, jazz, tap and Irish lessons for ages 3 through adult.
Tuition prices vary; family discounts are available. Call 231-929-2787 to learn more.