Once a week, resident Leah Keane gets to stomp her feet as loud as she wants for as long as she can.
Keane, 49, is among a handful of other women who attend flamenco classes each Monday at , where students get the chance to tap—literally and figuratively—into their inner confidence and dance around the room like a "proud peacock."
"I really enjoy it. I tell my children that it's very therapeutic because I get to stomp my feet," she said, stomping along with her comment.
The dance originated in southern Spain, said Jelena Sanchez, who teaches both flamenco and Spanish at the college. Poverty stricken Spaniards use flamenco music, song and dance to channel their emotions.
It's an expression," Sanchez said. "But you have to feel confident to dance flamenco. … That's the most beautiful part about it; that confidence. Even if you aren't confident when you walk out that door, when you are dancing in here, you must feel it."
Those participating in Monday's class were told to dance with their chests out, pelvis forward and feet directly underneath them. Their heads were to be held high and their chins, kept up. Sanchez said all are signs of confidence.
"Your arms want to go to the heavens and your feet want to drill into the ground," she told the class. "The directions of flamenco are heaven and Earth."
Sanchez's shoes are made specifically for flamenco. Crafted in leather, they have nails in the toe and the heel to magnify the sound of the movements. But the sound they make separates them from tap shoes. And their square heels help dancers create isolated movements.
One of the challenges to teaching flamenco, Sanchez said, is that the dance is meant to be improvisational.
"It's whatever you're feeling at the time," she said. "There is no right or wrong answer. If you watch professional dancers dance, they move their hands however they feel at that moment."
Even flamenco dancers' wrists have a personality of their own, she noted. Naperville resident Cinda Watson, 52, attended the class for the first time on Monday because she thought it sounded more fun than going to the gym.
"Plus, you lose your rhythm as you get older so I thought this would help me get back into the music," Watson said.
Following the class, she and others noted how beautiful and culturally rich the flamenco is.
"I'm from the Philippines and it was a colony of Spain for 300 years," Keane said. "… We have a lot of Spanish influence in our culture so this is nice for me. I get to practice and see those strong cultural ties."
There are several flamenco classes offered locally, if you are interested in taking a class, check out our event listings.