Fresh and uplifted from our Taipei workshops, we'll be heading to Australia in just a couple of weeks. I was glad that Margaret Cheung of Hong Kong could join us in Taipei and I share her reflections here:
"Flamenco workshop with Maestro Manuel Betanzos is like having a serious talk with your best friend: someone who wants the best for you and will not hesitate to tell you the truth purely for your own good, no matter how ugly it is. Sometimes it hurts but you know the truth will set you free and you will be better for it. His workshop is for those who are serious about flamenco, not those who only want choreography for performance, because he doesn't just teach choreography. He teaches you to be bold, to be individual, to be expressive, to confront your fears, to step out of your comfort zone, and to breakdown stereotypes.
Manuel's dedication to teaching is rare among star-level teachers. Many people teach but few are able to tell you exactly what you need to hear. He pegged me exactly for what I am. It's scary and very humbling. But because he speaks the truth, you know it can only be good for you. Five years since the first time I studied with him and I am still amazed by his teaching methodology and how he touches people. I still remember the lessons from the first workshop I took from him, which was "Enjoy the Buleria".
Things I learned from Manuel Betanzos' Flamenco Workshop:
Your likes and loves change with age and experience. You don't need to copy anyone's style, but learn from them and develop your own. When you get to a certain age with certain physical restrictions, you can do things a certain way - YOUR way. It is not necessary to do what's "popular" out there. If you don't feel it, don't dance it. Every time you dance, you must feel it and live it. There is no such thing as doing nothing. When you are still, you are still living. Fear nothing. Claim your spot in the centre. Claim the attention... if you deserve it! Listen and be aware of what's around you. Let that inspire and influence you. Know where the root of the movement comes from and move from there. Be natural. Don't force anything. Be crazy. Don't be tied down by aesthetics. Be yourself. Don't copy others. Be aware. Listen to the guitar and cante. Have thicker skin. Don't be ashamed of your mistakes. Just learn from them. By the same token, don't laugh at others. Chances are, you also make the same mistakes."