Puela Lunaris performing barefoot flamenco at the throne room of alexander the great

Barefoot Flamenco (Part 2)

By Puela Lunaris

Click here if you wish to read part 1 of this article

Since 1993, I have been developing a barefoot Flamenco choreographic body of work that emphasizes creative self-expression and connection to my audience, rather than merely the use of choreographic devices or technical virtuosity.  Similarly, I have developed my own distinctive style, using a free-flowing, interpretative approach to Flamenco, doing away with the rigid rules characteristic of conventional, footwork-based Flamenco dance.

In my contemporary approach to barefoot Flamenco choreography, I use breath, posture, and emotional state to establish a soul-body connection.  I especially love working with archetypes, and I greatly value a fascinating stage presence.  I compose by playing with space, time, shapes, and energy dynamics to express universal human experiences through my choreographic voice.

Puela Lunaris honors Carmen Amaya even though she dances flamenco barefoot in a feminine stytleHowever, I am aware that by choosing to dance Flamenco barefoot, I have been challenging more than 80 years of convention. Since the times of the great Flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya (b.1918—d.1963), footwork-based Flamenco has been the norm. In the beginning of my dance career in 1993, it felt very daring on my part to break away from those boundaries and for a long time I was afraid of criticism.

Now, 21 years later I find that more and more people – especially women – are attracted to my style of barefoot Flamenco interpretation.  Perhaps this is the case because in my style of barefoot Flamenco, the whole body is emphasized in the dance, not only the feet.  Or, perhaps because barefoot is more serene, more refreshingly simple and more sensual than dancing Flamenco with shoes.

A decisive point in my dance career came about in 1994. While teaching a multimedia course on Modern Dance for the prestigious Centro Andaluz de Danza in Sevilla, I came across Martha Graham’s auto-biography called “Blood Memory.” In Spanish it was translated as “Memoria Ancestral.”

Puela Lunaris barefoot flamenco dance is conceptually deeply inspired by Martha GrahamConceptually, Graham’s work deeply inspired and influenced me in many ways. First I spent hours in the studio putting into practice Martha Graham’s suggestion of connecting with what my blood wanted to express through dance like she used to do in her own practice as a choreographer. That brought me to search and research the wisdom of my cultural heritage, namely the rich dance history of Spain since the time of the Puellae Gaditanae 2,000 years ago.

Combining the ability of accessing energies stored in the collective unconscious and avid historical research, I  developed a process that I call “Awakening the Ancestral Memory.”  As a result, I began dancing Flamenco barefoot.

Ever since, whenever I dance barefoot Flamenco, the codes in my DNA seem to awake and it feels like centuries of history are flowing through me.

For years my work in the studio and on the stage was based on Awakening my Ancestral Memory through dance, and this brought me to create many different barefoot Flamenco choreographies.  This body of work culminated in a production called Ancestral Memory, which premiered at the Throne Room of Alexander the Great in the ancient city of Babylon during the 1999 International Babylon Festival.

Recently, I have been asked to offer a Lunaris Barefoot Flamenco Dance Teacher Training Online on my most popular barefoot Flamenco choreography: Spanish Gypsy Skirt Dance.

Because I see my art as a link to connect the primordial aspects of dance with the cutting-edge aspects of emerging technologies, I am delighted to use the internet to serve current and aspiring dance teachers who don’t have access to study with me in person. It is my mission to pass down these fascinating aspects of my culture that would be forgotten otherwise.

To conclude, I love the freedom, the sensuality and the lyricism of dancing Flamenco barefoot, and want to share this with everyone who wishes to learn.

Something quite special happens to me when I dance Flamenco barefoot – I connect with that Ancestral Memory that Martha Graham had wisely described in her autobiography, and it feels like centuries of history are flowing through me.

Comments

  • Cassandra Velasco
    Reply

    Puella Lunaris has added a lot to the art of Flamenco by bringing out and expanding a tradition that was almost forgotten in the thundering of contemporary dancers all competing to out-stamp and even stamp upon one another. Barefoot dancing requires a different approach for the guitarist because the llamadas, (call steps) that signal a change in rhythm , speed, or a different sequence of steps are harder to pick up. Instead of following by ear by focusing on the footwork,, the guitarist must be more aware of the dancer’s entire body, even facial expressions. And these visual cues can be missed by a musician who always keeps his head bent down over the instrument.. This resurrection of an earlier style of dance accompaniment may force a simplification of the music, an abandonment of highly technical guitar gymnastics, and a return to the very basic playing that was typical of early Flamenco. Simple percussion, like panderetas in assorted sizes (tamborines), chinchines (finger cymbals ), and primitive castanets, even seashells, and drumming on wooden tables with bare hands or fingernails have been mostly forgotten and drowned out by the incessant thumping of the cajon (Peruvian box drum), which threatens to drown out footwork, pitos y palmadas (finger snapping and hand clapping) and forces singers to be shouters. Flamenco has always been a music of rebels and rebellion, and it needs artists like Puella, to save it from being enchained by artistic rigidity and then dissected to death by academics.

    • Puela Lunaris

      Wow! Cassandra, thank you so much for your soulful comment! It feels my heart with joy and hope to find people like you who understand the importance of keeping alive original Flamenco. Ole you!