Flamenco Tulsa is made up of so many interesting and wonderful people that we wanted to periodically "spotlight" a person who has meant a lot to the Flamenco Tulsa community. Frieda Vereecken is a dedicated flamenco "aficionada" and a beloved member of the Flamenco Tulsa community. I have personally known Frieda for over fifteen years have always found her to be such an interesting lady. In addition to flamenco, Frieda has studied, performed and taught many different types of folkloric and traditional styles of dance including Danse Orientale and North African, among others. I asked her to tell us a bit about her journey with flamenco.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Now from Tulsa, originally from Ghent, Belgium and Luxemburg.
Q: How did you first hear about flamenco?
A: The first time I heard Flamenco music was on one of my Mother's Polydor LP of Sabicas, Mario Escudero and Co, and Anita Ramos (dancer), then I saw many snippets of dancers in old movies. The music spoke to me immediately and the poor record got played over and over; still have it!).
Q: How long have you studied flamenco?
A: I never had a chance to start studying flamenco until I got to Tulsa and I started (I think in 1997) with a small local group. I got totally hooked and continued studying it off and on since by taking classes here in Tulsa, attending Workshops, Festivals and on a trip to Jerez two years ago!
Q: What is your favorite flamenco element (ie. guitar, dance, song)?
A: I am getting more and more interested in the Cante , and especially the Cante Jondo (maybe because of my age?).
Q: Who are some of your favorite flamenco artists?
A: I would be hard pressed to name my favorite singers and dancers and guitarists, both male and female; they all bring something to the art form.
Q: What is your favorite flamenco palo (ie. Bulerias, Tango, Soleares) and why?
A: The more I study Flamenco the more there is to know, and I have come to realize there is so much to it. I am not sure I can pick one palo or another that I prefer over the other, but Bulerias , Solea and Alegrias come to mind. Bulerias because of the festive aspect, being danced in the streets often impromptu as I experienced in Jerez. Alegrias expressing happiness and is often danced with a bata de cola, which I love. The solea, because of its depth.
Q: Why do you continue your study of flamenco?
A: Why do I study Flamenco? I started because I loved the fieriness and expressiveness of the music, song and dance, and I wanted to learn a physical vocabulary to be able to express different emotions. I think the older you get the more it speaks to you because the of the range of life experiences that are expressed. On a very personal note, even the little I know has helped me so much in dealing with the grief after the death of my mother and husband in the same year.
Besides, let's not forget the great physical benefits as well; works probably all the muscles in your body and develops stamina.
It is one of those things you either get "hooked" on or it doesn't speak to you. I know very few people who are totally neutral where this art form is concerned. More than an art form, it is also a way of life.
Frieda performing at Reflejos Flamencos Pasion y Poesia performance at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Frieda taking palmas class in Jerez.
Frieda with flamenco friends at Summer Stage launch party.