By Kasandra “La China”
July 19, 2011
Congratulations to the Abanico Workshop Attendees! Most people had never used the fan before, although most were experienced dancers. Thirty-two eager attendees crammed into Studio B at Hastings Dance Studio to learn Fandangos con Abanico with Kasandra! This is a Mozaico Flamenco record! Ole!
I did not realize there was that kind of pent up demand for fan. I suppose I have not taught this particular flamenco prop at Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy in many years but fan has been in our dance company repetoire as a guajira, a modern rondena and a Chinita number since 2005!
Abanico (aka Fan) is probably the easiest prop to learn and is relatively simple when compared to castanets or manton. Yet the difficulty remains in opening and closing the fan artistically, and doing it so that it looks easy. The Fan is always an audience favorite because it is so cheerful and colourful.
I have had the opportunity to learn fan from some of flamenco’s legends including Matilde Coral and Merche Esmeralda, so my tastes remain quite traditional if not antiguo. In the workshop, we worked on techniques and also a short classical choreography to two fandangos coplas and a coro.
What was AWESOME was Robin, Tracy and Liat from the cante club taking over and singing with our guitarist Gerardo Alcala! Ole cante club!
Yes, it is possible to dance with a fan in a few short days but it takes many years and a lifetime to create art, open and close the fan imaginatively and wield it effortlessly.
Shortly after this workshop, I took a Guajira con Abanico workshop with Pilar Ogalla, a young 30 something flamenca from Cadiz. Stylistically she is super strong, super flamenca, contemporary, but what I found amazing was she used the short abanico instead of the standard long one, which is handled a bit differently. I should also note that she basically negated all the diagonal rules and lines that I had previously learned from the older masters in one fell swoop. (As she often held the abanico perpendicular to the ground as well as horizontally to the ground.)
SO I guess usage of the flamenco fan is evolving. All rules are meant to be broken. Again. Darn, just when you thought you knew something.
I should ask you to check out this YouTube of Rocio Molina revolutionizing Guajira with Abanico, as I think this was pivotal in changing the usage of the fan to the short one.
Then go back and look at the oldies like Merche Esmeralda and Matilde Coral and let me know what you think.