Flamenco dance course to be taught during the spring semester by former student

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The course adds to options for associate degree  in dance.

By Ryan Johnston

Backstage at her mother’s show, a young Annette Champion Flores attempts to slather make-up on her face and dresses in traditional flamenco clothing to emulate dancers on-stage.

Now, she lives dance, and hopes to pass that passion on to others while teaching flamenco dancing during the spring semester.

This will be the first semester that flamenco dancing will be offered as a course on this campus.

“We had done a little flamenco as part of the performance group class and they enjoyed it,” dance Professor George Ann Simpson said. “I anticipate that this class will be of a lot of interest to a lot of students, because in San Antonio, there is a lot of opportunity to perform flamenco.”

Flamenco is a Spanish art form from Andalusia, an area in Spain’s southern region. It is often called the “dance of the gypsies.”

According to Champion Flores, it began with gypsies, who were once Egyptian, that crossed over to be free from their lifestyles in Egypt.

The kinesiology department offers tap, two levels of ballet, modern, jazz, three levels of performance and two levels of ballroom.

Simpson said that the typical range of students in the dance classes is between 20-30 students.

She said she anticipates that the class will fall a little below at first, but once word gets out and they start to perform, the class will grow.

“I was born to dance,” Champion Flores said. “It’s in my blood. When I was young, I decided that flamenco wasn’t my thing, but being a backstage baby helped me later in life, and I figured it was my thing.”

Her grandmother is Teresa Champion, who owns the Teresa Champion dance academy, where she teaches various styles of dance, such as flamenco, ballet and hip-hop.

According to her, her grandmother is considered to be the First Lady of flamenco in San Antonio.

Her mother, Chayito Champion, sings and performs with flamenco-type songs, and her father, “El Curro” Willie Champion, is a flamenco guitarist.

Growing up backstage with her grandmother and mother performing, she said she had to learn how to apply make-up and be professional at a young age.

“Now, I hear people who can’t do their eyeliner or eyelashes, and I’m like ‘How long have you been doing this?’ because they’ve always had it done for them,” she said.

She said she was excited to teach the class because she once was a student on this campus and got a lot from her teachers.

“It’s nice to share that passion with someone else,” she said. “A lot of professors have done that for me.”

In particular, Simpson turned out to be a mentor for her, she said.

“She inspired me to do this,” she said. “It was really hard for me to leave those doors.”

She took modern dance classes on this campus.

During the class, she explained that the students would be wearing modern versions of flamenco dress, which has a simple skirt with a few ruffles on the bottom compared to the traditional Spanish dress with polka dots and big ruffled sleeves and skirts.

“We are going to have a simple, basic dress, that flows very easy,” she said. “Traditional dresses are heavy. We are going to go light because it is a beginner class.”

During the class, she said there will be three dances taught.

The first will be the rumba flamenca, with light music, which has a slower tempo than other flamenco dances.

Second, they will be taught the sevillanas, which is a kind of line-dance.

Third, will be the tango which is not as intense, but more flirtatious and low to the ground.

This will be her first time teaching on this campus, for which she credits Simpson.

They will be performing in the spring concert at 7:30 p.m. May 2 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.

She said she hopes this class will succeed because dance is becoming popular and more accepted in this society.

“It is beginning to be accepted as an art form,” she said. “People don’t understand. Why is music art, but not dance?”

She hopes more people will take the class because she believes anyone can learn how to dance.

“Anyone can learn it, you just have to have passion and drive,” she said. “We are all here for a reason, which is to move forward in our lives.”

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