Flamenco Dancer & Choreographer, Cristina Hall
2. Where you based?
I am based in Sevilla, Spain.
I am a professional flamenco dancer and choreographer.
4. Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. I attended School of the Arts high school in San Francisco as a violinist. At the age of sixteen, I felt a strong urge to learn flamenco. I took my first class and knew right away that flamenco was what I wanted to pursue in life. I graduated high school and immediately attended beauty school to have a profession to fall back on just in case flamenco didn’t work out. I began working in a hair salon downtown to save money so I could move to Spain. After a year of saving, I packed my bags. At the age of nineteen, I moved to Spain with no return ticket. Seventeen years later, I am still living in Spain and flamenco has become my life. I was very shy and introverted as a child. As an adolescent, I was in need of finding my own way of communicating, words were never the easiest form of expression for me. Flamenco has helped me enter a whole process of self discovery, I have truly found my own language through dance and movement.
5. Can you recount the process between settling in Andalucia at 19 and touring? Did you know anyone in Spain before moving?
When I first moved to Sevilla, it was not an easy process, I did not know anyone nor speak the language. It was my first time living away from home, the culture was different, and completely foreign to me. At the time, not many people spoke English. Therefore I had to learn the language quickly. In five months, I was speaking and able to converse in Spansh. I began taking flamenco classes with all the local teachers here in Sevilla and shortly after began performing and traveling frequently to the States. I also toured with different companies and artists.
6. Tell us about La Charla. How difficult was it to create your own company?
A guitarist that I formerly worked with approached me and wanted to create a show. We began pondering ideas and I suggested the name La Charla, the show is about a non verbal conversation between all the artists involved in it. It was a very interesting process, I think it made me realize even more how everything I create comes from a deep place within myself, based on my own personal experiences. Creating my own company was not an easy process, having to delegate responsibilities at times can be challenging.
7. What drew you to Seville? What was your experience living there?
Flamenco was what mainly drew me to Seville, it is the birthplace of flamenco. I read up a lot about Spanish culture and flamenco and had a clear vision in my mind of what Seville would look like. When I arrived it was all I had envisioned and more. Living in Seville is fun, people are very friendly, and It is easy to get around. It is a city that has helped me grow as a person.
8. What do you like about flamenco and the Spanish culture?
What I most love about flamenco is that it is an art where every emotion can be expressed and felt. Flamenco is rich in so many ways, it is very much linked to the culture. What I love about Spanish culture is how tradition is very important to the people and very present within the culture. I also love the simplicity of life here.
9. What do you think of the flamenco wardrobe?
I think flamenco costumes have evolved greatly over the years, they have become a lot more simple and fashionable. I think that the costumes are very personal, for me I love to design my own costumes depending on what I am trying to express at the moment.
10. What inspired you to learn Spanish culture?
Flamenco was what inspired me to learn about Spanish culture. I think in order to really understand the art it is important to know and understand the culture because it is very present within the art form.
11. What other types of dance styles do you perform besides flamenco?
I only perform flamenco, but I think I have developed my own style within the flamenco genre. I am very much inspired by all types of dance and art in general but have never formally trained in any other forms of dance but flamenco.
12. Who are some of your favorite flamenco dancers?
There are so many influential dancers that have inspired me through my journey with flamenco. I think everyone has something different and special to offer. My favorite dancers are the ones that are true to themselves and that are able to push limits within themselves and reflect that through their art.
13. What are some difficulties you’ve experienced with flamenco dancing? What is the training process?
In Spain, it was not easy to make my way into the flamenco scene. Seventeen years ago, foreign flamenco dancers were not well accepted by the locals. It was a struggle to constantly prove myself. In order to find my voice, I had to push within barriers of the flamenco community. For example, my appearance, I am blonde fair skinned, my last name being “Hall” and I did not want to change it. I am aware that I am not Spanish, I could never force myself to be someone I am not, it has helped me to embrace where I come from and who I am and to express all this through my dancing instead of trying to force myself to be someone I am not. I knew that my purpose for coming to Sevilla was to discover myself, I am still on a personal journey and self realization. The training process was very difficult. First and foremost, I needed to learn the basic traditional way of dancing flamenco. I wanted to be in touch with the movement of my own body and creativity. As I became more confident with the dance, my own creativity and style began to evolve. Everyday when I went into the studio, self discovery, realization, and contentment emerged.
14. What’s your favorite flamenco song to dance to?
All flamenco “palos” are exciting to me. My preference depends on how I am feeling at that moment. Currently, I enjoy dancing Solea.
15. What is your motto in life?
Art is the hidden language of the soul.