La Escuela de Baile is the largest flamenco school in the UK. Currently based in Chalk Farm it was previously in Camden and Kings Cross and attracts over 200 students: right now the youngest is four and the oldest over sixty.
Quite the flamenco underbelly of the capital, the school attracts a stunningly diverse range of Londoners who probably don't admit they head off after work to put on big skirts and flowers in their hair (not mandatory... and not for the blokes either). Flamenco is brilliant for fitness and even for those with two left feet. You get to throw off the rest of the day and just settle and learn.
Every few years the school books a theatre to put on a show which pretty much includes everyone in the school and gives them the experience of what it is like to perfect something for public display. All the students have to buy their own costumes, figure out make up, and learn the dances through and through.The show provides a good chance to see a wide range of traditional flamenco styles, ranging from the happy fan-waving Caracoles, to the intense and solemn Siguiriya. as well as excerpts choreographed from films in a flamenco style.
This year, it's at the Peacock Theatre, under the Sadlers Wells umbrella. So if you never been to their Flamenco Festival - or if you caught it and loved it - check out Escuela de Baile this weekend with over 100 student dancers and musicians plus guest artists. Inspired and got itchy castanets? Find out about signing up for a class to learn how, now.
By Ayesha Garrett
Catch Escuela de Baile at the Peacock Theatre this Saturday and Sunday at 7.30pm. Tickets £17-22.