Drawing by a flamenco artist residency student

Drawing by a flamenco artist residency student

Flamenco IN the Schools: CONNECTING THROUGH FLAMENCO DANCE, MUSIC, & CULTURE

We are passionate about working with kids, about education, and about the way flamenco can connect them. Flamenco is expressive, energetic and playful; rhythmic and percussive; inclusive, cooperative, and multicultural; yet simple enough for individual expression and improvisation. It is ideal for teaching not just the art form, but themes related to Spanish culture, language, cultural diversity, and understanding.

In our educational activities, students gain not only knowledge and appreciation of the flamenco art form but so much more. They inspire and are inspired; they teach and are taught; they challenge and are challenged. Our philosophy is to encourage students to celebrate the uniqueness among individuals, risk the unknown through improvisation, and open themselves to unfamiliar and diverse art forms and peoples.

We bring flamenco to the schools in our Flamenco Artist Residency Program and the Rhythm to Reading Pilot Project.


Flamenco Artist Residency Program

The Flamenco Artist Residency Program was started in 2011. Each year deDanza partners with 5 to 7 Minneapolis and St. Paul K-12 schools to bring the program to their students. The program serves approximately 550 students each year who have direct experience learning from a flamenco artist. In addition, another 800 students and 300 adults and community members attend the community celebrations at the end of each residency.

Every residency is unique. We collaborate with teachers and others who work with the arts learners most to identify the focus and goals for our residency together. Past themes have included Spanish language skills, risk-taking for language learning, math (products and factors), IB learner profile, and cultural tradition. Every day in our residency, arts learners will dance, sing, clap, and stomp – learning flamenco movements and song, joining in a rhythm circle that utilizes call-response and improvisation, and using it all to create a unique group dance. All learners can be good at flamenco! The residency usually culminates in a community celebration where students share what they have learned and created.

Overall students gain a tremendous sense of enjoyment, accomplishment, and success - and a positive arts experience that will leave them more open to diverse arts experiences and cultures in the future.

2016-17 Flamenco Residency Program - School Partners

  • Adams Spanish Immersion (3rd grade)
  • Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School (6th-8th grade Spanish II classes)
  • Linwood Monroe Arts Plus-Monroe Campus (2nd grade)
  • Riverview West Side School of Excellence (1st and 2nd grade)
  • Paul & Sheila Wellstone Elementary (2nd grade)

Past School Partners

  • Aquila Primary Center, St. Louis Park (2010-14)
  • Benjamin E. Mays International Magnet, St. Paul (2011-13)
  • Bryn Mawr Elementary, Minneapolis (2012-14)
  • Eastern Heights Elementary, St. Paul (2012, 2014)
  • Four Seasons Elementary, St. Paul (2012)
  • Main Street Performing Arts High School, Hopkins (2012)
  • Mississippi Creative Arts Magnet, St. Paul (2011, 2013-15)

Ms. Elias gives students an authentic, exciting experience with this unique dance form. She makes flamenco accessible for all the students, and presents the steps in such a way they can be successful immediately, and feel comfortable creating their own choreography. My students loved it and are still talking about it and dancing it!
— Sidney Pudwill, Dance Specialist, Four Seasons A+ Elementary School

Rhythm to Reading Pilot Project

Did you know that 34% of all students in St. Paul Public Schools are learning English for the first time? And almost 25% in Minneapolis Public Schools. They come from all over the globe – Southeast Asia, Central America, East Africa. Many are refugees, and have never attended school at all. To develop language skills comparable to their English-speaking peers, these students have lots to catch up on.

Rhythm to Reading is a new pilot project that uses flamenco to help students learn English. It is being developed by Deborah Elias Danza Española in collaboration with teachers in St. Paul schools who specialize in working with English Language Learners. The pilot project seeks to develop unique activities that combine flamenco with language learning strategies, and discover which are most successful in helping students make progress in acquiring English skills. With the lessons learned, we hope to develop an approach that can be used with English Language Learners across the region.

Flamenco can help. Here's how:

  • Flamenco is rhythm. Research shows that children who are more sensitive to musical rhythm are better able to recognize and break down the different sounds in words, one of the first steps in literacy. In fact, rhythmic ability predicts reading ability from grade 1 to 5! With its clapping and percussive footwork, flamenco embodies rhythm. Kids love to repeat and memorize patterns, or make up their own!
  • Flamenco is engaging. Flamenco’s energetic and playful nature draws students in. Students are able to connect with the teacher and each other in a way that doesn’t depend on spoken language.
  • Flamenco is success. All students are able to be successful learning flamenco. This sense of accomplishment is especially valuable for students who have a harder time being successful in the classroom.

Students were enthralled with the rhythm, expression, and creativity that Flamenco dance offers. The instruction was phenomenal.
— Adrianne Johnson, Spanish Teacher, Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School

support our educational work

We would love to have your support for these educational programs! Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to Deborah Elias Danza Española. You can do so here.