There are many things about Flamenco for Kids which I had to consider; firstly the question of what was it, exactly? This program is a weird amalgamation of a performance and a workshop, run by excellent musicians and performers who are not necessarily teachers or educators. But Flamenco for Kids must make an impact as I was sat among 30 or so little girls, most of whom showed up already in costume, many of whom were returning from gracing the stage at last year’s Fringe. The event/workshop/performance didn’t start with a bang but a strange, tepid introduction explaining that there were dresses for the girls and hats for the boys, and that Flamenco comes from Spain. This was followed by a brief but masterful performance of Flamenco guitar and Cajon drum box, during which the percussionist was revealed to also be our dancer and instructor for the day.
The next 45 minutes were a strange combination of teaching and kid wrangling, with almost no involvement at all for the many parents who were there, admittedly snapping photos at random intervals to capture the moment. We learned about Tango hands and rhythmic marching, clapping loud and soft, but there was not much real meat to the history, drama or meaning of Flamenco.
This show has everything - drama, laughter, tears, heartbreak - but mostly that was the result of having 35 kids, ranging in age from two to twelve, attempting to follow our steadfast dancer and our Flamenco guitarist, whose passion for music and enthusiasm for teaching carry through the chaos of the program. Though there isn’t a listed age restriction, I would recommend this for children ages five and above as participants really must be able to follow directions and mimic without much guidance.
At last, having built the skills into a cohesive piece, the performance began, with lights, music, bright costumes, a bit of wandering from the wee tiny ones and a lot of tears from a sudden onset of stage fright. LCD screens lit up the room and, despite myself, I could not help but laugh and enjoy this awesome adorableness which I’m sure would be far more satisfying were one of the performers on the stage was my own. Flamenco for Kids is not a perfect show; it is not a great educational experience; but it is a good time, a first opportunity to take the stage and, I’m sure, in about ten to fifteen years, some really rockin’ Mommy blackmail material for a meet-the-parents first date.