COLUMBUS (WCMH) — September 15 marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and throughout the month NBC4 is recognizing the cultural impacts in central Ohio, including one woman’s effort to bring a little-talked-about tradition to the area.

“Flamenco isn’t just a dance, it’s an art form,” says Gabriela Guerrero, a Flamenco instructor. Guerrero has been teaching the Flamenco since she was just 15 years old.

“I think it’s about finding a way to express your feelings, finding a way to release your stress. So, it’s exercise, it’s something for your mind, for your soul,” Guerrero encourages.

Originating in Spain in the 1800’s, Flamenco began as an emotional expression of sadness and sorrow.
But, when Spanish immigrants brought their culture and tradition to places like Guerrero’s home of Venezuela, the art form was injected with new feelings of happiness and celebration.

“It started to become really popular for the natives to start blending our traditions with their traditions,” Guerrero describes.

In 2010, UNESCO designated the “Flamenco” a World Intangible Cultural Heritage — a significant designation that highlights the tradition’s importance both nationally and internationally.

Guerrero, who came to the United States in 2016, is now bringing a piece of her culture to central Ohio.

“I feel really proud that we can bring culture here to the United States and that we can celebrate, and that everybody celebrates the heritage that Hispanic people brought here,” says Guerrero.

Flamenco has three traditional elements — singing, guitar playing, and dancing.

“In Flamenco you are open. You can dance with a partner, you can dance with a big group, you can dance by yourselves,” Guerrero adds.

There over 50 “styles,” of Flamenco, and Guerrero warns that the art form can be a challenge for people with no dance experience.

“You need to keep coordination not only with your arms and hand movement, but with the footwork,” describes Guerrero as she displays the proper hand gestures.

But still, Guerrero encourages everyone to dip their toes into the art.

“You will learn a little bit about a different country, you will be in an environment of a cultural exchange.”

Anyone interested in learning Flamenco can register for classes with Guerrero at Gabrielaflamenco.com.