This month we talk to Dutch-born, former transport agent, flamenco and yoga teacher with a flair for belly dancing and fine food: Inge Drenthen.
What did you do before you came here in 2010?
Before we came to Madrid, we spent 3 years in Turin in Northern Italy and 5 years in Brussels. I grew up in the Netherlands and was a shipping and land transport agent for 17 years.
Your father is half Indonesian, did your Asian heritage influence your upbringing?
Not really except that I definitely have a penchant for Asian cuisine. I have never felt typically Dutch and embraced Spanish culture as a child when we used to come here on holiday.
Dancing has always been a huge part of your life, tell us about this lifelong passion
I have been dancing since I was tiny! I took up ballet at 4 and modern dance at 6 years old. At 16 I joined a Palestinian dance group and later on I took flamenco lessons. As an adult I continued with flamenco and Oriental dance, even when we moved to Belgium and in Italy I also kept up with Oriental dance which I love. Moving to Spain meant I could return to flamenco and I also learned sevillanas. I have had different teachers, each with their own style which has been fascinating.
What´s your favourite dance and why?
My favourite dance is flamenco because it is very passionate, beautiful and emotional, every “palo” type of flamenco dance has its own rhythm, emotion and energy.
How did you come to teach sevillanas?
At the request of friends and INC members and I absolutely love it! In September I am adding a new beginners’ group. It´s great fun and you can dance sevillanas in two´s as well as in a group of 3 or 4 and even with more people in a circle and there are accessories such as a: “mantón” (shawl), “castañuelas” (castanets) or “abanico” (fan).
What sort of yoga do you practise and how did you come to teach it?
I practise and teach Vinyasa Flow yoga , Yin yoga and Hormonal yoga. I started to practice yoga about 35 years ago because I had hyper ventilation issues. When we moved to Spain I deepened my connection with yoga and was fully inspired by my teacher.
After my training, some friends asked me to give classes and that´s how I began. My students’ enthusiasm really energised me and it was so gratifying seeing them go home happy and grateful. I still give lessons at different places in Madrid and have continued my career development with a Hatha yoga course and a hormone balance teacher training.
What does yoga bring to your life?
I heartily recommend yoga to everyone, it has brought me so much, more confidence, energy, peace in challenging times, reflection, and so much more…. I prefer Vinyasa because it feels like dancing, flowing and synchronizing with one´s breath.
How do you find living in Madrid compared with Turin?
Northern Italians are more detached than the Madrileños and whilst Spaniards are louder than the Italians, the latter gesticulate more dramatically when they speak. Italians are more fashion-conscious and most of them like to dress up, high heels are not uncommon in an ordinary pizza restaurant! I prefer the Madrid weather and the opportunity to dance flamenco being in Spain presents.
How did you enjoy living in Brussels?
I loved it. We lived in a beautiful forest just outside of Brussels in the French-speaking area which is quite different to the Flemish side. I think the food is better than in the Netherlands, the Belgians are more gastronomically-minded, just like me actually!
You´re an avid reader and a member of the INC Book Club, name a book that has inspired you
That would be “Light of Life” by B.K.S Iyengar. This is a wonderful book I had to read for my first teacher training about Iyengar ‘s insights after years of practising and teaching yoga.
What book do you most recommend to others?
“Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman which we read in the INC book club. It´s a beautiful and heartbreaking story about loneliness and explores the loyalty of children towards their parents and the serious consequences of neglect by foster-parents.
If you could wave a magic wand what would you do next in your life?
I´m already starting it: the launch of my retreats with a nutrition, life coach and aromatherapy specialist in September.
I would also very much like to learn to how to play the “cajón” which is a flamenco box drum originally from Peru
As a keen chef, I also would like to do more cooking classes or organize a cooking club.