Ana has taken advantage of a special offer for runners taking part in both the Great Birmingham 10K on May 1, and the Great Birmingham Run, on October 16. ?For more information, visit greatrun.org/birmingham
A BIRMINGHAM-based Flamenco dancer will bring the sounds of Spain to the streets of the second city when she takes part in the Great Birmingham 10K.
Ana Garcia, a professional Flamenco dancer who has lived in Birmingham for more than 20 years, will take part in the 10K around the city which takes place on May 1, and has also signed up for the Great Birmingham Run on October 16.
With starting waves based on musical decades and UB40 announced as honorary starters, there is a musical theme running through the Great Birmingham 10K, and Spaniard Ana will lend a continental flavour to the start line on Jennens Road in May – and she hopes to have other dancers from the city joining her on the day.
“I recommend it to other dancers” said Ana. “Go outside and run, and liberate yourself. It's a very nice way of getting fitter, without having to think so much. Just get lost in your running. It's time for yourself.”
Born in Valdepenas, Spain, Ana moved to Birmingham in 1993, and has taught Flamenco at Birmingham University.
She has performed with her dance company Alma all over the UK, and has appeared at the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall and has also performed at Edinburgh Festival.
As a choreographer, she collaborated with some of the leading directors in productions such as La Celestine, La Vie Parisienne and Carmen, across Europe.
And, as she takes a step back from professional dancing and moves into promoting acts from Spain around the UK, Ana could concentrate her energy on her new love – running.
“I have taken up running as a substitute for performing, to make me feel good about myself. I have not been running long, I only started in August, so I'm training quite hard,” said Ana.
“I'm very keen to take part in these runs. I have always liked sports but I have been careful not to injure myself as I have been a performer, now I'm stepping away from the performing world, I can push myself more with the sports.”
Ana is excited about taking part in the flagship running events in her adopted city to which she holds great affection.
“Birmingham has been great to me,” said Ana. “When I came here, I didn't know anybody, I started from scratch here. My first performance was at the Custard Factory when it first opened, and then slowly I got to know people who really liked Flamenco in the UK.
“I started teaching, people were very receptive and interested. Then I started bringing artists from Spain to play in Birmingham.
“Birmingham has been very good to me and I've been working hard to bring high quality Flamenco artists and organising things for the community as well.”
Ana, 45, believes that running has given her a new lease of life and adds to the creative process while she trains for the 10K and the half-marathon.
“It's a total different kind of performance. It's been a great thing to do. I didn't like it at first, but it's very interesting,” said Ana, who listens to Flamenco music while she trains. “I'm a bit of a beginner so I'm training a lot. I'm training with my flamenco while I'm running.
“I love it – it must be the beat, I just get lost in it.
“I also choreograph pieces for other people to perform and while I'm out running I'm more productive. I put my music on and I get lost in the music, and I start with my movements and sensations which afterwards I put on to a stage.
“I find it very inspiring. It's a moment where I switch off, I don't have to think about any daily problems, I just think artistically when I'm running.”
Despite making her living from wearing the elaborate, ruffled traditional Flamenco dress, there is no temptation for Ana to be taking to the streets of Birmingham in it.
“I'm not going to run in my costume,” she said. “It would be slightly uncomfortable. Imagine that – one of those big dresses for a half-marathon. It's going to be knackering anyway!”
Ana has taken advantage of a special offer for runners taking part in both the Great Birmingham 10K on May 1, and the Great Birmingham Run, on October 16.
Runners can pay a total of £50 (including VAT), which will guarantee their place in both of the 2016 Birmingham running events.
The discount will be deducted after entering the second event, therefore it doesn't matter which one they enter first.
For more information, visit greatrun.org/birmingham