Printer Friendly

THE SPANISH DANCE SOCIETY.

Enthusiasm is everywhere!" That's how Marina Keet describes the international reaction to the Spanish Dance Society syllabus, which refines the components of Spanish dance into a graded teaching method. The opus originally appeared soon after Keet and others founded the Society some thirty-five years ago in South Africa. The syllabus is so prevalent there that even Keet doesn't know the extent of its reach. She herself brought it to Washington, D.C., in 1982, when she began putting Americans on the path to SDS teacher certification. "It has spread to the U.K., where we have 30 teachers and 800 to 1,000 exam candidates per year; Spain with 25 teachers across the country, including the Balearic Isles, and 500 to 800 candidates; Greece; Italy; Malta; Cyprus; Australia; New Zealand; and Brazil. Thailand, Germany, and Holland are new centers. A teacher in Sri Lanka wants to introduce it there," she said.

Marina Keet discovered Spanish dance as a ballet student in London, where she heard a pair of castanets, followed the sound, and opened the door of Elsa Brunelleschi's studio. Eventually she would cull a vast Spanish repertoire from many sources, but first she went home to teach, perform, and stage for two decades the dances she had learned with Brunelleschi in London, Emma Maleras in Barcelona, La Quica in Madrid, and Realito in Seville.

South Africa might seem an unlikely place for an Iberian tradition to flourish, but Keet found herself among kindred souls, mainly veterans of Spanish touring troupes, concerned with teaching and performance standards. Using the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus as a model and pooling the best of what they had learned in Spain--from such icons as Mercedes and Albano, Juanjo Linares, Pedro Azorin, Enrique el Cojo, and Juan Urbeltz--they compiled six junior, three senior, and three teacher's levels of graduated technique and choreographies covering flamenco, regional dances, and the escuela bolera, Spain's version of classical ballet. The package includes tapes and a theory text.

Other than the escuela, which in the nineteenth century was organized into a syllabus by the Pericet family (whose scions now teach their heritage in Buenos Aires and Madrid), Spanish dance is commonly learned via choreography. Traditionally, rows of students follow behind a teacher, imitating as best they can. Rarely is anything counted or broken down; except for the escuela, the steps don't even have names. So the SDS syllabus was truly innovative. You might quibble with the terminology (I do), but everything is accurately notated, down to the musical count. Classes follow set exercises in castanets (perhaps the syllabus' strongest feature), arms, footwork, turns, variations on pas de basques, palmas (clapped rhythms), and choreography combinations.

Each level includes a copla (verse) of the sevillanas, the most popular Spanish dance. The syllabus contains all four of the well-known regional verses and the three from the escuela, which are not commonly taught. (Castanets do not follow a set pattern; the student is free to improvise.) In third grade, the escuela is introduced; by fifth grade, students have enough technique to master the escuela choreography, Ole de la Curra, as well as the regional Rapsodia Valenciana, tangos to cante, and a contemporary choreography to Joaquin Turina's Sacromonte. Recent developments include conformation of all escuela work to the Pericets' legacy; full Spanish translations; and a parallel all-flamenco syllabus with contratiempo (counter-rhythm), bulerias (a rhythmically complex, extroverted flamenco genre), and other focused flamenco work replacing the escuela and regional sections. "Most dancers and teachers do both lines, original and flamenco, because they love them and will need to teach both" Keet reported.

When Keet departed for London in 1994, she left her classes with Nancy Sedgwick, organizer of SDS-USA; Lourdes Elias, artistic director of the Spanish Dance Theater; and Jaime Coronado, then on tour with the Jose Greco troupe, who now shares the artistic directorship with Elias. They teach the syllabus at Sedgwick and Elias's Oxford Academy of Dance, George Washington University, and Baltimore's Peabody Preparatory, among other venues. Sedgwick travels abroad to examine students, and all three gather with the clans every summer to teach the London course that offers new material and the chance to brush up. "Now I'd like to see growth within the U.S.," said Sedgwick. "Marina taught us so much about all types of Spanish dance--the style, the history, the nuances. It's enriching to share her generosity."
COPYRIGHT 2001 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:DURBIN, PAULA
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Words:728
Previous Article:FLAMENCO: FROM PURO TO NUEVO.
Next Article:FESTIVAL FLAMENCO INTERNACIONAL.
Topics:


Related Articles
Ballet Hispanico.
Letter from Spain.
A time for Spain.
Scottish Country Dancing Has a Young Soul.
SANTANA STEPS INTO THE RING.
SANTANA STEPS INTO THE RING.
BALLET FLAMENCO DE ANTONIO CANALES.
FLAMENCO: FROM PURO TO NUEVO.
HIGH SCHOOL DANCERS STEP INTO CULTURE AND CONFIDENCE.
Flamenco coverage praised. (Readers' Forum).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters