The Joy of Flamenco
erena Joy is a flamenco dancer and flamenco dance teacher living and teaching around Lismore and Byron Bay, NSW. Originally from Adelaide, Serena was drawn to flamenco like a moth to a flame, quickly developing a fascination, balanced with a lighthearted attitude of - what else is there!Since finding out about Serena, I wanted to find out how her 'more regional' environment differs to the urban schools in the popular flamenco cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.People come to flamenco dance classes for many reasons in Australia. Some have no understanding of what it is, thinking it's one dance like Tango. Others want to perform and explore the world of flamenco dance, but have no understanding of cante and may even have a distaste for the flamenco voice. Many start with no interest in pure flamenco and simply want to dance, get fit, have fun, feel sexy and have something of their own. They want to experience some joy and be part of something greater than their own lives!As the managing editor of the Flamenco Australia Magazine many people ask me how I came to flamenco and for me personally, flamenco dance was a small doorway to the whole pie, an endless rabbit hole that I fell down head first. Flamenco dance classes via MelbourneFlamenco.com came at a huge turning point in my life when I had lost a lot of things and people close to me. The strength and attitude of flamenco got me through the death of my brother, which came at this huge low point in my life. Flamenco gave me the might, the chutzpah, the brazen nerve to suck it all up into a flamenco pose, take control and do what had to be done. To stand tall, chest out, knees slightly bent, arms of confidence, a sexy line, leaning in and facing the situation head on with a stare of 'bring it on!' And back in the studio it allowed me to get some time out and recharge that flamenco spirit.
"When your trying to get those new flamenco dance steps, or master anything in flamenco, there is no room to think about anything depressive!"
Australian flamenco is unique, and while flamenco deserves a great deal of respect, we are a long way from Spain and our love of flamenco should be shared with others any way we can. We can pass on; a rhythm to a muso, a flamenco attitude to teenager, an exciting falseta to a guitarist and a cool turn to a girl who loves to dance. But nothing does it quite like teaching a regular dance class, where each week you can get them inspired, get them excited, give them new challenges to conquer and develop muscles they never knew they had!!!I like many others owe a lot to my flamenco teacher and for me now, the whole world of flamenco is a 24/7 study ...and to everyone that is involved in sharing flamenco I say, you are healers and never forget the joy you create in others!
nd now, it's with great pleasure that I welcome, a humble flamenco healer, Serena Joy to our little magazine...Serena, what brought you to flamenco?
"I tried many different forms of dance, sport, and music when I was younger and flamenco was the first form that I found that I could express myself fully in. It's such a cliche, but it was like finding the right language to speak when you're so frustrated with the inadequacies of your own language - it's like a native tongue that I never knew I had."
What is one of your treasured memories from your life as a flamenco?
"The very first performance that I did as a beginner with Areti Boyaci in Adelaide. That was when the lightbulb went off and I realised that I wasn't nervous or shy of sharing what I had learnt, I really loved it. I felt encouraged and able to give encouragement back - to give jaleos to the other dancers, the singer, the musicians - it wasn't all about me - it was about community. A very special moment since then was to dance with the support band for the Yasmin Levy concert when she came to Lismore in 2007 - that was a very surreal and wonderful opportunity."
Serena, recently performed and taught alongside belly dance, bollywood and burlesque in the 'Dance of Colours' project in Ipswich1 . Flamenco is in a different league when it comes to the audience performer relationship. I asked Serena if she tries to educate a more general public audience before performing...
"I am not much of a public speaker - I will generally let the dance speak for itself. If it means something to someone in the audience and stirs them in some way, then that's wonderful, but if they remain un-moved then there is nothing I can do. There are so many things to be passionate about in this world and if we were all the same it would be incredibly boring. During a workshop or teaching situation I will always attempt to imbue my passion for flamenco with the students and also educate them with a great level of respect for the roots and current paths that flamenco has taken. I am only a fledgling Flamenco and I hold the foremothers and fathers of flamenco in this country and elsewhere in high esteem. I am certainly more partial to the 'old-school' style of Flamenco and not into fusion much myself, but I am always excited, interested and inspired by what other people are getting up to. "
How do you think your students differ when compared to those in the larger cities?
"I imagine we are a condensed version of what you would find anywhere. We certainly have a slightly older age bracket of generally women in this area and often it seems that it's something they have always wanted to do, always been drawn to, but perhaps have never the chance to do it. I marvel at the cross-section of people who are involved and to see what joy and meaning it gives them to have found this in their lives. Grandmothers, business women, survivors of cancer, ex-ballet dancers, mothers & daughters - all with their own take on what it means to them to be involved. We are in a unique situation here because there are no allegiances to any one school of flamenco and so we have had Workshops with so many of the incredible teachers from around Australia and recently from Spain as well."
hat Serena touches on in her last comment is that finding flamenco, for many, is a source of inner power for them. It works on so many levels. Mastery over rhythm brings great joy and when combined with the healing power of movement it is for many, a spiritual ecstasy unto its own. Personal life rhythms are ever present and movement occurs on many physical, mental and spiritual levels. The healing power of flamenco can be applied to stress relief, personal relationships, attunement, personal self healing and general health and well-being.And yes! There is a purpose to this article and placing the spotlight on Serena. She represents all of our flamenco dance teachers just doing what they love to do and possibly under-estimating the profound positive influence they are having on their community.Serena's joy is your joy!
"You are the ones who inspire others through your own inspiration!"
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Serena Joy performed with Deirdre Anderson and John Robertson (guitar) for the 'Dance of Colours' concert this month on the 19th of June at the Civic Centre in Ipswich.
Serena performs tonight (25th June 2010) at the Chameleon Cafe in Byron Bay with 'Arte Gitana'; Kelly Houghton (dance), Paul Margolin (guitar) and Meg Walker (voice). Serena also performs on the last Saturday of every month at the Spanish Tapas Bar, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
And next month Serena will be performing with Simone Pope and Andrew Vievers in their Flamenco Fire season at QPAC in Brisbane this year from the 29th - 31st of July.For up to date information on Serena flamenco dance classes and performances visit the