Flamenco is
the blues of Southern Spain
Tatiana teaching Tatiana teaching Sara Bosch

Melbourne Flamenco

201 Gertrude Street 
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: 03 9416 0095
Flamenco is not fully understood in Australia yet

When I arrive at the Melbourne Flamenco Studio, the owner Tatiana Bistrin is outside waiting for me with red flowers stacked in her deep black hair. "I didn't want you to miss it", says smiling. I could not: the glass window is packed with vintage clothes veiling the 'tablao' (wooden floor) behind. The shop becomes a stage after 6pm.

- You've been teaching flamenco for almost 25 years in Australia. Don't you get tired?!
Impossible. There's always something to learn and I do it every day with my students and with my teacher.

- Does a teacher have a teacher?
Yes of course, learning flamenco is like learning science! My teacher´s name is Charito Saldaña, and she is very knowledgeable. The flamenco dancers I know are all very intelligent, as you need a clear mind, capable of absorbing lots of information.

- How did your love story with flamenco begin?
I grew up surrounded by music. My dad, from Russia, migrated here in the fifties. The local band had a very limited space for foreigners, so he and mum started a recording studio and music shop. The funny thing is that the company was based just a few meters away from my studio, a fact I didn't find out until I opened it!

- What kind of music did they record?
Everything! Including bolero. And the musicians were outstanding; they had to record 'live' in one shot between trams passing by.

- Have you been in Spain?
Yes, twice, but a long time ago! The first time I went to study at the famous 'Amor De Dios' flamenco school in Madrid back in 1993. And then a few years ago I went to 'Carmen de las Cuevas' in Granada. I'm hoping to go back next year.

- What's the philosophy of your studio?
Flamenco is not fully understood in Australia yet, so I want to promote an understanding with my studio and my personal experience. Apart from the classes and the clothes, we offer guitar and cajón workshops and bring special guests every time they are touring the country, such as El Brujo, Pepa Molina and Tomás Arroquero, among others.

- Any public performances?
My students prepare a presentation to the public for Christmas and I perform when I can find the time. My next performance might be for the Chinese New Year.

- What is difficult to understand about flamenco?
Flamenco is rhythm and poetry; it's full of meaning. It's like the blues of Southern Spain to express joy, sorrow and the gypsies' daily problems. It also requires a high level of commitment and physical exercise. My muscles get sore every time I dance! There's this perception that Spanish people only dance a stereotyped and touristy flamenco, and that is a simplistic and unfair view of such a rich art form. It's continuously evolving, and being influenced by modern music...

Tatiana tunes out from our conversation to sing the lyrics of a flamenco song that has started playing in the background. She says she doesn't speak Spanish, but she knows all the lyrics by heart - in Spanish!

Sara Bosch


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