We’re so excited to be sharing our next Power of Dance in Lockdown Article with you, this time showcasing the work of Mercedes Romero. Mercedes is a professional Flamenco dancer, teacher and choreographer who graduated from the Conservatoire of Alicante, Spain, in Spanish Dance & Flamenco and Classical Ballet. Mercedes States “I have performed and taught for over 25 years, performing in Spain, Mexico, France, Italy and England with various dance companies such as Ballet Teatro Español de Rafael Aguilar, Ballet Español y Flamenco Martin Vargas, Ballet de Carmen Mota, Ballet titular Teatro de la Zarzuela and Teatro de la Maestranza, to name a few.”.
In Plymouth Mercedes teaches regular Flamenco classes and workshops and performs at various theatres and venues throughout the South West with her group and with Flamenco Amigos. Mercedes reflects “Maybe you recognise me from performing at some Barbican Theatre productions such as “Put on your red shoes”, “Fierce” and “Civic”. Also, I teach at Open Circle for Fuse Diverse Dance/Barbican Theatre.” Further from this Mercedes also describes that she actively collaborates with community dance projects and Festivals, performing and teaching Flamenco. She shares “I really enjoy working with Plymouth Dance, Plymouth Respect Festival, Callington MayFest and Freedom Community Festival.”. When sharing about the content of Mercedes facilitation she shares “I always strive to make my lessons and performances dynamic and to engage with the audience. I dance a mix of traditional and modern Flamenco to demonstrate the roots, style and technique of this varied and passionate dance.”.
When reflecting on the first national lockdown Mercedes reflected that all Scheduled performances, classes and workshops needed to be cancelled, stating “It was devastating to see how all my effort from many years of work vanished overnight.”. Mercedes didn’t let this stop her though, stating that “with the support of my lovely students, friends and family that encouraged me to continue, I adapted to the difficult situation. So, very soon after I started to do lessons online via Zoom. I had to learn very quickly new skills to organise and deliver Flamenco lessons online.”. Alongside everyone transitioning to Zoom, Mercedes also quickly found that “I had to become proficient with a video camera, lighting, sound and editing software. I was confident of the Flamenco content I was delivering however I was unsure of whether my IT skills were up to the job of managing the ZOOM technology and all that goes with it…”. Mercedes reflected that she was fortunate to receive a couple of different bursaries from Peninsula Dance Partnership to purchase some equipment to help deliver these online lessons and performances. Mercedes also shared that Plymouth Dance also provided me with support through business coaching sessions, reflecting on this support she stated “So thank you very much to these organisations that are there to support the local dance community and freelancers like me.”
As we transition back to face to face classes and away from as much online engagement Mercedes says “I am now so happy to go back to face to face classes and it’s so lovely to see all the students in 3D…”. Mercedes recognises alongside this transition, covid measures do not come without their own challenges with one element of this meaning a greater workload of administration with new risk assessments, track & trace forms and social distancing measures to now consider on top of the previous workload. Currently Mercedes delivers both Zoom and face to face Flamenco classes “which I love and students appreciate the work.”.
Mercedes reflected that a big highlight throughout the past year was being offered a commission to perform a Flamenco piece and teach a workshop at this year’s Respect Festival that was delivered virtually this year due to Covid restrictions. To prepare for this Mercedes held some private sessions online via Zoom to teach the choreography and rehearse with the dancers before having the opportunity to have one final face to face rehearsal before being filmed by FOTONOW. Reflecting on this process Mercedes said “It was a bit difficult but great to be able to see everyone digitally and to connect to each other. The performance was filmed by a professional team who were so nice and had such a positive approach. It was awesome to work and connect with these art professionals on the day of the filming. I hope to work with them in the near future.”.
If you would like to catch Mercedes workshop and performance for Respect Festival you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0LvZ1A-wRU
Mercedes describes the groups’ performance stating “This dance piece has been inspired by my desire to return to dancing flamenco in front of an audience and to remind me of my Spanish culture that I have missed so much throughout this pandemic.”.
Alongside this Mercedes shared that the Barbican Theatre also commissioned Open Circle to create a performance piece that was a fusion between 3 different dance styles; Flamenco, Contemporary and Bharatanatyam. This piece was created online by the three dance practitioners, where Mercedes describes them fusing the 3 styles into 1 choreography, designed the costumes, wrote about our dance styles, made an activity pack for the dance students and taught part of the choreography to these students online. Mercedes reflected on this process stating “It was great to be able to connect with other dance and theatre artists and students digitally, rehearse face to face and film the performance at the theatre. All of this adhering to social distancing, but our spirits remained high and we were so excited to be able to continue to dance and feel happy despite the difficult times and the Covid restrictions.”.
If you would like to get involved in some of Mercedes Flamenco work, get in touch via the options below: