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How Old is Too Old to Begin Dancing Flamenco? (and a Must-Watch video)

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How Old is Too Old to Begin Dancing Flamenco? (and a Must-Watch video)

When is it too late to start learning flamenco? Find out below and watch a video of Mercedes Ruíz dancing as a little girl along with a bulerías clip from Carlos Saura's Flamenco Flamenco.

According to Mercedes Ruíz, "It's never too late do what you want to do." Sure, she began dancing flamenco at the age of four, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are doomed.

I began dancing flamenco at the age of twenty three, or was it twenty two? Pat began when she was sixty nine. Becky began when she was forty four. Many of the dancers I know began in their thirties, forties, fifties, and even sixties. Many danced at a young age then stopped for various reasons only to come back to it years later.

We can begin dancing flamenco at any age

And there is no 'retirement age' for flamenco dancing. We can leave it and come back. And we can continue dancing flamenco as long as we want to. This is something that I absolutely love about flamenco.

It is a dance for all ages.

Older flamenco dancers are in fact respected and honored. This is part of the flamenco culture. (See video clips below.)

A younger dancer may have different goals than an older dancer. And one's desires as a dancer may change over time, just as desires around all things in life will evolve.

But the bottom line is this,

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Bulerías de Jerez in Jerez

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Bulerías de Jerez in Jerez

Bulerías doesn’t exist anywhere as it does in Jerez.

It’s just its own thing there

And that's that.

That's why they call it Bulerías de Jerez.

I'm not saying you have to be in Jerez to do bulerías or anything like that.

Not at all.

You can find and do bulerías all over the place.

Nor am I saying you have to be from Jerez to do awesome bulerías.

Not at all.

(Many of you know how Ricardo first got me with his bulerías back in 2006. )

But, anyway, bulerías de Jerez, in Jerez

In Jerez you hear bulerías all over the place.

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La Luneta | Viernes con una Letra

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La Luneta | Viernes con una Letra

On Friday I went to the Peña la Bulería. As you may recall, it is literally steps away from our apartments here in Jerez. I was feeling sleepy and my legs were not looking forward to standing on the hard marble floor after having spent a good deal of time in flamenco shoes and walking on hard streets that day, but once there I was glad I went. As usual.

A young singer named Enrique Remache was performing.

I heard many fantastic letras, like like this one, and jaleos, and took great pleasure in witnessing the reactions of the público.

The reactions

Always one of my favorite aspects of seeing flamenco in Jerez. Men looking at each other and laughing with pleasure upon hearing a particular thing sung a particular way. I won't try to explain this. Just please visit Jerez sometime in your life, and see.

I also love seeing the mix of generations at the peña shows. Teenagers to people in their 70's voluntarily going to hear flamenco.

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I Want to Get Drunk | Viernes con una Letra

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I Want to Get Drunk | Viernes con una Letra

It is Halloween, and I just returned home from the peña. I am in Jerez.

On the way I saw a family dressed up in zombie-style Halloween costumes. Their two dogs were dressed as jack-o-lanters.

At the peña

We saw Manuel Agujetas Hijo sing with Domingo Rubichi accompanying on guitar.

Below is a letra por fandangos that he sang.

(You can hear El Chocolate singing it here.)

Fandangos

No me quites la botella
que yo me quiero emborrachar 
no me quites la botella
voy a beber de verdad 
y a ver si no pienso en ella 
y yo la consigo olvidar

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Sleeping with Bulerías | Viernes con una Letra

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Sleeping with Bulerías | Viernes con una Letra

Below find a snippet of my journal from Jerez, a video of Mercedes Ruíz dancing bulerías, a letra por bulerías, and a short activity for you to do while watching the video.

October 30, 2013

I played bulerías to help me fall asleep during siesta time.

Bulerías with lots of palmas and jaleos of course.

Who does that?

Someone who is in Jerez I guess.

Someone who is in Jerez and  just can't get enoughIt's a good thing I'm going back.

I listened to one that I recorded at the peña last night.

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Dancing Bulerías in San Miguel | Viernes con una Letra

oday in bulerías at Los Cernícalos I heard Junquerita sing this letra, along with this one, and a bunch of others. Because he sings and sings and sings and sings as people dance and dance and dance and dance. It is great.

