Flamenco Chicago

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Flamenco Chicago in the Media

 

ABC-TV • Ñ Beat

A HIspanic Heritage Month segment featuring Flamenco Chicago with reporter Theresa Gutierrez.

Her story is the benefits of flamenco dance for women at all stages of life.

 

 

WGN-TV • Chicago's Best Flamenco Class

Reporter Brittney Payton stops by to experience her first flamenco class, and interviews Rosetta as well as a few of our students.

 

 
“Why did I wait 15 years to do this?” she asks during a conversation a few weeks earlier. “It isn’t that much money. It isn’t that much time. I was so wrapped up in finding a job and having the right job and hanging out with my friends.”

She is asking a question many of us have asked of ourselves: Where did all of the time go?

”I really wish I had started earlier,” she says. “I say make it happen because you only have so long to live in this life.”

Still, the women are hugging and laughing. “That was so much fun!” Anamaria says.

After the recital, Anamaria finds her family and friends, who are waiting to embrace her. “She was great,” her husband says.

This is, she says, just the beginning.

”I know I am going to keep doing it,” she says. Her smile is enormous.

”It takes so much time to learn—you can’t learn it all in six weeks! But it’s thrilling because it’s a start for me.”

 

You'll Find a Few Additional Mentions & Interviews at These Links:

The Chicago Tribune

By Trine Tsouderos, Tribune staff reporter

Women in long skirts and stage makeup are flitting about backstage, their faces shining with excitement and nervousness and concentration. It's five pieces into a dance recital at St. Patrick Performing Arts Centre in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood.

Just offstage are four women in matching ruffled black skirts, black leotard tops, pink and blue shawls, and shoes that look like Mary Janes, except tiny nails are tapped into their soles and heels. Their hair is pulled back into buns and decorated with white daisies and plastic combs.

These four are the night's beginners, just moments from performing a two-minute flamenco dance in front of 300 people.

One is more of a beginner than the others: Anamaria Haefelin, a 37-year-old mother of two from Beverly who took up this supremely complicated dance just six weeks before.

She breaks away from the other women to practice--again. Her heels click on the floor like gunfire. Stamp, stamp, heel. Stamp, stamp, heel stamp, stamp, stamp.

Offstage, a speaker is announcing the group, explaining how Anamaria got here, how she won an At Play contest in which the newspaper promised to make her dream come true in six weeks, how her dream was to learn to dance flamenco.

The audience, which contains 25 of Anamaria's family and friends, erupts into cheers as the music, a bright rumba flamenca, fills the auditorium.

Anamaria's two minutes have come--the culmination of dozens of hours of practice, a pulled neck muscle, dance classes, driving to dance class, anxiety and probably worst of all, being followed around by a reporter, a videographer and a photographer.

She gives her fellow dancers a quick motherly squeeze before they flutter through the velvety sidestage curtains, leaving the cozy darkness and the endless practicing and the might haves, should haves and could haves for the stark light of the stage.

- - -

Rewind six weeks to another dimly lit place--a dance studio where the room is intimate and festive, thanks to twinkle lights reflecting in a mirror covering one wall.

In the middle of this space is Anamaria. She is petite, extraordinarily fit, with a hammy, infectious smile. She wears her dark hair in an angled, longish cut. 

Standing next to her is Rosetta Magdalen, a professional flamenco dancer and the owner of Flamenco Chicago, one of the city's few schools dedicated to the art form.

Right now, Magdalen is attempting to feed Anamaria enough flamenco in one hour to enable her to keep up with a beginners' class that starts as soon as this private lesson ends. The class, which gathers for an hour twice a week, has already met six times.

Magdalen starts by teaching Anamaria how to hold herself. Pull in your abs, she says. Lift up your chest. Keep your front knee bent.

"You want to give the impression you may move at any time, but they don't know when you will move," Magdalen says. "There's always an element of surprise."

