February 26 Saturday Our first day of classes...Nervous as ever to go to Manuel Liñan's class, and I think my nerves were contagious. Sorry, Heather. We were like eager kindergartners on the first day of school arriving 20 minutes early, the first ones there, I don't know if I've ever been the first to arrive. Actually, Manolillo was there and even said hi - we soooo enjoyed class. Went to find the supermarket afterward, and on the way (I hadn't put my jacket on yet; it was warm and we'd just worked hard!) I pass an older woman on the street. Without making eye contact she looks at my clothes and says, "Hija, hace calor pero tampoco para irte así" Haha, I love Spain! Went home to make lunch, rest a bit and review what we'd learned in class. Then off to afternoon class with Marco Flores. Was wonderful to see him again and to thank him in person for the letter of invitation he wrote me to come to the festival. Gracias, Marco! And so great to get to study with him again, he truly has un corazón gigantísimo. !Que suerte tengo de verdad!

February 27 Sunday Reminded of being in college today: staying here in the apartment with Jackie and Heather, our humble kitchen and bathroom, being cold at night and trying to keep warm in our little beds, giggling and being silly, taking care of each other as best we can...

February 28 Monday Arrived at the studio this morning to see everyone gathered outside trying to stay warm, including Manolillo. People were trying to figure out how to get in when a voice comes from inside saying they can't figure out how to open the door...huh? Someone looks in the peep hole and reports that they see a car inside, again, huh? Finally, about 3 minutes before class was scheduled to begin the big metal door opens and a giant black BMW SUV appears with Antonio el Pipa driving. I never did figure out what was going on; maybe he was trying to fix the floor...today they added duct tape to the seams, brilliant...This is one of Antonio's spaces, apparently one he wants to convert into a studio but has yet to finish. I like to pretend we're dancing in his garage. The floor is horrible: many wooden boards stuck together with staples and plopped on top of concrete without any additional shock absorption, no wonder our legs and feet hurt so much. Anyway, shared a café again after class with Heather at El Arriate, a sweet man named Ricardo's flamenco bar...and he's ALWAYS there, from morning until the middle of the night.  Stopping for coffee after class seems to have become quite routine for us. Today we discovered that one of the things each of us was most looking forward to in coming to Spain was having coffee. Not only is it so deliciously rich but it symbolizes relaxation. A break during the day and time to chat with a friend - mmmm, café con leche, café solo...

March 1 Tuesday Woke up this morning relieved to realize that I had only four more days of classes with Manuel Liñan, mostly from fear of him being disgusted by inability to correctly execute his moves...Then a strange thing happened; I started class and while the fear remained, enjoyment took over.   He gave us such a tongue twister of a footwork step today.  If I keep doing this I know I'll never get dementia. Oh, and apparently it finally clicked to him today that he knew me from before, "Tú estabas en Albuquerque, verdad?" he said smiling. "Qué?" I replied. He repeated himself getting closer to me and putting his finger out. I gave him a little poke and smiled, "Sí, con las cucarachas." He chuckled. (More about Albuquerque and the cucarachas some other time...)  Saw Javier Barón tonight, after three nights we finally got a good show! Que talento. Loved Raúl Rodríguez walking/dancing alone on the stage as he played a solo on his Cuban tres and then made what I think might have been the coolest transition into a guajiras ever - if only I had a recording of this! What else? Oh machine gun sounds coming from the feet of these dancers made me wonder if they were actually humans or robots.

March 2 Wednesday Just returned from watching a tall, lanky man in a kelley green Medeivalish outfit dance something I can't quite classify with the largest mantón in all of españa - possibly one of the weirdest things I've ever seen yet strangely incredibly inspiring. Sitting in el Teatro Villamarta with throbbing feet and legs and an aching body, sleepy, none of that mattered; I so enjoyed this show and Rubén Olmo. What else happened today, another set of amazing classes...including a very Spanish moment when the lights went out halfway through class with Manolillo. Turns out the government for some reason cut the electricity for the whole block, we never did find out why. But he kept us dancing in the dark, nothing stops this guy. And then there was café with the ever so sweet Marco Flores after class while he filled me in on his life as a flamenco dancer. As I sit here with frozen fava beans on my feet, I know I am such lucky lady, and one who should go to bed so that I have some energy for class tomorrow morning...

