Tales from the Sierra

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Tales from the Sierra

Often after the Flamenco Tour I travel here and there. To explore, to scout things out for future tours, to visit friends, to see more flamenco... A couple of years ago after the trip ended I headed to Prado del Rey in the Sierra de Cádiz for a few days.

I did not rent a car and instead chose a home base with plenty of trails and places to explore on foot nearby. I spent a lot of time getting lost then finding myself in unintended places. While I look forward to hiking and discovering more of the sierra in the future, I'm very happy with my decision to travel sin coche this time around.

Some people considered the overall experience I had there (and my persistence in certain situations which you'll read about below) to be quite flamenca which makes me want to share this account of my adventures there with you:

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Flamenco Tour Highlights (Part Two)

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Flamenco Tour Highlights (Part Two)

This past Flamenco Tour was the smallest on record with only three of us! We still had an amazing time. Below read highlights from week two of the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. (You can see highlights from week one here, and you can read day-by-day accounts here and here.)

Getting To Know One Another

One of my favorite aspects of the Flamenco Tour is how the group tends to turn into our own little flamenco family. People take care of each other; they even try to take care of me although I’m supposed to be taking care of them. It's so comforting to feel the support of the people you're with …

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Sorrow in My Soul | The Weekly Letra

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Sorrow in My Soul | The Weekly Letra

When we were in Jerez we spent a lot of time at Tabanco El Pasaje watching flamenco. You can see shows there just about every afternoon and night. Below you can see a video of Juan Loreto dancing soleá por bulerías.

Soleá por Bulerías
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Qué pena tengo en el alma
se murió la madre mía
cuando se anunciaba el alba

What sorrow I feel in my soul
my mother died
when dawn came

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Laura de los Laureles | The Weekly Letra

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Laura de los Laureles | The Weekly Letra

Today is June 1st, my santo. It falls on a Friday, so I'm publishing this letra for all of the other Lauras out there:

Tarantos
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De los laureles
dicen que te llamas Laura
Laura de nombre

por nombre Laura
si tú no eres de los laureles
que los laureles son firmes
y tú pa mi no lo eres
dicen que te llamas Laura
Laura de nombre

por nombre Laura

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I Still Remember That First Evening

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I Still Remember That First Evening

I still remember that first evening

Sitting together in the courtyard, eating tapas, sharing stories.

It was the fall of 2012, and we were in Jerez. A group of foreigners together in Spain to learn and grow and have a good time. We danced and laughed, did flamenco, saw flamenco, heard flamenco, breathed flamenco. We walked about the town eating yummy food, drinking sherry and café con leche...

But, wait, let's back up for a moment.

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If You Ever Go To Cádiz | The Weekly Letra

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If You Ever Go To Cádiz | The Weekly Letra

We are studying tangos (with abanico) with Mercedes Ruíz during the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. Naturally, we are LOVING it. The first part of our dance is to this:

Tangos
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Si alguna vez vas a Cádiz
ve por el barrio Santa María
verás los gitanitos
como te cantan con alegría

Tú eres la tonta inocente
tú eres la loquita perdida
cuando tú riñes con tu gente
¿por qué no te vienes a la verita mía?

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My Blood Calms Your Blood | The Weekly Letra

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My Blood Calms Your Blood | The Weekly Letra

Today's letra is an excerpt from a letter (modified to fit the compás) that Simón Bolivar wrote to Manuela Sáenz, a revolutionary heroine from South America who collaborated with Simón Bolivar and is recognized as a feminist symbol of the 19th century wars of independence. I learned about her last night during the show, Mujeres Valientes produced by Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana when I went to see Emilio Ochando perform with the company here in New York ...

Legaste de improviso, como siempre
sonriente, notoria eras tú.

Legaste de improviso, como siempre
sonriente, notoria, te miré.

Mi sangre tu sangre calma
tu sangre la mía amansa.

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Five Things Jesús Carmona Says You Must Include in Your Flamenco Dance Practice (With Videos)

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Five Things Jesús Carmona Says You Must Include in Your Flamenco Dance Practice (With Videos)

What should you do if if you have just 15-20 minutes a day to practice?

That’s what a student asked me to find out when I interviewed Jesús Carmona last month.

Here are the five recommendations he shared along with videos to help you get started on your own at home. (Some of what he advises might surprise you.)

1. Abdominal Exercises

The first thing Jesús mentioned was the need to strengthen our abs. Don't know where to start? Try this:

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Cachito de Pan | The Weekly Letra

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Cachito de Pan | The Weekly Letra

I love creating dances with my nieces. It's always a collective effort. I teach them some moves. They make up some of their own. They put in things they've learned with others. We make up some stuff together. And we come up with a dance.

Here's an estribillo por tangos that Diana will be singing for them this weekend at the feria. (It's actually perfect for them considering they're obsessed with bread.)

Tangos
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Ay lere lere lere cachito de pan
Ay lere lere lere cachito de pan
Ay lere lere lere cachito de pan

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A Piece of Advice From Jesús Carmona (Improvise)

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A Piece of Advice From Jesús Carmona (Improvise)

When Jesús Carmona was here he recommended that every student of flamenco improvise a little bit each day. In honor of that, here's a guided exercise in improvisation along with a video and examples of how a letra can vary.

First, the letra:

In the video example the singer interprets the same bulerías letra in two different ways, which makes it great to practice to.

Version One (5 minutes in)

Dime niña hermosa
quién te peina el pelo
RESPIRO (one compás break, 12 beats)
lo peina un estudiante
te lo riza un artillerooooo... de la artillería
que con gracia y salero

con gracia y salero

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Seven Essential Flamenco Dance Lessons From Jesús Carmona

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Seven Essential Flamenco Dance Lessons From Jesús Carmona

Read on for my seven biggest takeaways from this month's workshops with flamenco maestro Jesús Carmona followed by a challenge for you.

Jesús is all about working hard, breaking things down, and holding high expectations all while having fun. A true master teacher. He sees everybody and expects maximum effort from all. He worked us HARD during the workshops in Portland. It was truly satisfying to see and feel the progress that we made in just four days. How can something be semi-torturous yet completely wonderful at the same time?

Here are seven pieces of advice from Jesús that will help you become a better flamenco dancer.

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I Don't Want You To Talk To Anybody | The Weekly Letra

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I Don't Want You To Talk To Anybody | The Weekly Letra

Last week we were blown away by Jesús Carmona here in Portland. He gave workshops and put on a last-minute show, Ensayo de Una Vida, which he created and debuted right here in town! I'll tell you more about that later. For now, here's a letra and a video of Jesús dancing at Corral de la Moreria. (Below the video you can see some pictures from our workshops last week.)

Soleá
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No quiero que hables con nadie
Sólo con tu confesor
con tu padre
con tu madre

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