The building situated at 76 Pureza Street, with 1,500 square metres, is devoted to comprehensive training of singing, dancing and guitar. The North American patron celebrates the opening of the site with 20 years of history for the not-for-profit organisation and the launch of new projects

"It's a dream come true". Cristina Heeren opens the doors of her new flamenco school with a positive evaluation of the 20 year trajectory, while looking forward to the future with new projects. The Fundación of Flamenco Art that takes the name of the North American patron opens its site in the heart of Triana (Sevilla), at number 76 Pureza Street, to be exact, the name of the label that started her romance with the art when she settled in Andalusia. "Fate has brought us here", confirms the Hispanist. With its 1,500 square metres, new classrooms, two patios, auditorium and study hall, it will be the biggest centre dedicated to flamenco training in the world. The current hundred students - including Andalusians,Spaniards and foreigners from some 40 countries - could be doubled in the new facilities. Not only is it a move, regathering and expansion of classrooms, shared over the last decade between the Heliópolis and El Juncal neighbourhoods, but also a renewal of the study plan, now under the management of Pepa Sánchez, Doctor of Flamenco from the University of Seville. "We always try to improve, innovate, polish", from the perspective that "the results show that the initial approach was correct", explains Heeren.

Cristina Heeren is thrilled with the current flamenco figures that the flamenco school has trained in Sevilla since 1996, among them, Rocio Márquez, Argentina, Jeromo Segura, Manuel Lombo, India Martinez, Manuel de la Luz and El Choro. The excellence of the teaching staff is one of the keys, with teachers such as Milagros Menjibar, Calixto Sánchez, Niño de Pura, Pedro Sierra, Juan José Amador and Javier Barón (National Dance Award) among many others. The training offering will maintain as its star program the Annual Flamenco Course, with three years duration in three progressive levels and three specialities (Singing, Dancing and Guitar), in addition to the Intensive Summer Course, as well as a new program of workshops in the afternoons for a diverse profile of students. The new school will provide, additionally, a unique space to enrich the training of the students: the auditorium for one hundred spectators, in which they can put their knowledge into practice and train in areas such as lighting and sound. The Academic Director has set the goal, in parallel, to achieve official recognition of the studies, for which she is in talks with administration.      

The Foundation's new Triana site is looking to convert itself into a centre for flamenco studies that will be an international reference. It will continue with classes but, as Heeren advances, also with conferences, gatherings, master classes and book and disc presentations, amongst other activities. Also among the new projects of the Cristina Heeren Foundation is the recovery of competitions, with which it aims to continue discovering young singing, dance and guitar talents across Andalusia. Just as she did between 1997 and 2011, the patron has embarked on the organisation of a series of contests, with the collaboration of Acciona, with further details coming soon. Also under way is the inclusion of the Foundation on the Triana tourist route, an area that also seeks to address the management of "A River of Flamenco" in Marqués de Contadero.   

20 years of flamenco commitment

The opening of the site in Triana is a turning point for the Cristina Heeren Foundation, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. During this time, this not-for-profit entity has made the school the flagship of its project, with a globally unique academic plan orientated towards professionalisation. Additionally it has gone to great lengths in the production and distribution of shows such as 'Aviso: Bayles de Jitanos' by El Choro, Breakout Award at the Festival of Jerez 2015; and recitals for events in Cervantes Institute sites, embassies or the Hispanic Society of New York. More than 6,000 students have passed through its classrooms, many of these have launched a career after completing their training in the school, such as Rocio Márquez, India Martinez, Manuel Lombo, Argentina, Yasmin Levy, Farah Siraj, Luisa Palicio, El Choro, Lucia la Piñona, Alberto Sellés, Manuel de la Luz, La Divi and Raúl Cantizano, some honoured in prestigious competitions such as the Festival del Cante de las Minas de La Unión, the Festival of Jerez or the Bienal of Sevilla. Like all the projects developed by the Foundation, the site was constructed with hundred percent private finances invested by the patron. Her philanthropic project has received, in the last year, the recognition of the Cultural Minister with the Order of Alfonso X el Sabio; the Government of Andalusia with the Premio Flamenco en el Aula 2016; the Cámara de Comercio de Sevilla; the Cajasol Foundation; the Festival of Jerez; the Festival of Lo Ferro; and the Festival of la Mistela. All especially value the program of study scholarships that has been enjoyed by more than 700 students, and for the extension of which the Foundation is looking for private company allies and benefactors.