"I want to be in class with Mercedes ALL of the time." That is what I wrote in my journal on April 13, 2011.
But let's go back in time.
I arrived in Jerez on Friday, March 25 and began investigating classes to take.
Though secretly, I did not want to go to any.
A week in Jerez by myself.
I can't imagine learning flamenco without pens and paper.
I really can't.
On paper I take notes. On paper I figure things out. On paper I put the thoughts from inside my head. And there's just something I like so much about the feel of the pen moving atop the paper...
I often write in little books.
They helped me a lot in the beginning, in Sevilla. They help me today. And they helped me a lot in Jerez.
An excerpt from Spain last year to help explain...
Ok, so there is this one thing I've noticed that really, really, really has a BIG effect on my dancing. Is it the biggest effect? I don't know.
But it's big
I know how important it is, yet I still refuse to consistently give it the credit it deserves.
I want to remember to do it. Or no, not remember, I want to do it even if I don't want to.
You know how much I like stories, so let us begin with a story.
It was a Wednesday much like today, sunny and hot that is. I was in Jerez. It was the spring of 2011...
The rest of the story comes in the form of but another excerpt from my journal.
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.
I guess you could say I was kind of consumed with fear during my time in Jerez. I did things anyway, but I also didn't do things. Below is an excerpt (with some side notes) written during my first week alone there. For those who are new to this blog, I had been in Jerez a couple of weeks before for the Festival. After a brief trip to Portugal, I headed back. I arrived on Friday the 25th and began my search for classes.
Prior to leaving for Spain I knew who I wanted to take from and had names of studios and phone numbers; I even had an idea of when some of the classes were offered. Sí! I had done my research, I promise, as best as I could from Portland, Oregon...I had to for the RACC grant. And during the festival I got an idea of where the studios were located. But I had yet to figure out the class times. Could I have done more to determine this earlier in the month? Perhaps. But figuring out where and when things happen in that town is not as easy as one might think…
Summer (and it's still summer) has been fun and funny in Sevillanas class, and I mean funny in a good way.
Funny laughing a lot while dancing with partners...
And trying to remember what step to do when while looking directly at someone as opposed to looking at yourself in the mirror
Or doing the coplas out of order and forgetting which one we were on
Or the music feeling crazy-fast and us feeling like we were running a marathon just to stay in compás all the while trying to remember the pasos
Or nearly bumping into our partners several thousand times (or perhaps actually bumping into them)
Today, I explain sevillanas...
"I want to be in class with Mercedes ALL of the time." That is what I wrote in my journal on April 13. But let's go back in time.
I came back to Jerez on Friday, March 25 and began investigating classes to take.
But I secretly didn't want to go to any.
A week in Jerez by myself. Poor planning by Laura. When will I learn that it simply is not fun for me to do these things alone? A week spent looking for studios, making calls, trying to understand when and where the different classes took place, feeling relief as I kept arriving at the wrong times and missing them. There is a semi-funny reason for this, but you'll have to wait to hear about it in a future post...I would like to say that this was on account of Spanish unpredictability, but it wasn't.
I am very excited to be teaching Sevillanas again. And, I am newly energized after recently having danced them at the Fería de Caballo in Jerez, In fact, my time there inspired me to teach Sevillanas al estilo de Jerez. Perhaps you're wondering what that means. Perhaps you're worried about what that means. Perhaps you're thinking, "Oh no, she's changing them AGAIN; not another new way!!!" Perhaps you've never done Sevillanas, have no idea what they are and no idea what I'm talking about.
Whatever the case may be, I'm still excited.
The bottom line is that Sevillanas are fun.
GUEST POST This article comes to you from Diana Welch, Oregon photographer, writer, videographer and flamenca. Reflections on her time in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in April.
May 31, 2011
When I first heard that Laura was going to be in Spain for a few months, I wanted to be there, too. Images of sun splashed Arab architecture, flamenco classes, hearing Spanish in the streets, photographic possibilities, intrigued and lured me. Somehow, it came together and after 30 hours of travel from Portland, I was stepping into the culture of Andalucía.
