Deborah La Caramelita’s flamenco journey around the world

Deborah La Caramelita‘s extended career of a professional flamenco dancer has made the woman find herself performing in front of most varied audiences all around the world. However diverse the languages her spectators speak might be, they all understand and appreciate the language of dance practised by Deborah.

Capable of conveying a wide range of emotions that seem to be part and parcel of the dance, La Caramelita makes one completely enchanted with her refined technique, flamboayant flamenco dresses and shawls, and heartfelt passion for what she does.

How did you first come up with your stage name – “La Caramelita”?

It was actually my husband who came up with the name. “La Caramelita” literally means “little caramel” and he thought that it described my physicality as well as my personality. It’s quite common for flamenco artists to have stage names and my real name, Deborah Dawson, doesn’t quite have the same Andalusian ring to it. 

Are you your own choreographer or do you have one?

It depends on the project. I have been asked to perform in dance companies where there is a choreographer who stages everything from start to finish, but most of the time I put my choreographies together. Flamenco is different from many other dance styles as there is a lot of improvisation involved. I may choreograph one thing and then do something quite different when on stage. Also, there are a lot of traditional movements, so I may put the movements in a different order but I didn’t originally create some of them. 

What’s your most memorable performance?

One of my favourite performances was at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival a few years back. The festival takes place a couple of blocks away from where I grew up and I used to volunteer there. Every year I would be so inspired from seeing performers from all over the world make people dance and sing. Coming back to the festival as a performer and sharing what I had learned after so many years felt very special. 

How did you become part of  Le Projet Téléphone? What’s in it for you?

I was approached by Melissa Rindell, founder of Le Projet Téléphone in Bordeaux. She asked if I would be interested in being a part of the project and after learning more about it I jumped at the idea. I thought it would be so interesting to put a piece together that had to follow a completely different structure than what I am used to. I think it made me grow as an artist and I’ve made some new friends from the experience. There’s a really great community that came together because of Le Projet Téléphone and I’m very grateful to Melissa and to all the artists involved. 

What emotions do you experience when dancing flamenco?

All of them. No, really. Everything that I’ve experienced in my life at one point or another comes out when I’m on stage. There’s joy, pain, jealousy, anger, playfulness, love, passion, anger, hurt, loneliness. I am drawn to flamenco because of these varying emotions and how well different “palos” (styles) can express and eventually heal. 

What’s the most difficult aspect of dancing flamenco?

Again, all of it. I find that flamenco is the perfect example of the more I learn, the more I realize that there’s still so much more to learn. I guess it keeps me on my toes, literally. 

Is it easy to find a job as a flamenco dancer?

I wouldn’t say that it is easy, but moving to Bordeaux has definitely made working a little easier. It’s an up and coming city with a growing cultural demand and I’ve found that audiences are responsive to flamenco shows.  

What do you like doing in your free time?

Yoga and meditation. As much as I love flamenco it can take a negative tole on me physically as well as mentally. I’ve recently found that yoga helps me balance out, relax, and come back to dance with a fresh perspective. Between dance, yoga, reading, biking, hiking, apéros with too much rosé, and watching too much netflix, I fill what is left of my free time with eating cheese. Vive la France, non? 

Interested in learning more about Deborah “La Caramelita” or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find her:

Life of a French-Mexican corps de ballet dancer Alexandra Vadon

Have you ever wondered what life of a ballet dancer is like? I have.
That is why I am so excited to present an interview with Alexandra Vadon, member of Ballet du Capitole Toulouse.

Alexandra is an aspiring corps de ballet dancer with many years of dancing experience. Having graduated from the conservatory of Paris, she danced for the Polish National Ballet before returning back to France where she is currently working.

Alexandra Vadon, member of Ballet du Capitole Toulouse

How long have you been in ballet for? Why did you decide to make it your career?

I started dancing for fun when I was 6 years old, and as a professional when I was 19 years old. I actually didn’t see my life otherwise. I was in a special school, going to dance classes in the morning and studying in the afternoon. My childhood friends were my classmates – also dancers and artists. Plus I didn’t like any other sport at the time, whereas dance had always been fun for me.

How did you happen to work for the Polish National Ballet?

I had to audition during my last year of school. The problem was that I was a bit overweight at the time. Due to that it was pointless to do a lot of big auditions – like that of Berlin – running in January. By April, though, I was pretty fit, so I decided to audition for the Polish National Ballet, whose audition took place in June. That is how I got a 5-year contract with them.

How do corps de ballet maintain a friendly relationship if they are all, in fact, competitors trying to get noticed and promoted?

Competition can be unhealthy for some people. For me succeeding is not about making my colleagues fail. I try to push myself as much as I can. We all have different bodies and personalities, and if you know how to use what you’ve got, this is when it works for you.

Alexandra in her pointe shoes

Do you have any special rituals you do to get into the right mood before a performance?

Yes, I have a “ritual” before a show. I go for hair and make-up, I do my warm-up routine, I put my shoes and my costume on. If I am not sure about the choreography, I go over it once remembering the corrections we’ve had in rehearsals. And at the last moment I apply a bit of rosin to my shoes.

What are your eating habits? Do you have to follow any particular diet?

I don’t follow a diet, I just have a different lifestyle, I guess. I eat as healthily as I can – I believe food has a lot to do with how your muscles and brain work. I eat a bit of everything in reasonable quantities and drink a lot of water.

Do ballet dancers do any sport on top of their ballet classes? Is it recommended at all?

Yes, I think everyone does something on top of dance. It’s actually recommended because dance can be violent for your body. Men usually go to the gym, some people run, swim, do pilates. I do gyrotonic once a week, and I have a strengthening and stretching routine every day (abs, arms, legs, calves, back).

Alexandra Vadon

Are there paid holidays for ballet dancers? How many days per year? How do you spend your days of paid holidays?

I m lucky because I’m a full-time dancer, so I get 5 weeks of payed holidays. For freelance dancers it’s a bit different. I must say that most of dancers enjoy their holidays. I have a big family in Mexico, as I have dual nationality, so I spend most of my summer there.

Do ballet dancers have a fixed salary or do they get paid based on the number of performances per month?

As I’m a full-time dancer, I have a fixed salary every month no matter how many shows I do. I get extras if I dance a role or something specific that requires body painting or lifting something heavy, etc… There are many rules about that. We get extra money when we go on tour as well or if we have extra projects that aren’t related to the theater.

What are some of the activities you enjoy doing when you have some free time?

I like cooking, knitting, taking photos and playing the piano. At the moment I’m learning Russian, and I hope to start taking acting classes next year. Also, I just got my dance teacher’s diploma.

What is your ultimate goal as a ballerina?

I hope to get up the ranks to become at least a demi-soloist but it really depends on many factors, so I would say that my ultimate goal is to become the best artist I can and always grow as a person.

Interested in learning more about Alexandra Vadon or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find her: