Transformative Flamenco Learning Experiences with Manuel Betanzos

  • taniagoh
  • May 8, 2018



Flamenco Festival in Jerez this year: the cold, rainy season couldn’t dampen the warmth felt indoors, in the flamenco classes and in the theatre. What an inspiration learning from our teachers and a privilege watching the many artists on stage. 

Maestro Manuel Betanzos taught two workshops – the Caracoles with fan and the Bamberas. We’ll be touring his Bamberas workshop to Taipei and Singapore (20 – 24 June 2018), as part of his Asia tour including Beijing, Hong Kong and cities in Japan, so let me share this video, which gives a glimpse of his teaching.

It’s always heartening to see the response of the students. Afterall, the workshop at the Festival is intense, with 2.5 hours daily over 7 days. So there is much to digest mentally, emotionally, and to work the body physically, especially with a maestro like Manuel.

In this video, we have a little glimpse of what the little town of Jerez looks like, before heading indoors to where the workshop is, in the quaint Calle Ponce street. The two wonderful flamenco artists accompanying maestro Manuel Betanzos here are singer Manuel Soto and guitarist Javier Ibañez. Both of whom also accompany the award-winning bailaor, Eduardo Guerrero in his shows at the festival. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to feel supported by such calibre of musicians.

The students are asked to do their own improvisation to the beautiful melodies of the guitarist. Moving on to a section where you can see Manuel explaining how he wants the students to do a marcaje (marking), making it normal and natural, without too much force. He demonstrates the material clearly and paces the class well to make sure students can follow.

Now the students have to dance it on their own, and the owners is on them to know their work. Here, Manuel sits with the singer and guitarist communicating with them and with the students. He can’t help but dance from his seat too!

Enjoy the video! It is but a glimpse and over these months, we’ll be sharing more.


Getting to know Manuel

A hallmark of this great maestro – he makes you aware of where you are at, how much you can, and therefore should, achieve. Not many may show you and enable you to go further, but Manuel is not a ‘general’ teacher standing at the front of the class. He is with the student, guiding each and giving personalised advice. And by his energy and charisma, uplifts everyone.

So it’s always amazing to me to see the contrast of Day 1 and the nal day. For I know I would see transformations in progress, the maestro drawing out the best from students, students inspired to reach new heights, stronger for the challenges they faced, and joy and motivation to keep them going long after they return to their own countries.

New Explorations

Don’t forget what’s new to explore at this year’s Taipei and Singapore workshops. We’ll be aiming towards an overview of a full choreography, learning and exploring adaptations and possibilities of palo structures. Plus, all participants invited to join in the end-of-workshop showcase, Espacio Propio. Brave ones to present adaptations of Manuel’s original Bamberas and Tangos choreography!



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