Laura met me at the train station in Jerez. It was a brilliant day and the scent of orange blossoms wafted on a light breeze as we walked to our piso on the other side of town.
I may be one of the few people here in Portland happy to see the rain..It is just so green and beautiful and even more so after having been gone for three months! It truly is wonderful to be home, not that I don't miss Jerez. I miss many things of course: Like getting to speak Spanish all of the time,
And hearing flamenco in so many places,
And drinking fresh squeezed zumo de naranja,
Ooooooooh, and taking advantage of the long siesta each day. - During which time it can be quite difficult to get much done by the way, and I don't just mean because almost all stores are closed. There is this energy that seems to overtake the city. It is odd, like it suddenly becomes Sunday for three to four hours. Often I would come home intending to be "productive," but it was as if the collective rest of the city would allow me to do nothing more than relax...
I am feeling quite behind in blog publication. Every day I feel pressed to get something up but don't end up doing so. Rather than wait any longer and add still more to my collection of daily notes and beginnings of entries, please allow me to express to you briefly some of what has been going through my mind here in Jerez lately.
There are many things I wish to write about how flamenco permeates this city.
Like how just this afternoon on my way home from bata class with Mercedes I heard an old guajiras recording playing as I walked by a house on La Calle Duende. Or how yesterday during siesta on our way to meet a friend for afternoon café the two little boys walking in front of Diana and me were discussing fútbol when suddenly and seemingly without any awareness of it one started doing palmas and singing never losing sight of the conversation he was having with his amigo. Junquerita, who often comes to sing for our bulerías class told me that here in Jerez the scent of flamenco is everywhere; there is no need to go looking for it.
That may be an understatement.
March 13 Sunday Cómo se dice raining cats and dogs in Spanish? For that is what is happening right now as we sit inside El Arco, our apartment here in Jerez. The rain feels nice, refreshing and kind of cozy, this might have something to do with the fact that I don't have to go out in it, olé! And now Jackie has come and brought me a glass of Carlos I, que vida más rica! In other words, we used the weather as an excuse to rest today after another intense week of flamenco.
GUEST POST: Reflections from the experiences of Portland flamenco dancer Jackie Howard Kraybill, "La Juanita," at the Festival de Jerez in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
April 1, 2011
Reflecting back on our time in Jerez for the 2011 Flamenco Festival, it is hard to decide what was most important in making it such a special trip.
First, the great classes: Ana María López teaching the subtleties of timing and gracia in the Bulerías de Jerez; Marco Flores (be still my heart!) teaching a cute and challenging Alegrías. But for me the pinnacle of classes was the one with La Rafi - Rafaela Carrasco. She taught a Serrana, which was a new palo for me and helps the "learn one of everything before I hang up my shoes" list. The choreography, rhythms and movements were as challenging as expected - the first day I thought I was going to pass out from fear. But over the days my confidence grew as I was able to keep up (it was a Medio level class filled with Spanish professionals!) and actually learn and execute the steps. It was an exhilarating feeling, that's for sure. Part of the reason this art form is so addictive!
...This one being Srta. Laura Onizuka during her first week:
Perhaps you're wondering, How might I spend my time were I to attend the Festival de Jerez? Here is what a typical day might include were you to rent a centrally located apartment with some amigos and sign up for a couple of cursillos:
GUEST POST: Below read reflections from a flamenco workshop with Manuel Liñan at the 2011 Festival de Jerez from Heather Williams, flamenca from Portland:
March 1, 2011I'm writing this from Jerez, Spain, where I'm making my first important flamenco pilgrimage: the annual Festival Flamenco de Jerez; an opportunity to study baile with the best dancers, to see performances every night, and just soak up the lively Andalucian culture. Jerez is definitely a flamenco town- walking the narrow winding streets you can hear it everywhere; the guitarist practicing a soleá in a rooftop garden, thundering footwork coming from a tiny studio, and the ubiquitous town drunks, who sing (in several cases, quite beautifully) for a cigarette or a few spare coins. Ah, it's so wonderful to finally be here!