It’s not really possible to learn Manton in a couple days

but … no pain no gain and no guts no glory

By Kasandra “La China”
July 21, 2011

Mozaico-Kasandra-Manton-2007

Kasandra “La China” & Oscar Nieto in “La Petenera”
at the Vancouver International Dance Festival 2007, Photo by Elvira Yebes

Congratulations to all Fandangos con Manton Workshop attendees!

On Day 1, everyone was eager with anticipation as dancers twirled their new or borrowed mantons.  “Who here has ever danced with manton?” I asked.  A couple people raised their hands but there were a lot of disclaimers…”yes but not for 10 years”, “yes but I don’t remember anything”, “yes but it’s been a whileeeee.”

We started with some basic arm technique and positioning of arms and hands with the manton.  It was all good until I taught people how to create motion with one arm only.  There is always a tendency to move both arms since you have one piece of manton in one hand, and then the opposite end on the other.  But for “seamless fleco action”, one really has to create “circles” with the leading hand while the other just follows along.  One has to think about ow the motion is created, think in terms of circles or figure eights or making shapes with the moving arm.

By Day 2 people were shocked that their arms and shoulders were sore and by the end of the workshop, everybody said, “Hey, I can feel my abs, obliques and arms…”.  Perhaps a new course should be added to the Fitness World curriculum:  “Exercise your upper body twirling a manton – 90 min workout.”

The group was able to complete a choreography including one fandangos copla and one coro.  It was an uphill battle.  From what I could see, folks were muscling their way through the choreography and struggling to be in compas.  Nobody was really seeing the kung fu behind the manton.  Manton is much akin to tai chi and you have to use the weight and flow of the manton to help you, rather than fight it.  In any case, 2 days was enough for people to get the basic concept but not enough to really wield it well which should come as no surprise.

Two days was more like an introduction to manton.  Some people loved it, some struggled and some hated it but I think everyone has a greater appreciation for the art form now.
I had some great opportunities to study with masters such as Blanca del Rey (check her out at Casa Patas in Madrid because I think she still does her famous Solea del Manton), Carmela Greco and Matilde Coral (check out bata de cola and manton together in Alegrias).  Their styles lean towards traditional/classico so there is the basis of my training. Of course, styles evolve over time….

In June, Andrea and I created a heretical choreography to Sting’s “Fragilidad” in which Andrea started on the floor and rolled around in the manton before we picked it up.  The choreography was inspired it happened quickly over 3 hours.  It was inspirational to do some crazy passing of the manton between us.

Mozaico-Andrea-Kasandra-Manton-2011-2

Andrea & Kasandra at El Jaleo 2011 – Photo by Elvira Yebes

Check out Rafaela Carrasco’s Vamos Al Tiroteo for some new manton moves.

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