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Stomping Ground Want to feel strong, sexy and powerful? Time to put your foot down.

By Kimberly Uslin

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I knew I was in for a treat when Alexa Miton, the flamenco teacher at Baltimore School of Dance, instructed me to wear a long, flowy skirt and heels to her Wednesday-evening class. I felt overdressed as I hustled down the Hampden street to the studio, but the feeling was fleeting—I arrived to find my (all-female) classmates draped in patterned circle skirts, some sporting flowers in their hair. (FYI: Men are most welcome.)

The women in costume were at once aware of their peculiar appearance and entirely natural in it, a duality of flamboyance and gravity that persisted. I found myself feeling alternately ridiculous and sexy, for example, as I snaked my palms and fingers into the traditional floreos—hand motions—integral to the solo dance, and Miton wove her somber demonstrations of the proud dance with fun Spanish-history trivia and inside jokes. A live flamenco guitarist in the fluorescent-lit room only added to the novel vibe.

How It Works: Miton, a seasoned flamenco performer, leads her pupils through a series of isolated motions (posture, foot position, floreos, the all-important and ever-satisfying stomps, or golpes) before combining them all into a fluid series of steps. The result is seriously impressive—and while I didn’t master the dance, it wasn’t discouragingly difficult, either.

What I Love: Flamenco is all about expressing graceful strength, and the upright postures, striking shapes and just-plain-loud golpes were empowering. Miton proclaimed at the beginning of class to “never dance like you’re sorry,” and by the end of class I felt anything but apologetic … despite my flawed form.

What I Don’t: I’ve never been a fan of performing in front of classmates. The class was uniquely uncritical, however, so perhaps it’s all part of the process. Olé!

Baltimore STYLE Magazine November 2016

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Gabriel Encinas, Antonio D. Gamboa, Paul Wegner, Pat Berrett, Steve Johnson.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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