If you’re going to come study in Spain,you’d better bring your dancing shoes! Not just for the clubs and nightlife that can run until seven in the morning, but for a uniquelySevillian tradition that the International College of Seville has put together for its students. Though not a requirement, the school highly encourages students to participate in this FREE biweekly night class taught by instructors with over 40 years of dance experience. While everybody that completes the course enjoys themselves, some students bring their past dance skills to the table and really light up the dance floor. As to not overflow the studio with all 34 students enrolled at ICS this semester, they break it up into two groups so one learns in February and the other in March.
A stone’s throw away from the college’s front steps is the Rocío Albéniz dance studio. The instructors, Jose and Rocío, are locals that have experience in several dance styles including Ballet, but are more specialized in traditional styles like Flamenco. In a small room with 16 people trying to learn footwork and hand motions, it can be hard enough to try and lead a class. The fact that Jose did not speak English and more than half the class didn’t speak Spanish, didn’t stop the universal language of music and dance from overcoming that barrier. By the end, both instructors were very proud and told all of us to give out his card if we were stopped and asked where we learned how to do this very Spanish dance.
Las Sevillanas, translated literally to The Sevillians, is a dance that itself is truly beautiful and has its roots in Flamenco. Performed in pairs and in line, the women wear long dresses and the men, slim suits. Both wear tacones which are essentially tap shoes with a small heel. The men’s version is more of a boot but for most Spaniards, a solid golpe, or stomp, is enough to get the desired sound from the floor. I personally did Ballet Folklórico in High School, which best would to described as Mexican Folk Tap dance, and found this style very familiar. By the end of the 8 sessions, the students were ready tobust out their moves at The April Fair.
The dance class is offered for students in both Fall, Spring and Summer semesters, but the Spring is when it really makes a big difference. Coming up in May, ironically, is going to be the April Fair, or Feria de Abril. This Sevilla specific event is recognized all over the world and takes place on the fairgrounds located just on the other side of the river from where the ICS is located. The fair includes carnival rides, purebred horse with ornate carriages, food, drinking and plenty of music for dancing thenight away. The weeklong celebration is the most typical event students could participate in and having the ability to dance with the locals during it is definitely an exciting idea. The week before Feria, the ICS is going to hold a review class for everyone to practice the steps and get the timing to cross their partner sharpened up. But more important than the specific steps themselves, as our instructor Jose told us, “Las Sevillanas las tienes que sentir, no solo tomar los pasos.” or “You have to feel the Sevillanas, not just go through the steps.” And he also assured us, that after a few cups of Manzanilla we, nor anybody else, would really care how you were dancing, as long as you were dancing. Olé!