Eunice Kim, cub writer
In the early 1980s Spanish teacher Señora Susan Schneider’s life was changed by a movie. Sra. Schneider watched the Flamenco dance movie Carmen, which is an opera written by Georges Bizet. As she watched it, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She was glued to her seat, as she watch with amazement. Soon after that day, Sra. Schneider decided that she must learn the Flamenco dance.
Flamenco dance is the cultural expression of the gypsies from Andalusia, also known as the south of Spain. This dance combines guitar, castanets, palmas, or hand clapping, song, and dance. After she made her decision to learn Flamenco dance, she started taking lessons in Los Angeles with Linda Vega, who is a teacher with many years of experience.
“My teacher had many many years of experience,” said Sra. Schneider. “Also, I have taken lots of workshops and visited many Spanish artists.”
Sra. Schneider still dances today with people she has become very close with over the years. They get together for juergas, which is a party. However, a lot of the people Sra. Schneider is very close with do not live in the same area anymore. Even with that obstacle in her way, Sra. Schneider still tries to stay connected with the Flamenco community.
“ I saw her do Flamenco dance, and she is a beautiful Flamenco dancer,” said Madame Irina Kashper, a French teacher that is one of Sra. Schneider’s close friends. “ [She’s] very passionate, and very accomplished.”
Sra, Schneider does not keep her Flamenco dancing to herself. Instead, she shares it with students in her classes. When students take exams or quizzes, Sra. Schneider makes everyone do one of her Flamenco dance moves before passing the test behind in order to make them more relaxed. She waves her arms here and there, and students copy it with their arms. After several seconds, she makes a sign that mean, pass the test behind.
“ I think that dance and music are really important part of the culture and the language,” said Sra. Schneider. “Students know that we study poetry, dance and rhythms as much as we possibly can. It brings the language to life.”
Sra. Schneider teaches not only Spanish, but she has also taught several students Flamenco to dance. These students went on to become very serious dancers. She has taught Flamenco dance workshops..Dance teachers have even asked her to teach them to Flamenco. Sra. Schneider has performed with the group of dancers called Espiritu Andaluz, which means Andalusian spirit.
“We performed many times in Los Angeles at many different events,” said Sra. Schneider. “We performed at churches, parties, shows where we got invited to perform.”
Sra. Schneider’s family also can dance. Her children are very familiar with palmas and certain dance elements of Flamenco. Even with her busy life as a Spanish Honors teacher, Sra. Schneider wishes that future generation will love to dance Flamenco as much as she did when she first saw Carmen.