Below Diana Welch, Oregon photographer, writer, videographer and flamenca shares one of her experiences with bulerías last Spring during her time in Jerez. Reading her story brought back memories of practicing with her in the living room, kitchen, wherever we could make it work. I also remember that she took a bus for about an hour to get to class, dedicada. Enjoy… Here in her blog, Laura has been discussing her learning process with respect to bulerías. While Laura and I are in different stages on the bulerias learning continuum, I experienced a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel in my own beginning class in Jerez last April.
Thanks to Laura’s connections in her class with Mercedes, I found myself studying bulerías with Maria Angeles, a warm, lively Jerezana who exudes a passion for flamenco. For several evenings over a month, I struggled with the form and choreography of a bulería the class had been working on before my arrival. I was intimidated, but Maria Angeles and her students were so supportive that I cast aside most of my insecurity and got to work. This work consisted of analyzing the dance on my little video camera and writing down each step. Laura helped me to understand the bulerías step and then I practiced to combine it with the rest of the choreography. As the month progressed, I was able to keep up a bit more during each class. However, it was still a struggle to remember the steps in the correct sequence.
As my departure from Spain loomed, I decided I was going to learn the dance, in spite of obstacles (both imagined and real). I wanted Maria Angeles and my fellow students to know that I, an American, could learn it and that I cared about their heritage.
The last night I attended class, I felt ready. We danced the bulería. I kept up and was relieved to see that I finished in sync with everyone. I knelt over to fix my shoe strap and when I looked up, I was surrounded by the class, including Maria Angeles. They were clapping for me. They congratulated me on the fact that I had learned the dance and thanked me for attending class with them.
The photo conveys the poignant, celebratory moment. Hours later, I flew home with gratitude for this brief time with a few Andalucian women who welcomed me into their flamenco fold.