Where It All Began
"She had been studying flamenco for fifteen years and had never improvised with a guitarist before."
It was the final day of a Deeper Lab Rhythmic Improv workshop when one woman taking the class revealed to me that this class was the first time she had ever improvised and danced flamenco with a guitarist before. She had never felt free to do that previously and she had been studying flamenco for over fifteen years! Wow, how long she had waited for that moment to arrive! And how many of us flamenco dancers can relate in one way or another? What I've found is that despite the many avenues we now have available to learn flamenco, there is often a "glass ceiling" to actually getting out there and doing it. How many times have you hidden during the fin de fiesta out of fear of being called up there? So, you see, the story of the Deeper Lab is really a love story. A love story of my relationship with flamenco and my way through the glass ceiling. . .
Since 2001, I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, studying flamenco and performing professionally. I've also been a lifelong learner of contemporary modern dance, somatic experiencing, and art therapy. In my Bay Area flamenco experience I always wished there was a class in flamenco in which I could play creatively and explore my own expression of the art form. I loved the atmosphere of modern composition classes that balanced movement integrity with inspired playfulness. I kept looking for a teacher who would be willing to teach these improvisational skills to flamenco dancers, but then it hit me: it was my work to do it. I was reminded of some wise words I've heard before, “Create the class you've always wanted to take.”
Three years and a dozen workshops later, I'm fascinated to see how The Deeper Lab Flamenco work grows, the ideas matriculate and infiltrate into other groups and communities, and more and more dancers are empowered by it. I've always had a feeling that this work is meant to extend beyond myself which is why I've always gravitated towards collaborating with other teachers and flamenco experts like dancers and teachers, Melissa Cruz, Clara Rodriguez, La Tania, and musicians such as Azriel "El Moreno," David Paez, Gopal Slavonic, and Esteban Bello. It has brought so much more to this work than I could ever do alone and I look forward to working with more flamenco communities in the future.
Founder and Deeper Lab Instructor
Frequently Asked Questions about The Deeper Lab Flamenco Intensive
How is the Deeper Lab Flamenco Intensive different than other workshops?
Instead of imposing steps and choreographies on you, we are guiding you through an effective process for creating your own material. You will have the chance to explore flamenco movement from THE INSIDE OUT and then learn how to translate that into something you can communicate to other artists in a cuadro setting. This is an opportunity to find out what makes you UNIQUE and learn useful tools to start dancing from WITHIN!
But what if I don't know how to improvise? That sounds scary to me!
Not to worry! The creative play exercises and somatic work done in the Deeper Lab Flamenco Intensive are carefully crafted by Creative Coach, Holly Shaw who has spent years exploring the creative process and developing The Creative Formula. The work is designed to build gradually and nudge you into new territory without you ever realizing you are "improvising." Great care is taken to ensure a supportive atmosphere is created to enable you to surrender more fully to the part of you that already knows how to do it!
I'm really busy. Can I just drop in on one day and try it out?
Because The Deeper Lab Flamenco Intensive work builds on itself each day and there is an enormous trust that is built between participants, dancers are not allowed to drop in after the workshop has started. However, there are some exceptions where we allow people to "try out" the workshop as long as they begin on the very first day with other participants. Because of the atmosphere of trust created, there are also no observers (non-active participants) allowed to be present.
Meet Holly Shaw
The founder of The Deeper Lab Flamenco Intensive, Holly Shaw is a professional dancer, choreographer, and creativity coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area who has been creating work, teaching, and creating artist opportunities for over a decade - such as the Eve's Elixir project (2007-present), the Sunday Salon (2012-2013), the Deeper Lab Flamenco Intensive (2013-present) and now the LAUNCH!Lab program for Performers & Creators. While principally a flamenco dancer, Shaw has also studied contemporary modern dance, as well as somatic art therapy, composition, performance, and other ethnic dances and those techniques and sensibilities tend to weave themselves throughout her teaching, coaching, and choreographic work.
Shaw performed for many years as a soloist with Caminos Flamencos off and on for several years at the ODC Theatre, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Cowell Theatre, and with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. She has danced in the Edinburgh Arts Festival, was a starring guest artist in "Forever Flamenco" at L.A.'s Fountain Theatre, performed with several companies in the SF Ethnic Dance Festival, and was also a telvision host for Festival Revue in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In 2007, she created the Eve’s Elixir project, a platform for artists of contemporary world dance wanting to bring new ideas to traditional dance forms, and has produced dozens of shows in San Francisco and Berkeley. She has been commissioned by the Hewlitt Foundation of the Arts, the Edinburgh Arts Festival, Caminos Flamencos, and the WestWave Festival with her contemporary flamenco piece, The Outlaw.
You can find out more about her work with performing artists at