The stomp of a heel. The click of castanets. The artful flick of a ruffled skirt. These are some of the sounds and images which flood the mind when we first think about Flamenco. For this #TraditionsTuesday we meet Huron, Ohio, artist Alice Blumenfeld, an OAC Individual Excellence Award winner and artistic director of ABREPASO Flamenco. Flamenco, she explains, is so much more than the woman in the red dress—it’s even more than simply a form of dance. It is a full and rich culture all its own. Historically rooted in the desire for freedom within the marginalized communities of Southern Spain, Flamenco culture—its music, poetry, aesthetic, and yes, dance—is about personal expression and a fearless devotion to being true to oneself. It comes from the people and, Blumenfeld insists, is best experienced in the small, intimate settings for which it was first intended. But that doesn’t mean that she and her fellow artists at ABREPASO are just rehashing the greatest hits of this traditional artform. Far from it; in fact, she is expanding the very idea of Flamenco. WATCH: Flamenco is a language | Alice Blumenfeld | TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica Video by TEDx Talks Flamenco evolves like language because it is essentially a conversation improvised between musician and dancer. Each artist must understand the structure and forms rooted in the tradition, but the actual performance experience is full of improvisation and personal expression. A dancer since the age of 3, Blumenfeld began her study of Flamenco when she was 12 after attending the International Flamenco Festival in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Swept up in the energy of the dance, she had what Flamenco artists describe as “Duende”—an almost out-of-body experience brought forth through the art. Today, Blumenfeld chases that same experience for her audiences and fellow artists, choreographing conceptual pieces with modern audiences in mind. By combining the traditional improvisational framework with post-modern choreographic methods and styles, Blumenfeld doesn’t just tiptoe past the generic and stereotypical—she stomps all over it. Take up the #TraditionTuesday: EXPAND: Visit aliceblumenfeld.com or abrepaso.org to learn more about flamenco, Alice Blumenfeld, and ABREPASO Flamenco. EXPERIENCE: Upcoming performances of ABREPASO Flamenco can be found in the Cleveland area, often at the Julia De Borgas Cultural Center. Visit the ABREPASO website or Facebook page for the schedule. Their next performance is a fundraiser for the organization. Tickets and information are available here: abrepaso.org/special-events/fall-fundraiser-online EXPLORE: ABREPASO offers classes in person and via Zoom, so you can learn flamenco wherever you are! Take a look at their fall class schedule here: abrepaso.org/calendar/classes Learn more about the OAC’s Individual Excellence Awards at rebrand.ly/oac-iea-grants ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook , follow us on Twitter , or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov . ### Article by Amy Ruggaber, Ohio Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Contractor Featured photo: Alice Blumenfeld. Photo by Luis Pons.