Take Flamenco, Not Drugs

It’s a Healthy Addiction That “Heals”

Photo Courtesy: esenciaflamenca.com

Photo Courtesy: esenciaflamenca.com

Staff Reports

San Pedro – Flamenco dance teacher, Sarah Parra, offers her students an escape through the dance, the chance to dress up, and a great workout.

For your first experience come to El Cabaret Flamenco, a live performance on Oct. 18, 2 p.m., at the Grand Annex, located at 434 W. 6th St., in San Pedro.  You won’t have to dance to reap the healing benefits, but you are sure to feel its power in the intimacy of this perfect-for-Flamenco dance venue.

As a young girl in San Diego, Parra was drawn to the Spanish culture, but could only take regular (tap, ballet, modern) dance lessons. Something lacked, that is until one of her teachers took her aside and said, “You have the perfect body for Flamenco.”

What’s ironic about that? Every body is good for Flamenco (like the old milk commercials, but different). Curvy is better, passionate is best. In fact, some of the best female Flamenco dancers are, ahem, “healthy.”

When Parra found that UCI offered Flamenco, she was on her way. Underneath the women’s beautifully full, frilly, fancy, and yet tightly fitted bodice dresses, the Flamenco dancer finds therapy – physical, mental and spiritual.

This is a comment from one of Parra’s many grateful students: “Flamenco gives me a deeper sense of self and creativity that I can’t find from any other art form. The fire and fury of flamenco is ravenous …”

And another: “Esencia Flamenca is a great environment where I feel the passion of an art form: Flamenco.”

Indeed, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) now recognizes Flamenco on its “List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”  Parra believes Flamenco gives Americans the chance to fill their cultural hunger with a dance form that developed in Southern Spain amongst the gypsies that migrated from northern India.

“We live in violent times,” Parra says. “Flamenco is a place where people can channel their anger and their emotions.”

Parra teaches males and females of all ages, and recommends Flamenco for young girls to release teen angst, and to be okay with – and even celebrate – their bodies.

”If everything comes together perfectly, the traditional complement of performers – guitarist, singer, palmista (hand rhythm), and dancer – can be overcome by “duende,” (which loosely means having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity, often connected with flamenco), and with luck the feeling spills over to the audience,” says Parra.

Parra opened Esencia Flamenca Dance Company in 2000, currently located at 3257 Katella Ave., in Los Alamitos.  She has been teaching and performing Flamenco dance for over 20 years in Southern California. Parra has a bachelor’s degree in Dance from UCI, and has studied extensively in Madrid, Sevilla, and Jerez. Her classes cater to all levels from beginning to advanced, and to all ages from Mommy and Me (ages 3-5) up to seniors.

Parra’s mission is, “To enrich the lives of Southern Californians by exposing them to the art of Flamenco.”

For more information, call (562) 761-1618, or visit esenciaflamenca.com.  Tickets for the El Cabaret Flamenco are $25 to $45, with the following individuals performing:  Jesus Montoya, Kai Narezo, Joey Heredia, Sarah Parra, Ricardo Chavez, Jenn Silva, Rosy Banuelos, and Marcela Montano.