What the Heck is Fake Flamenco?

So glad you’ve asked. When deciding on a website name three years ago, I knew I had the right one when it made me chortle; Fake Flamenco. It was a week before a writers’ conference and my memoir professor proclaimed, you *will* have a website. My eyebrows raised, I *will*? I wonder how I’ll do that? Finding a platform was easy, but an unique title was more difficult. How could I capture my Spanish interest, travel, passion, creativity, and imperfection in a name? The two words I chose represent my history and my way of life.

The story began when I saw the Carlos Saura film Carmen for the first time; the flamenco version of the classic opera. I was 18. As my Spanish classmates and I watched the TV with VCR, the dancers onscreen were smoldering and going up in flames. That evening my first year of college, a flamenco spark entered my heart.

The next year’s Spanish class, we were asked to present reports. I chose flamenco. I decided to combine descriptions of the dance in Spanish with a short demonstration. I had absolutely no background or experience in flamenco. That didn’t deter me in the least. That’s where bluster comes in. I dressed the part; a blouse, and skirt with an eyelet petticoat underneath. I didn’t play music or have the class clap the rhythm. I just went for it, creating the beat with my feet, lifting and shaking my skirts, ending with an arm curved above my head and a hearty ¡Olé! My favorite part was when our Peruvian professor asked me where I’d learned the flamenco. Carlos Saura taught me everything I know… thus my Fake Flamenco was born.

Flamenco Dancer Art: Jasmina El Bouamraoui and Karabo Poppy Moletsane

Sadly, decades later I have not attended a flamenco class. I had the chance when I studied in Spain, but I was too broke to afford it. Okay, I spent all my pesetas on clothes and Spanish tapas. But, here in Madison during dinner preparations, I dance my kitchen flamenco and it makes me happy. Listening to legendary cantaor (flamenco singer) Carmen Linares, I twirl my wrists above my head, lower an arm and say olé! Although she doesn’t know it, she and I sing flamenco duets in the car on errands.

I think that writing, blogging, and publishing books is a lot like Fake Flamenco. I’ll keep pretending until I reach my goals and have my memoir in your hands.

I’ll pretend I can, until I do. ¡Olé! –Rebecca

P.S. Where in your life does “fake it until you make it” come in handy?

Rebecca Cuningham

32 thoughts on “What the Heck is Fake Flamenco?

  1. This was extremely interesting! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the backstory behind your blog name. I’m amazed that you were brave enough to stand up in front of your class and give a demonstration with no music or clapped out rhythym! Just ‘going for it’ is great advice and what you do when you’re really passionate about something. I’m so happy that you were able to find something that gave you that passion ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post, Rebecca. I think a lot of us who are teachers feel like we’re faking it when we first step in a classroom. Eventually it feels natural, but not at first, at least for me it wasn’t. Learning a foreign language also feels like faking it, sometimes for many years. Saludos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love this! The journey of how your site came to be, your twists and turns through the years, and now dancing in your kitchen. Beautiful and inspiring! 💃🏼 I love this dance, and living in the SW I have been fortunate to see many performances through the years. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your back-story with us and I take my hat off to you for performing a dance you hadn’t been taught to a roomful of strangers. I’m a lover of flamenco, have been since I first saw it performed in Spain in the caves of Sacramonte in Granada where the gypsies lived. Nowadays this is very touristy but when we were there in the early 60s it was the real thing, raw, passionate, and filled with the spirit of cante jondo. We sat around a fire in the cave drinking very rough wine from early evening until well into the morning and left there drained, but left as lifelong devotees of the art of flamenco and the cante hondo. I never miss a chance to see the dancing when I’m in Spain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, Mari. Sounds very exciting to see real flamenco live in the caves of Granada. I think that kind of cante jondo is increasingly rare. I appreciate your kind words. Olé!


  5. I appreciate learning about the backstory of your blog name! I figured it was obvious from the “Flamenco” part, as your blog is about Spanish/Latin American culture, although I was stumped with the “Fake” part…now I know! “Fake it until you make it” comes in handy in many aspects of life, especially for me when it comes to getting past social anxiety and pretending to be outgoing/life of the party to make friends. It has helped!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that story, Rebecca! How brave of you to dance in from of your Spanish class in college! I think I would have been laughed off campus if I’d tried that. My hat’s off to you.

    I feel like a fake when I pass out my business card that reads, “Janet Morrison, Writer.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, thanks for your comments. I would like to see a video now of how the dance turned out, because I think my lack of knowledge on the subject protected me. Beginner’s luck. I’m happy that your card says writer. That’s awesome. You are a good one from what I’ve read. Olé!


  7. I’m sure Carmen is delighted to be in those car duets! Fake it until you make it was one of the life tips our high school principal left us with. Comes in handy when you doubt yourself or are nervous (hello job interviews).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi – that was fun to imagine you dancing and making the music as you went – so raw and so free
    and maybe one day you will get those lessons
    and when I taught art – sometimes in January we had Spanish Guitar month – we played Spanish guitar music – studied Cubism (and connected them to the standards for that month) and created art pieces with oil pastels – and some also made little castanets – – take a small cardboard strip and glue buttons to each end – they work so well – 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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