Looking to warm up from the cold wintry weather? The passionate dance of flamenco can raise the temperature of any room as I recently discovered at a class at the Danc’in Place taught by Erika deJulia.
Flamenco dancing is very passionate and dates back almost 400 years, with its origins coming from Gypsy roots. deJulia, a Columbia native and Westbury resident, says her relationship with flamenco was love at first sight.
“I knew nothing about flamenco and the first time I saw it I knew that was what I wanted to do,” deJulia said. She studied flamenco and castanets with the Ballet Español de Cuba, and the dance has since then become a life passion. Along with teaching for the past 17 years she has also performed flamenco in Long Island, New York City and with professional dance groups in New Jersey and San Francisco.
Flamenco is not only a fun, challenging dance, but de Julia notes that it’s also great exercise, helping posture and incorporating the whole body.
“People think that flamenco is only footwork. The footwork is really the easy part and you can learn that with time and that is where you burn a lot of calories, but really the hardest part of flamenco is the upper body,” de Julia said. “The upper body is going to lean in a different direction than the feet are going.”
de Julia said that people have a special connection with flamenco and that it is a particular taste. The first flamenco class at Danc’in place is free, so people can try the dance out to see if they like it. She notes that the dance is not learned quickly and that it is an art.
“People that come to class have to love it because it is not easy,” she said. “But you are going to have the satisfaction of putting yourself out there. If you like the music and you have a connection with it, you are going to be okay.”
And for those who do it, she said the experience can be very rewarding.
“I think for women it is very empowering because it is very feminine and you can do it at any age,” deJulia said. “It is not about how much you stretch, or how fast you go, it is about you. It is a personal experience and I think that is why it is so appealing to different ages.”
The dancers in the class range from 10 years old to over 60, and they all came to flamenco for different reasons.
Westbury’s Susan Chan discovered the dance when she went to Spain. “I fell in love with flamenco and said ‘why not me?’ It was on my bucket list and now I’m doing it,” Chan said.
Christine Scatturo of Port Washington first experienced flamenco when she went to Spain for her 50th birthday. “I discovered Flamenco and fell in love with it. It’s good for the spirit and the soul,” she said.
Sandrine Gold, also of Port Washington, started taking classes after she saw deJulia perform. “ I love it because it makes us so happy,” Gold said. “Erika is so passionate. She gives (that passion) to us, so in those winter months when it has been terrible, we feel very warm and happy in here.”
The Danc’in place is located on Westbury Ave. in Carle Place. For more information visit www.thedancinplaceny.com or call 516-333-5220