Arts Education with Rebeca Tomás & A Palo Seco


A Palo Seco Flamenco Company’s Arts Education programs are deeply rooted in the multi-cultural art of Flamenco, thoughtfully and intricately woven into the academic curriculum of every school and classroom the company visits.  Lecture Demonstrations combine high-energy performance pieces with academic explanations and extensive audience participation. Workshops teach the central aspects of Flamenco dance, music, culture, and history. Extended Residencies give a more in-depth look at the techniques and skills of Flamenco music and dance, general body and rhythmic awareness, and the cultural and historic context of the Spanish art.  Each program is strategically connected to the current curriculum of the classroom and common core standards particular to each grade.  

Through the powerful art of Flamenco, the company’s work instills students with confidence by helping them master intricate rhythmic patterns and feel comfortable with their own physicality. By exposing students to the Spanish art of Flamenco, the company’s Arts Education programs aim to open a window into another world students might not otherwise experience.  Their performances bring that world alive, helping to expand students’ knowledge and interest in a music, dance, and culture that is different from their own. Ultimately, we believe that this work helps students to be more open and less judgmental towards cultures that are different from their own.

The artists in A Palo Seco Flamenco Company have extensive experience in Arts Education, working with students of all ages and backgrounds, presenting engaging programs and performances for young audiences throughout the country. Led by director Rebeca Tomas, the company has worked with Arts Education organizations such as Young Audiences, Arts for Learning CT, Hartford Performs, Arts Westchester, and others.  Tomas herself has taught in colleges and universities, serving as adjunct faculty at the University of Rochester for several years, and presenting workshops and performances at institutions such as Wesleyan University, Vassar College, SUNY Brockport, the Eastman School of Music, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, and NYU’s Gallatin School.  Having received a New York State teaching certificate in Spanish from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, Tomas leads her company in seamless meld of Arts and Education throughout all of their programs. 

**NOTE: Classes are generally taught with a combination of English and Spanish; language-use can be tailored to each classroom’s needs and comprehension level in either language.

Program Descriptions


“FLAMENCO! The Dance, Music, & Culture of Southern Spain” features live dance and music in a vibrant and entertaining production full of color, rhythm, and emotions. Explanations and questions are intermixed with high-energy performance pieces, as well as plenty of audience participation. Students learn about the history and geography of Southern Spain and are taught how to play the castanets and las palmas,rhtyhmic hand-clapping. They are also led through Flamenco’s prototypical “zapateo”(footwork) and are invited to join the artists on stage to do a short dance number at the end. This top-notch performance gives students of all ages a true taste of the Southern Spanish art of Flamenco; students and teachers alike will leave with a big “Ole!”


Tailored to students of all ages, in-school or extracurricular workshops can be individual sessions or a short series of back-to-back workshops that focus on the central aspects of Flamenco dance, music, culture, and history. Each session begins with a full-body warm-up set to lively Flamenco music and then introduces students to the basic techniques within Flamenco dance: zapateo (footwork), braceo (armwork), palmas (rhythmic hand-clapping), and more. They also get to see castanets in-action and learn how to play them. The workshop culminates with a short dance combination that students can go home and perform for friends and family, ending with an energetic “Ole!”


Core Curriculum Based In School and After-School Residencies:

Residencies are an extended series of classes that teach students the techniques and skills of Flamenco music and dance, general body and rhythmic awareness, and the cultural and historic context of this Spanish art. Residencies include an in-class performance by the company, and work the students towards a final performance of their own that includes professional musicians and costumes. The extended exposure to the culture, music, and dance of Flamenco fill students with confidence and inspiration, giving them an unforgettable experience that stays with them forever.

Technique & Academic Focus during Residencies:

By the end of the residency, students will be able to perform a full choreography to a live music that includes all of the technical elements within Flamenco dance, including armwork (braceo), hand-clapping (palmas) and footwork (zapateo), all punctuated by a series of lively jaleos (Flamenco-style rhythmic shouts), including the most typical “Ole!”In addition, students will gain an understanding of the geography of Southern Spain, as well as the historical and multi-cultural melting pot that existed there before the Spanish Inquisition, and how this particular mix of people and circumstances created Flamenco. For the final performance, students divide up the information into “Flamenco Fun-Facts” and take turns reciting it to the audience prior to the dance performance.





Student Responses

I left your performance wanting to dance more than ever, and I don’t just mean the dance that I already know how to do. I want to keep learning! Thank you not only for a beautiful performance, but for a wonderful class, and perhaps even a new passion!
It’s really a very inspiring thing to watch you dance. Everything that you’ve told us about Flamenco, and everything that we’ve read in the articles, and everything that we’ve heard in the music, even everything we’ve felt as we’ve learned some of the moves ourselves, it all comes through so clearly when you dance.