Updated: Nov 24, 2020
The Dance for All Bodies organization has recently conducted interviews with its instructors Alicia Langlais, Antoine Hunter, Janpi Star, Clara Rodriguez, Auti Angel, and Stephanie Bastos. Each instructor brings a unique perspective and experience to the world of integrated dance. During this 6 week series, the Dance for All Bodies blog will feature one instructor interview on Saturdays.
Clara Rodriguez is artistic director and founder of AguaClara Flamenco, based in Oakland, CA. She has been training and working professionally in the flamenco world for nearly 30 years, and has since been a featured soloist in productions throughout the United States, Spain, Portugal and India.
In 2018 she became Adjunct Faculty at UC Berkeley teaching flamenco dance. She currently holds regular dance classes in Oakland and also offers workshops outside the Bay Area. She has been working for the past 3 years with the flamenco guitar program at Central High School in Fresno, CA. A lifelong musician in addition to her dance career, Clara is a classically trained pianist and holds a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in Ethnomusicology.
During an interview with Dance for All Bodies, in her own words, Clara Rodriguez describes her background with dance and how through personal expression, Flamenco can be adapted for all bodies.
“My name is Clara Rodriguez and I am from Southern California. I live in Oakland, California in the Bay Area, and I have been here since 2010. As a little kid, where I grew up, there's a big community of Flamenco dance schools. I actually started dancing Flamenco at a young age and it just took hold. It is a very living, breathing, evolving art form, so I feel like there's always something different happening. Somebody is always creating something new and there's like a whole vocabulary that's always being added to. It is very exciting as well.
I think I try to cover different elements in my class. Like I said, Flamenco is a dance form, but it is also a musical form and it is also cultural. It comes from a specific place, in a specific culture in history. I like to even in a beginner class, of course we are primarily focusing on dance, but there is going to be an element where I might take a second and talk about the music we are listening to, or what the context of that music is for the dance form that we're learning. I think you can expect that the class will not only be a dance class, but that there will be certain elements of music education and cultural education related to Flamenco.
The cool thing about Flamenco is that it’s a personal expression for one, so there’s not one right way or wrong way, there’s a lot of room for individual interpretation. Depending on how much movement we are doing, a movement could be modified in any number of ways that is comfortable on every person’s body. I really love it in that because we’re focusing on the upper body, it has made me realize, even though I knew it anyway, how much variation there is in just the way we use our hands and the same movement can be done in a different direction. There’s an infinite variety that we can call on in our Flamenco. Also I like that we get to play with a lot of different things: different kinds of hand movements, different kinds of arm movements, different rhythms. I think it is just fun that there is so much variety: different dances, different rhythms, different intentions, different styles. It is so obvious that we all dance and we all move and we all have that desire to do that. Dance for All Bodies is recognizing that and saying, ‘hey, we’re all doing this.’
What I love about Flamenco and what I hope that my students get from it is that there’s a huge range of human emotions that I feel like Flamenco accesses. It’s sort of the fun, the seductive, the dramatic, the playful, the serious, and the kind humorous. There’s so many different ways of expressing and I feel like Flamenco in different styles really does allow for that. It is accessing those emotions and expressing them with music. And it is to make it fun; of course it has to be fun otherwise why would we do it?”
Thank you Clara Rodriguez for teaching with Dance for All Bodies and for supporting us in accessing personal expression, emotions, music, and culture through your Flamenco classes. We appreciate your inclusiveness and fun-loving nature.