Ok, so I'm not in Flamenco Land anymore, but here is más o menos what I've been up to in Portland flamenco-wise during the month of June, followed by a little taste of what my friends were busy with in Jerez.
Getting Back to Regular Classes I was beyond excited to begin teaching again, inspired by my time in España and ready to share new insights and material. And I still feel this way, motivated just being at the studio with friends and students. There were many cookies in class to celebrate during those first couple of weeks and even fake cava. Actually, the cookies continued showing up throughout the month. And about the classes, hmm, Palmas has possibly been my favorite thus far providing the most unsolicited laughter. We played around with many funky patterns and got into some nice grooves. I love the collective energy we generate doing this; it just feels so good, and therapeutic. Oh, and Boyfriend (aka the metronome) made only one appearance, but he'll be back. La verdad is that I'm really liking all of the classes, especially the new Saturday ones. It truly does feel good to be back. And I am so grateful to Lillie, Stefani, Brenna, Kethrin, & Heather for keeping the energy going and teaching while I was in Spain. (Lillie and Brenna couldn't quite get enough and are now running their own classes at the studio!)
The Wisdom of First Graders I had great fun doing a residency at Ainsworth Elementary, even more so than last year. The idea was for me to instruct the kids, but they wouldn't stop teaching me things...as I should have imagined. Just as the kids in my own classroom used to. It is a dual-immersion program, so all instruction and communication happened en español. In the beginning we discussed mistakes. How they would happen and SHOULD happen and were a necessary part of the learning process and how we just needed to go for it and try our best. The kids embraced this concept and seemed to approach their flamenco learning much like they did their Spanish learning. There were a few perfectionists, but they all went for it. Every day, without fear, without unnecessary amounts of thinking, trying things out, just doing them, making an effort to get the little details without getting hung up on stuff...Equivocándose sín miedo. And they ALL sang, danced, and did palmas for their performance on the fifth and final day. Who says there's not enough time to prepare for the student show in October?
En fín: The first graders reminded me not to worry so much about what the other guy is thinking because... ..Does it really matter? .. . . And...Are those other guys really paying any attention to me anyway? .... . . And...Isn't it really about how I feel?
Gracias niños. I could use these lessons más a menudo.
The Juerga - Portland Style So, the June Juerga. I know some wonder, just what is a Juerga-Portland Style? Well, I don't really know. It is something that most certainly needs a new name. The basic idea: A party where we eat and get to do this thing we love because most of our regular friends want nothing to do with us when we start talking flamenco...or being flamenco:
Like a couple of weeks ago when I was at the Kennedy School having a perfectly regular evening with Felicia and Katie - yes, a couple of those non-flamenco friends. I don't quite know what happened, but someone said something which somehow caused me to react with a little flamenco head flip along with a couple of palmas which in turn caused Felicia and Katie to shake their heads at me as they often do thinking, "There she goes, doing her weird stuff again.."
So, anyway...We need these gatherings. And we never quite know just how each juerga will go. But Saturday's was fun, and we had a fabulous mix of people. Some new flamencos, some regulars, and some supportive family members as well. The paella was spicy but good. We decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to have paella at all of the juergas - at least the summer ones - and quite alright to stray from the tradicional as we are, after all, in Portland, Oregon, and our juergas are, after all, far from being auténticas, whatever that means. We made music and danced in the family room without flamenco shoes to keep things a bit more casual. In the end though, the few of us who remained ended up in the studio in the garage. Thank you, Stefani for hosting, and thanks to everyone for coming. If you missed it, don't worry you can come to the next one in July.
TraCaTRA And now I'm getting ready for the upcoming event on July 10 with guest artist Danica Sena of San Francisco. It will be quite different from any thatwe've done in the past as far as repertoire and the added post-show DANCE PARTY! I'm looking forward to new pieces, to dancing with Danica, to getting to dance to TWO singers, and to collaborating with Mark Ferguson on guitar, Jason Butler-McNeil on flute, (Thank you Brenna for finding him) and Diana Bright singing. Danica comes to Portland each summer thanks to Oregon Ballet Theatre. Since her first visit here she has been supportive of the flamenco community, demonstrating a sincere desire to meet and connect with the Portland Flamencos. I was blown away by her energy when I met her for the first time at OBT. Seriously, she is like the Energizer Bunny; it's wild. A couple of years ago, after a full day of teaching, she participated in the workshops we were having with Timo Lozano. Last summer, again, after having taught all day, she stopped by my Por Fiesta class at the Krakow Cafe and joined in our practice session at the end singing and doing palmas. I am so excited for her to share her talents with us in this show and as a guest teacher in some of our classes this month.
Mientras Tanto en Jerez My friends in Jerez got done performing in the Fin de Curso last weekend. (The culmination of classes for the year) "Te tienes que quedar Laura para hacer el Fín de Curso con nosotras!" they kept telling me. Well, I wasn't able to do that, and actually I'm not sure that I mind because how HOT it must have been. Plus I'm just glad to be home. But oh how I would have liked to have seen them perform.
I would love to hear your thoughts. ¿Qué piensa? Leave a comment below.