What Writers Can Learn From Flamenco

Creativity through dance is fascinating when writing is our main form of expression. Here are some lessons learned for writers from Spanish flamenco dancing.

  • Know the tradition that lies behind and within you. Flamenco is native to Andalusia in Spain with Gypsy, Sephardic Jew, Moorish and Byzantine influences. It is beautiful to see old people dance it as well as the women in their prime and the young girls who learn the skills. There is a vast tradition behind the movements of flamenco as well as the songs that are sung with it. For writers, we have a great tradition behind us that we need to be aware of. We need to know the rules and the past in order to bring our words to life on the page.
  • Extemporize from that tradition to find your personal expression. For dancers, this is your style of flamenco, for authors, this is your voice and writing style. Once you know the tradition, you can express yourself within it and use creativity in your own way. Flamenco dancers seem to go with the music, almost as a jazz band improvises as the music moves. Each time they perform it would be a little different. As writers, we need to know where we are coming from and the rules of our genre, and then we can go out from there to a place of originality.
  • Use your passion and your personal power. Flamenco is incredibly empowering to watch and to dance. It exudes pride and power, a separation of the artist from those who watch. The expression is usually serious and the movements compelling with authority. This is a dancer that knows their worth. As writers, we definitely use our passion to write but sometimes that power can be missing. We need to reclaim that, to be unapologetic in the ability to express and create. No one can take that from you, whatever their judgement.
  • Have a varied repertoire. Flamenco is best known for the stamping of feet, the fast tapping and grand movements but there are also slow dances, almost mournful in their experience. The songs and flamenco guitar are spine tingling in emotion. For writers, we must also have this full range of skill both in writing, and also in all the other areas of a writer’s life these days, like marketing and promotion.
  • Celebrate each other with Ole! When watching flamenco, it is part of the experience for the audience and other participants to shout ‘Ole!’ and other encouragements, and clap during the performance. It is an interjection like applause and acts as a spur to the dancer to move faster. As writers, we don’t have much applause in our daily writing lives so we can learn from this to try to encourage each other further, to spur each other on to greater things.

It is important to get out there and live a life that is worth writing about. Watching or even dancing flamenco is an experience that will challenge most people and spark new ideas. Have you found inspiration in a dance or other physical form of creativity?

 

This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.

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