Instructor Amity Skala (right) teaches flamenco to a dozen people at Creative Roots on Saturday.

Instructor Amity Skala (right) teaches flamenco to a dozen people at Creative Roots on Saturday.

Flamenco workshop brings exotic flair to town

The art of flamenco isn’t just about stomping your feet and waving your arms.

The art of flamenco isn’t just about stomping your feet and waving your arms.

It’s a style of dance that requires rhythmic movements, delicate but powerful arms and strong and precise leg work.

Roughly a dozen locals learned just how challenging flamenco can be in a two-day workshop taught by Amity Skala, an instructor from Victoria, at Creative Roots last weekend.

Flamenco is an art form that comes from the province of Andalusia and encompasses traditional song, dance and guitar from southern Spain.

Skala, who has been teaching flamenco for the past 15 years, said the movements are all about personal expression and contrast.

“It’s a coordination puzzle. If you talk to any of the ladies in the class, they’ll tell you it’s a little like rubbing their tummies and patting their heads,” she said, noting she performs roughly eight to 10 times a year.

“I think there’s a real separation and contrast in flamenco. Movements go from fast to slow from big to small. There’s even a contrast with my own body. From my waist down, I’m really grounded and earthy and from the waist up, I’m reaching and stretching up. It’s having two opposing styles that make it look dynamic.”

According to Skala, it’s a form that anyone can learn to perform.

“It’s open to people of all ages, all body types, you see entire families dancing together. It doesn’t really matter if you’re good at it, it’s just that you get out there and you do it, that you dance like you or sing like you or improvise around the steps that you know. It’s very inclusive,” she said.

Over the past few years, flamenco has grown in popularity, which Skala believes is because of its exotic nature.

“Thinking about sunny southern Spain when you’re in the middle of a snow bank is appealing for people,” she said.

“I think the music is very captivating. The guitar music appeals to people and the rhythms. There’s this exotic appeal about flamenco that captures people’s imagination,.”

This is the first time Creative Roots has brought a flamenco workshop to Smithers.

Amanda Dorscht, the owner of Creative Roots who also participated in the workshop, said it was an opportunity to introduce something new to the community.

“It just draws people in, people who have different interests but don’t want the pressure of committing to a full year,” she said.

“I loved it, it’s definitely a brain workout. Once you get the steps and the rhythm, I can see how it can be very easy to add your own flare to it.”