Jul 29 2014
Last Saturday, Layla and I were invited to a “parents & kids” flamenco workshop organised by The Esplanade. I’ve usually said no to Saturday activities because Layla has cathechism classes in the afternoon and I don’t like juggling multiple events in a day. But I’ve had a change of heart, as I don’t want to keep depriving Layla of opportunities to try something new just because I find travelling a hassle–after all, most places are about an hour away at most. And, I mean, there are parents willing to drive across states so that their kids can get the best instruction or exposure!
Despite my best intentions, we left home later than we should have on Saturday and arrived late for the workshop. Fortunately the class was small and they were still at the hand claps stage, otherwise known as palmas. We were taught two kinds of clapping–one with the hands slightly cupped for a louder, fuller sound, and another with the hands flat for a sharper sound. We were also asked to count in fours and try accenting the first beat, and once we managed that, we threw in a foot stomp for effect. (Click here for a much more complicated clapping routine.)
The next thing we were taught was the importance of an open, “proud” posture in flamenco dances. This is no dance for wallflowers–showmanship is everything here, and the first tricky part for me came when our fingers had to be part of the performance as well. What we had to do was move our arms in a semi circular motion, with our fingers opening up like flowers, and that threw me off. Also, it’s a lot more tiring than it looks; flamenco dancing is a good workout for your arms because you’ll have to keep holding them up. Subsequently, we were taught a few simple sequences that we put together for a short dance, which was a lot of fun and not too difficult to follow, although I messed up a few steps especially when the teacher was observing us instead of leading!
The hour passed quickly and I was glad we’d made time for the session! I felt it was well paced, and although the steps were simple, there were already challenges that we had to overcome. I know that Layla’s interested in dance; she loves watching music videos where there’s dancing and I’ve asked her before if she’d be keen to take a hip hop or jazz dance class, but that’s the point where she hesitates. I think it can be intimidating to sign up for a term’s worth of dance classes when what kids around her age need is a sampler, and what The Esplanade is providing with their Footwork dance classes is perfect for this purpose. I like the idea of parent-accompanied workshops even though Layla’s old enough to do this on her own; it’s a chance to bond and it takes the pressure off the child when the parent tries something and realises it’s not easy! Also, these workshops are conducted by different dancing schools, so if your child enjoys the workshop and would like to learn more, you’ll just need to let the teacher know, and you can discuss next steps.
The Esplanade is holding these parent-child Footwork classes as part of the da:ns Festival, and they’re offering classes for hip hop, flamenco, cha cha, bhangra, and line dancing. The classes are suitable for kids aged 7-10. The workshop fee is S$24 for an adult-and-child pair, or S$36 for a family of three. There are also workshops for youths and adults, as well as for little ones (3-6yrs). Click here for the schedule and other details.
Layla and I received complimentary tickets to a Footwork class at The Esplanade; I was not compensated for this post. Group photos are courtesy of The Esplanade.