Magdalen pulls herself into the stance. She looks like a proud peacock with the coiled power of a tiger ready to pounce. "You want to stand like this every moment of your class," she says.

Anamaria attempts the stance. She looks a little awkward and uncomfortable.

Magdalen adds another element. She rolls her shoulders forward, kicking her elbows out slightly. She begins to raise her arms over her head as she rotates her wrists. It is a beautiful, seductive movement.

"This," she says as she seduces the mirror, "is your basic arm movement."

Anamaria raises her arms, twirling her hands. She gets the basic movement but she is missing the grace, the fluidity, the seduction.

- - -

Three weeks later, Anamaria is at her bungalow on a leafy street in Beverly.

She now possesses a long black flamenco skirt with a flouncy ruffle at the bottom, a tight black leotard and the shoes with the tiny nails--and a glimmer of confidence.

She has been practicing for hours in addition to two hours of regular classes a week and the occasional private lesson. She practices in her bedroom, in front of a full-length mirror, while her kids, Nate, 6, and Josh, 3, are at school.

Today, the kids are home but busy playing. She shows off her moves--the two-minute choreographed dance she will perform during a recital a month later.

At the end of the six weeks, she will have run through this dance a hundred times. But now, with the performance still weeks away, she is still learning it.

Her level of commitment astonishes Magdalen.

"One time she came in and said, `I only put in four hours of practice this week,'" Magdalen says. "If I can get the average student to practice 10 minutes a week, that's a lot."

But nobody who knows Anamaria is surprised. She is an unusually dogged person.

"When she gets something in her head, she attacks," says her husband, David Haefelin.

Anamaria agrees. "I'm a bulldog," she says. "I bite in and I don't let go."

- - -

There are just 12 days until the performance and Anamaria is juggling her boys and contractors overhauling one of her bathrooms.

She is better now at executing turns, a major bugaboo for some weeks, and her timing is improving.

She wishes she had done this years ago.

"Why did I wait 15 years to do this?" she asks during a conversation a few weeks earlier. "It isn't that much money. It isn't that much time. I was so wrapped up in finding a job and having the right job and hanging out with my friends."

She is asking a question many of us have asked of ourselves: Where did all of the time go?

"I really wish I had started earlier," she says. "I say make it happen because you only have so long to live in this life."

Back at the auditorium, Anamaria has just walked onstage with fellow beginners (and Chicagoans) Shiwali Varshney, Daniela Bueno and Janira Monterroso. They are walking in a line and clapping to the rumba flamenco music, which is bright, exciting.

Two minutes and counting until the end of the dance.

If they are nervous, it doesn't really show. Their movements are fluid, mostly crisp.

The only hint of jangled nerves is in their faces, which wear half-thawed smiles some of the time, looks of fierce concentration at other times and, at the end, a patina of relief and joy.

Now they are swishing their skirts back and forth. There is complicated heelwork--stamp, stamp, heel. Stamp, stamp, heel.

Now the turns. Oh, the turns. Four in a row, while moving, and while synchronizing with the other dancers.

Anamaria executes hers well. Hours of practice have paid off.

The dance is wrapping up now. It has been a success--Anamaria, Shiwali, Daniela and Janira have captured the music's lightness, brightness and sense of fun.

Someone says "y!"--the signal to exit the stage, and they leave to roaring applause.

Offstage, they are elated and self-critical.

"I felt like I did horrible!" Anamaria says, though she is ecstatic and happy. "I felt like my face was molting into something horrible."

She mimes a face that looks like it is melting. "The best part? Running off the stage!"

Still, the women are hugging and laughing. "That was so much fun!" Anamaria says.

After the recital, Anamaria finds her family and friends, who are waiting to embrace her. "She was great," her husband says.

This is, she says, just the beginning.

"I know I am going to keep doing it," she says. Her smile is enormous.

"It takes so much time to learn--you can't learn it all in six weeks! But it's thrilling because it's a start for me."