March 3 Thursday Well, I guess I just need to get used to being inspired daily and at any moment... Started crying in class today while dancing our tientos. I was so moved by our incredible singer, Vicente Gelo of Sevilla and just by the arte I've been witnessing on a daily basis in class watching Manolillo. Does he know I sometimes completely lose my ability to think or function when I'm suddenly struck by his genius? After class as Heather and I walked down the Calle Idolos we passed by the garbage man who was whistling por tientos, unbelievable; this town truly is flamenco. In afternoon class with Marco doing our warm up footwork drills, I watched him put every ounce of his energy into his technique and into trying to get us to do the same, seemingly very happy to do so and wondered where in the world all of that energy comes from. Then tonight we went to Javier LaTorre's show. Definitely not for all, but I think I've found the show for those of you who want to understand flamenco and all of its rhythms. I was blown away by Cristián Lozano's farruca performed as Descartes. Then I saw a guajiras duet between an animated dancer and a live one; the emotion that came out of those sketches, wow. And unfortunately I missed probably the most wonderful dance of the show, a soleá performed by Karen Lugo, due to the fake intermission...Jackie had remained at her seat, she said all of a sudden the curtain opened and the show started while everyone was still standing in the aisles talking, so weird.  I came back from the restroom to see a group of people huddled by the door; we were locked out of the theatre, not allowed to go back in until the audience started clapping, but at least I was stuck out there with Manuel Liñan and Joaquin Grilo and could see a bit from the little window in the door...and at least I'll be here for awhile longer and possibly get another opportunity to see this dance. "El flamenco es para gozar," I'm happy to recall this line which was repeated in the show last night when I worry about not looking good enough or being a good enough dancer...

March 4 Friday Final day of classes, diplomas delivered, we made it through the first week! And it felt good to really just dance the choreographies today, even with the mistakes. Made to feel special by Marco when he had me stand front and center for the video taping...ay! Doesn't he know I always hide in one of the back corners in classes? He removed me from my comfort zone, but it actually felt ok. And onto the show, I think I may have died and gone to guajiras heaven here in Jerez, and I thought I was coming to bulerías heaven, but I'm sure that's on it's way. Anyhow, I saw/heard the third beautiful, beautiful guajiras since I've been here. Tonight's was by Isabel Bayón . Wow, what a show, definitely the best one yet; Isabel danced the whole show herself, and I never tired of watching her. I couldn't remove the smile from my face during her garrotin, which she danced with an imaginary sombrero...olé. However I am now feeling even more sad that I do not get to study with her in Sevilla as I'd hoped since she will be in Madrid all year. Oh and the beautiful singing by David Lagos and El Londro and the guitar of Jesus Torres and Cano, the percussion of José Carrasco. Let me leave you with this that I heard in the show tonight, "Yo me enamoré no del baile del arte.

March 5 Saturday A day off, ahhhhhhhhhhh, happy feet and brain. Plus, it's my birthday! Got to walk around Jerez this morning and enjoy seeing the locals go about their Saturday doings with family and friends. Walked by a place called Casa Damas. The woman told me they had flamenco today and showed me the poster. I saw that it started at 5pm and mentioned to her that seemed early, "Vamos," she said, "Maybe it will start at 5, maybe later, get here when you can and have a drink and see." Encountered a group of people dressed up as clowns and Native Americans in the street -probably for the Carnaval de Cadiz which is going on right now- one of them asked me where the train station was...I love it when Spanish people confuse me for a Spanish person! I love it when the car that stops to let me cross the street is playing flamenco music. I love it when the waiter at the bar is friendly and happy to see us return and that I can hear someone inside spontaneously begin playing palmas for a bit. Missed Miguel Poveda tonight because it was sold out; I mistakenly thought tickets to his show came with our registration...sigh. But Jackie and Heather took me out to a scrumptious birthday dinner. (Little did they know that in Spain on your birthday you're actually supposed to be the one paying...hee hee.) One week here and we have yet to have a really late night, there's still time, or are we just too American? In any case, tomorrow begins a new round of workshops, very much looking forward to having class in the bodega!

Oh, and there are numerous places online to read reviews of the festival, but here is the link from el Diario de Jerez.

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