After a full week in Jerez flamenco no longer simply surrounds us; it lives inside of us. Sounds from our dances play on repeat in our heads. We unintentionally walk up the steps in compás, the rhythms from class guiding us. We find ourselves dancing bulerías in our sleep. There’s no escaping it,
We are definitely in the midst of a flamenco immersion…
That’s what life was feeling like a week into the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. I’m now back home in Portland, and Jerez feels worlds away. Here’s a summary of the second week of our trip. (You can find out what went on days one through seven here.)
Monday after our morning classes Maribel surprised us with homemade tortilla de patatas and tomates aliñados for lunch. She takes good care of us making sure we feel welcome and happy while we're away from home.
We were rewarded again that evening when we had our private show hosted by Mercedes. Mercedes greeted us at the door then she and Santi served us sherry, sweet (cream) and dry (fino). We enjoyed dance performances by Lucía Ruibal, Vanessa Rodríguez (we saw her do this dance), and Aurora Caraballo along with Javier Peña's singing and Santiago Lara's guitar playing. Of course everybody loved the bulerías Mercedes did during the fin de fiesta. We were all on a high after the show and couldn’t possibly go straight home, so we headed to El Almacén for tapas and a drink. Some of the ladies even felt inspired to dance bulerias in the street, “Someone needs to get up and dance,” Penny said, and before we knew it some of us were up and dancing to live cante in the streets of Jerez. (And yes, our singer got a big tip for all of that.)
Tuesday after our morning technique session with Mercedes we had free time to shop, relax, and just take it easy until our afternoon workshop. In the evening we went on a walking tour of San Miguel, the flamenco neighborhood where we stay during the Flamenco Tour. We ended our walk with a visit to the chocolate shop then closed the night with tapas, Q & A, and bulerías practice on the roof.
In addition to our classes with Mercedes and Ani on Wednesday we worked on palmas because you can’t dance flamenco and not do palmas, especially when it comes to bulerías. In the evening we went on a date with Zorri to El Guitarrón for dinner and a show. We watched Harumi Hata and Kim Macedo perform with Momo Moneo and Ismael Heredia, and, naturally, Zorri got up to dance some bulerías.
Thursday brought another day full of classes. Thank goodness for siesta time! Following our evening workshop with Mercedes we headed to Bodegas Urium. Not only did we taste their fabulous sherry but we were entertained by Papa Alonso singing sevillanas for us to dance to, telling us stories, and making sure we had all kinds of fun.
Friday. Waaaa. Our final day with Mercedes. It’s hard not to miss her kindness and spirit, her beauty and her love of teaching. She REALLY wants her students to get things and to look good while dancing.
It was also our final day of bulerías. With Ani and Esther’s guidance and the support of one another, the ladies went from relying on watching the teacher to dancing as a group, to dancing in pairs, to dancing one by one! Everybody now has a big collection of moves to choose from and develop as they continue on their bulerías journeys.
In the evening we celebrated with a delicious meal at El Porrón prepared for us with lots of love by Maribel and served to us by Luís. What a wonderful way to end the week of classes.
A free day. Some people headed to Cádiz, others stayed home to rest and explore Jerez.
We all met up in the evening to go see Tomasa “La Macanita” sing at Peña Tío de Paula. WOW! We were so fortunate to be in Jerez for this show. People lined up to see this incredible woman right there in her barrio, especially as she very rarely performs in peñas these days.
Sunday was a lazy morning, thank goodness because we were out late at the peña. Some went to visit the alcázar while others just relaxed. In the afternoon we headed to Bodegas Real Tesoro for a tour and to learn more about (and taste) sherry. People were impressed with the grandness of the bodega, its beautiful grounds, and its impressive art collection including original pieces by Picasso and other famous Spanish painters. We ended the day with a celebratory feast. I didn’t take any pictures of the hugging and the tears which is what came after dinner…
One by one the ladies departed. Some went home to their families, others continued their journey traveling on their own or meeting up with family to explore the Iberian peninsula. During the Flamenco Tour we dance and learn and laugh together for two weeks. The group camaraderie is one of my favorite aspects of the trip. It is always hard for me to say goodbye, but the friendships we form are everlasting, and this is a beautiful thing.
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