In learning Flamenco dance your mirror is your BFF. Without a mirror to practice in front of, you have absolutely no way of knowing if you are doing something correctly or incorrectly. Could you imagine putting on makeup without a mirror? You may have done it a million times, but try and do it without a mirror just once! That’s just asking for trouble.
Unlike social dance (not competitive social dancing), Flamenco dance (which is not a social dance) absolutely requires that you learn in front of a mirror and go home and practice in front of a mirror to learn proper technique. Otherwise, you are just copying what you think your instructor did; you have no way of knowing if you are copying it right or wrong. And I’m not referring to the steps you learned, I am referring to the technique you’ve learned.
If you’ve read my previous article "B is for Braceo", you will know how important arm and hand technique is, especially for women. As a beginning student you can’t yet "feel" if your arms are in the correct position, or your body placement is correct, you have to “see” it. “Seeing is believing!”
(A minor digression here: a mirror is also very important when learning to play Flamenco guitar!)
Your mirror also helps you build confidence. As you see your technique progress from beginner to advanced dancer, as you learn to take your eyes off your instructor and focus them only on you, you start to develop an air of confidence, which is projected as power when you are on stage.
If your instructor does not teach you in front of a mirror, it will be very difficult to learn proper Flamenco technique. I have, unfortunately, had to turn down teaching some workshops because the facility did not have mirrors. But, if you do not have a mirror at home, there really is an easy fix for that. Simply go to a home improvement store or your local discount-mart and get a door mirror. They’re under $10 and you can store it behind or under something and prop it wherever you need it (preferably in front of your practice floor!).
Adults need mirrors, children need mirrors. Everyone learning Flamenco dance needs a mirror.
If you look closely at this little Flamenca’s eyes, you will notice that she is not looking me, her instructor. She is looking at herself to make sure she is doing her step correctly. Once you look at your instructor, figure out what you are supposed to do, and then look away from your instructor and directly at yourself. I highly recommend learning to look right into your own eyes. For some people that is really hard to do; but once you start to make deep eye contact with that amazing dancer in the mirror, great things will begin to happen for you in Flamenco!
But your mirror is only for learning. Once you have practiced your technique over and over, it is time to leave the mirror behind and start to dance without it. Turn your back on it, ignore it. Know that all your practice has resulted in great technique and just dance. Dance for fun, dance from the heart. And when you are on stage, focus your eyes above the heads of the audience, to the back of the room, and picture your own eyes looking back at you – the mirror of your heart - now you are truly dancing for yourself!