Milla Kerch may only be in kindergarten, but when flamenco music peals out of the dance studio's speakers, the pint-size Chicagoan is ready for action. "I love flamenco-the rhythm, the dance moves and the music!"
Flamenco dancing is one of the most beautiful cultural treasures to have arrived on Lake Michigan's shores from Spain. It is the culmination of three forms of artistic expression: Cante (singing), Guitarra (guitar playing) and Baile (dancing.) Though it originates in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, flamenco has conquered the world with its fancy footwork and catchy rhythms.
In its large studio space with arched mirrors, the Flamenco Arts Center of Chicago, located at 3755 N. Western Ave., strives to create a warm environment where flamenco thrives as an art form expressed by people of all ages.
A beginner's class for boys and girls age 7-11 is offered Tuesday afternoons. Children learn proper technique, basic flamenco styles, clapping rhythms and songs.
"Children are more flexible learners than adults and they can pick up the rhythms, lyrics and movements of flamenco the same as they do for nursery rhymes and 'Simon Says' movements," explains Kathi Best, the center director.
Parents can have as much fun as kids with this energetic and expressive art form by taking a class with kids in tow. Head over to Flamenco Chicago, located at 2914 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. This flamenco-centered dance school offers classes for adults and children age 10 and up accompanied by an adult.
Too busy to sign up for weekly classes? Check out "Flamenco for Kids" (Flamenco Para Niños), a 55-minute instructional DVD ($34.95). Silvia Marín, a dance teacher and director of Compañía El Flamenco Vive, will have your kids clapping and tapping their feet to the compass rhythm in this culturally immersive program. World-famous flamenco singers explain the meaning behind the songs, and renowned guitarists explain the different strumming styles, while schoolchildren from Madrid dance, swish their colorful long skirts and tap their heels to the beat.
• Flamenco Arts Center Chicago
• Flamenco Chicago
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
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