From Jerez last fall ...

Sunday night I was writing

About flamenco and Jerez and what I'm doing here and what I want to learn here.

And I set some intentions for the week.

I had a few.

One was to Observe

To observe people dancing bulerías.  In class and out.  Anywhere.  Especially people whose dancing I liked.

To watch them, really watch them.  And to notice what was happening.

To notice how they responded to the cante.

To notice how they danced with the compás.

To notice when they did what they did.

to notice the things I liked.

Maybe even to notice the things I didn't like.

On Monday morning I went to bulerías class

I ran into Zorri in the street.  You can see him dance at the end of the post. 

"Que hay, Laura?" he said.

"I'm great," I told him.  And we entered the peña together.

Class had already started.

It was in fact well under way.

I had asked Stefani to go ahead with everyone and told her that I'd meet them there.

So Zorri and I walked in to find our group sitting in a small circle in the middle of the studio.  Maybe it was like the circle I kept seeing in my head before that first trip to Spain.  It was just Ani, Junquerita, and Antonio, and us.

The teacher, the singer, and the guitarist, and our group.

You see, on Thursday I had asked Ani if she would show the ladies what it looked like to dance en una losa, to dance on a floor tile.  On one floor tile.

I told her how I had tried to explain this to Pat when we were home in Portland and how it had intrigued her.

So when they arrived at the peña Monday morning, she said she was going to show them how to dance in a losa.

I'll come back to that in a few of days, because it's important,

But today I need to tell you about how she read my mind

Because that's what she did.

Ani read my mind.

And somehow she knew my intention.


Ani told us that that as a little girl she had always observed.  Observaba todo.  Everything.

She told us of how she would go to the peñas, and there she would observe.

Where the guitarists put the falsetas

When people got up to dance

Where they said the jaleos

What they did with the palmas

Stuff like that ...

She observed, and she learned.

So we paid attention.

And I noticed a lot.

Little things and bigger things.

Concepts and cositas.

cositas - little things

I noticed the dancers I liked at ease and enjoying themselves, listening constantly to the cante, reacting and responding to it, following it while being themselves at the same time.

Of course I noticed lots of other things too.

And as the day went on I thought more about observation

I thought about the many opportunities I had to observe and learn from people.

All day long and everywhere.

I thought about taking the concept beyond flamenco and learning about a lot more than just bulerías.

I started thinking about all of the ladies on the trip with me.

And how I had observed them in action and how they each had qualities that I admired ...

There was someone who took care of everyone, another who made us all laugh.  Someone so full of energy who acted quickly and got things done, another who listened intently and observed constantly.  Someone who always  considered others, who also acted with caution.  Someone who inspired us all with her perseverance and another who seemed to always be smiling, and I noticed how good and calm that made me feel.

I realized I can always learn by observation.

At every moment.

And once again, I thanked flamenco for teaching me about life.

That's Zorri by the way.  (Otherwise known as Pepe Dominguez Garrido)  Talk about someone to observe.  And fortunately for us he frequents bulerías class the time so we get to see him a lot...

But you get to see him Now

What do you notice about his dancing?  About José Mendez's singing?  About the guitar?  And what about the palmas?  And what about each thing in relationship to the others?  Tell us what you observe.  You can leave a comment here.

Would you like to be there too

I'm going back to Jerez in May for more bulerías with Ani, and you can come too.  Click here to get on the list.