Then Ani wanted to teach everyone some new moves. She talked about how changing your bulerías moves is kind of like changing your clothes. You might put on a different shirt one day but wear the same skirt from the previous day. Or perhaps you'll change both. It just depends. 

The point is you choose.

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A Dose of Difficulty, por favor

It was November 2012, and I was in Jerez.  My exotic pets had all gone home, except for one that is.  And I kept getting messages, important messages... November 7, 2012

I started getting them about a week ago, the messages.  Or that's when I started hearing them.

They were sent on various occasions.

But always during class.

And they were all more or less the same.

Occasion #1  |  Monday morning at the peña

Things changed in bulerías this week.

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A Nod to Jerez, and Bulerías

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A Nod to Jerez, and Bulerías

I've been in Jerez for about a month now.  Kind of immersed in bulerías.  They're everywhere.  And I love them more and more each day.  Really.

So here begins a little series.  A nod to Jerez as I get ready to go.  I'm leaving for Madrid in a few hours...

Un saludo a Jerez como ya me voy.

Because bulerías doesn’t exist anywhere as it does here.  And if it did, it wouldn’t be what it is.

It’s just its own thing here.

And that's that.

I'm not saying you have to be in Jerez to do bulerías or anything like that.  No, no.  I’ll keep dancing them in Portland, of course, because there's no way I can stop.  And we have a lot of fun doing bulerías in Portland, even though it's not the same.  

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I Almost Didn't Go

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I Almost Didn't Go

I left almost immediately after the show ended last night.

And people said,  ¿Te vas Laura, Ya? 

"You're leaving, now?"

Sí, me voy.

Even though the show just ended. I wasn't even waiting to see if something exciting happened next.  I wasn't even staying to socialize some more. I was going home as early as 12:30 am...

Sí.

It was a peña show last night. At Peña La Bulería.

Read on for a video and a story

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An email from Becky...read it

Ok, so I told you that I might share some bulerías tesoros directly from the mouth of Ana María López with you today or tomorrow.  Well, it's not happening today because I just got this great email from Becky. Becky is a student.  She came on the Spain Tour.

Below you'll find an email that she sent to her husband.

She passed it along to me. and I asked her if I could post it.  She was sending it to me for me, but she very graciously agreed.

I read it as a series of snapshots showing how life has been going here in Jerez, which is why I wanted to share it with all of you. So, here you go, from Becky...

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A Show in Jerez on a Saturday Night

La Gitanería is having these Saturday night flamenco cante shows.  There was one last night.  It started at 10:30.  Only, it didn’t actually begin until 11:30, maybe even a bit later than that.  We didn’t even start walking there until after 11. As we came in we walked by Diego del Morao.  He was not performing, just hanging out...

The first set was excellent.  Two young guys, a singer and a guitarist.  Sorry, I don't know their names.  The first set also ended up being the only set.

It was one of those Jerez shows where most of the people in the audience are Jerezanos.

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A Snippet from Jerez

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A Snippet from Jerez

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. 

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Festival de Jerez 2011 - Week Two

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Festival de Jerez 2011 - Week Two

March 6 Sunday There is a different energy this week compared to last week.  Is it due to the rain?  - actually closer to the way I remember spring weather in Spain -  Or perhaps it is that some of the excitement has worn off?  Or is it that I am taking classes by myself this week, without any of my compañeras from home.  I was only signed up for one festival course, so I decided to take a tangos workshop from Tatiana Ruíz, the daughter of Chiqui de Jerez.  The girl ought to be a sergeant in the US Army, though I suppose she talks too much for that.  In any case, she worked us hard today and clearly took great pleasure in doing so.  My brain quickly went into overload as I tried to execute the steps at a seemingly impossible pace while at the same time struggling to understand how in the world Tatiana moved her body as she did.  Later that afternoon I headed to my bata de cola class with Alicia Márquez.  It moved slowly, so I was able to get things, but still, how ever do I get this awkward train to cooperate and do what Alicia's does?!  As I walked down the halls of the bodega after class, I poked my head in the various rooms and fantasized that it was my home.

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