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Meet Irit Specktor of Studio K’tan Flamenco in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Irit Specktor.

Irit, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Israel. I began my flamenco dancing career there while completing my Literally Legum Baccalaureus from Tel Aviv University. I’ve moved to California 18 years ago.

I grew up with a major hearing loss. Unfortunately it was unidentified and untreated in childhood. I did so well in school, no one know I was struggling. It was my flamenco teacher, Mijal Natan, who first encouraged me to test and treat my hearing loss. I was already 20 years old then. After that, I spent my adult life restoring all that I was deprived of as a child: use of hearing aids, forming and embracing my identity as a deaf person, language, culture, and community. I now speak 3 languages and know ASL, but I’ve always expressed myself through the language of dance and especially Flamenco. I find it perfect for dancers with hearing loss, which normally have a great sense and love of beat.

I have been a professional Flamenco dancer for 22 years now. I performed in theaters and festivals around the world including Israel, Spain, Japan, Armenia, and the USA. After moving to California, I performed alongside acclaimed performers such as Laila and Adam Del Monte, Juan Talavera, Maria Bermudez, Manuel Guttierez, Antonio Triana and Antonio De Jerez at such theaters as the Alex Theater, the Fountain Theater, the Whitefire and more. I was the lead dancer at the UCLA production of the opera “Lorca y Las Mujeres” and in the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts Production of the play. My role as “La Luna”, the inspiration of the renowned poet Gabriel Garcia Lorca, was critically acclaimed.

I love performing, but my real passion is for learning and teaching. In the past few years I built a little dance studio specifically for Flamenco, in which I teach and guide students of all hearing levels. The studio is home to many Flamenco artists, from Spain and local. It features a special wooden floor which is, in fact, our musical instrument as dancers. Flamenco is an intimate art form which is why my studio is small. I named it Studio K’tan. K’tan means small in Hebrew.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My entire career as a professional dancer was a struggle to work with and succeed as an equal among typically-hearing dancers, musicians and actors. I have suffered discrimination (audism) and prejudice, but I persisted. Dancing was my own personal tool to fight the many negative side-effects linked with hearing loss: low-self esteem, anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

It took many years for me to come to terms with my hearing loss and later on with my children’s hearing loss. My state of mind evolved over these years. When I was young, I hid my hearing loss to avoid the stigma. I survived Law School with absolutely no accommodation. I was ashamed and afraid to be different and become excluded. I did not know that I have the right to demand accessibility. I did not want teachers to think of me as inferior to other students. Now, years later, I wear my hearing loss proudly on my sleeve. I am now a mother of three girls. Two of them are also identified as Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Raising them has made me active in my advocacy for our community. I have been inspired by great deaf artists such as the incredible flamenco dancer Antonita La Singla and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. I now advocate for accessibility and equal opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing artists and work on my special project “DeaFlamenco”.

Studio K’tan Flamenco – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
It is not easy for a flamenco dancer to rent a typical dance studio. Our shoes have nails in the bottom and we are known to damage the average dance floor. My studio has a special whole wood floor, which is specifically designated for flamenco. It makes a wonderful sound with less effort and stress on the dancer’s body.
I put my heart and soul in Studio K’tan. It is a home for flamenco in Los Angeles. This is where I teach my students but it is also a rehearsal space for many great Flamenco artists. I am very proud to host here dance workshops with great flamenco masters such as Alfonso Losa, Concha Jareno, Maria Juncal, Fanny Ara, Ivan Vargas, Adrian Santana, Lola Mayo, Agueda Saavedra and many more.

I believe a real flamenco artist should aim for a complete understanding of all aspects of flamenco, including singing, guitar, and cajon. This is why I host workshops with top musicians here and encourage my students to immerse themselves in this art form to achieve a deeper understanding of it.

Many artists praise my studio, the atmosphere in it and the vibe. It has the “duende”, it’s like the spirit of flamenco lives here. It gives you space to create and find inspiration.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Sharing my vision of DeaFlamenco and receiving the support, acceptance, and encouragement from wonderful souls such as Concha Jareno and Lola Mayo, to name a few, was so empowering for me. It was like coming out of the closet to discover that I am not less than others and that I have leaders in the flamenco community by my side saying the same.
Flamenco is a unique dance form. The guitar and singing are so expressive you can hear them with your eyes and with your heart. The dancer is also a percussionist, often leading the musicians. For a deaf dancer it is a fantastic opportunity to take charge over the beat. I feel like I got a “green-light” from our flamenco elders to pursue my project DeaFlamenco. I hope to see it come to life in the next few years

Pricing:

  • 1 hour group class $15
  • 1.5 hour group class $25/$20
  • 1 hour private $50
  • Studio rental $10-$35

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Asaf Specktor, Ephrat Specktor

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