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What’s your thing; Camila Bello

Junior+Camila+Bello+dances+stylized+flamenco+during+a+winter+recital+at+Lake+Eola.+While+Bello+has+experience+dancing+various+styles+of+flamenco%2C+her+favorite+style+is+bulerias.
Camila Bello
Junior Camila Bello dances stylized flamenco during a winter recital at Lake Eola. While Bello has experience dancing various styles of flamenco, her favorite style is bulerias.

Junior Camila Bello follows the high-intensity rhythm of the song, distinct with its 12-beat cycle and the bustling of a guitar. With every step, the dance becomes more intense, more fast-paced and improvised. This type of dance is known as bulerias, one of many styles of flamenco.

Bello started dancing when she was 4. Her mom always loved flamenco and took Bello to try it out for herself—after that day, she never looked back.

“It was love at first sight,” Bello said. “I never stopped going to class and it became an obsession.”

Bello was introduced to many types of flamenco at an early age. She has danced stylized flamenco, which is a soft, flowy type of flamenco that incorporates elements of ballet. She has danced farruca, a type of flamenco that was initially danced by men but now is danced by women, and her favorite type, bulerias, a high-intensity style of flamenco.

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“Bulerias are more energetic and have a lot of foot work involved. I really get to show off my knowledge of the dance through this type of flamenco,” Bello said. 

Dancing flamenco is typically very costly. Because shoes are made and imported from Spain, they can cost between $100 to $300 and costumes can go over $500. Still, the expense never deterred Bello from continuing her passion.

Flamenco is really the only obsession I have ever had. Whenever I’m stressed I turn to flamenco, whenever I’m sad I turn to flamenco. Even though I won’t pursue dancing as a career, it will always be part of me.

— Junior, Camila Bello

Bello participates in many competitions and showcases with her dance school Flamenco del Sol. One of her most recent showcases was Fusion Fest, a dance showcase held in downtown Orlando that exhibits many types of dance styles. Typically, Bello participates in group competitions with her dance academy, but her most recent competition, PTA Reflections, led her to explore a new challenge: a solo choreographed by herself.

Bello found out about the PTA Reflections in late October, her mom got an email from the school and asked if she wanted to participate. Bello did so on a whim, only having 5 days to choreograph, practice and film her entry. 

“It was very stressful. I found out late into submissions about the competition and I could only practice for one hour each day. At that time I also had to practice for other recitals so I ended up filming the entry the day before it was due,” Bello said.

A month after submissions were due, Bello learned she was school winner and would be moving on to the district level, but it came as a surprise when she qualified for states. 

“ A lot of time had passed since I last received an email about the reflections so I told my mom that I really did not think I made it past districts,” Bello said. “Some days later I found out I made it to the states and I was amazed.”

Apart from going to practices and competitions, Bello has another way that she involves herself with flamenco: teaching. Bello started teaching out of pure coincidence. Over the summer, she tried to get a job but it didn’t work out, so she planted the idea to her dance instructor to see if she could teach classes at Flamenco del Sol. While she began as an assistant, after her third lesson she began to teach the classes by herself. Currently, Bello teaches beginning flamenco to the age group of 5 to 11 and sets up choreography, music, and costumes for the kids. However, she doesn’t believe she will pursue flamenco professionally.

“Flamenco is really the only obsession I have ever had. Whenever I’m stressed I turn to flamenco, whenever I’m sad I turn to flamenco. Even though I won’t pursue dancing as a career, it will always be part of me,” Bello said

This story was originally published on Hagerty Journalism Today on April 8, 2024.