June 2021: Oscar Nieto
Who is Oscar Nieto in a sentence?
Oscar Nieto is a teacher, choreographer and mentor to many flamenco artists in Canada and the U.S.
Tell us a bit about your work and practice.
I’ve been teaching for approximately 55 years and counting. I started performing around the age of 16 in Los Angeles, California, and performed into my early 70s. I have been acknowledged for my unique approach to teaching and was the first flamenco dancer to receive the Jacqueline Lemieux prize from the Canada Council, for my longstanding contribution to the art of flamenco in Canada.
How long have you been dancing?
Approximately 60 years.
How does dance fit into your life currently?
Due to health issues I’m not as active performance wise, but still very active with teaching and mentoring younger dancers.
How would you describe dance’s impact on your life?
It’s been pretty much the centre of my life, both as a performing artist and as a teacher.
How are you spending your time during the COVID pandemic?
Teaching a few one-on-one classes, writing and learning video editing. Learning video editing software is a steep hill to climb because it is ever evolving, but it’s stimulating for my brain.
What three core values drive your engagement with dance?
Discipline – creativity – and being open to new ideas.
Do you have a particular practice that you carry out each day or have you implemented new practices in adapting to the current climate?
I take it day by day; some days are busier than others. I try not to beat myself up when I haven’t done all the things that I set out to do on that day. My health takes priority. Having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015, I’ve had to learn to adjust my schedule depending on where my energy level is on that day.
What would you say are the most significant benefits to being a Dance Centre member?
Community support, and knowing that there is an organization there to help with studio space and other services, such as, assistance in grant writing.
Interested in becoming a Dance Centre Member? Learn more here
Photos by Elvira Yebes