I’m beginning this post just a few days after finding out that Mercedes Ruíz, with whom we had most of our classes in Jerez, was awarded the Flamenco Hoy prize in Spain for the best flamenco dancer (mejor bailaora). Now I feel even more lucky to have been able to learn from her in her studio and to have had such an intensive week and a half of classes with her.
These two days were truly a marathon of flamenco. It was all flamenco, all day long during these two days! We started off both days with our one hour technique class with Mercedes Ruíz, followed by two to two and a half hours of bulerías workshop with Ana María López, a break for lunch and siesta, followed by an hour and a half of castanets class and choreography class with Mercedes, and palmas class with Laura on Friday evening. Have I mentioned how much I loved the choreography we were learning with Mercedes? I can’t wait to revisit it with Laura in Portland. It was also amazing to have acclaimed guitarist Santiago Lara accompanying the choreography portion of our classes with Mercedes.
After our 4-5 hours of dancing each of these two days, in the evenings we got to see three different great shows, two on Thursday and one on Friday. For me, the performance highlight of my summer so far was the show on Thursday night, June 23. This was a private show just for our group at Mercedes’ gorgeous studio in which Mercedes and two of her students (who are also professional dancers) danced, Santiago Lara played guitar and David Lagos sang. David Lagos is also an acclaimed and respected artist, and is one of my favorite flamenco singers. Mercedes opened our little private show with a “brindis”, or toast, with sherry of course, after which we were treated to some world class flamenco mere feet in front of our faces, where all of us had front row seats. We also were able to purchase CD’s and get them personally autographed right then and there. As exciting as that was, the flamenco fun wasn’t over for the day just yet!
After the private show at Mercedes’ studio, we headed just down the street to Peña la Bulería, practically across from our apartments, where there was yet another Fin de Curso show happening, like on our first night in Jerez. Once again, the music was great, and the young performers were unbelievably talented and confident. And once again the sherry-fueled fun went on late into the night, despite the fact that it was largely a children´s recital.
After our rigorous schedule of classes the next day, which was also our last bulerías class with Ani, we had another night of flamenco revelry ahead of us, but first it was time for another palmas session with Laura on the apartment rooftop. This one turned into more of a palmas party though, with everyone pitching in something such as wine, or almonds, or jamón and enjoying the sunset view together.
The photo above is after our last class with Ana María López at Peña los Cernícalos. We’ll miss her and her assistants and Zorri.
That night there was a musical performance at the same peña as the previous night, Peña la Bulería, but this time the performers were professional well-known artists who were from Jerez. Cantaor Manuel de la Nina was the star attraction of the night, and was accompanied by Pepe del Morao, the grandson of Manuel Morao whose exhibit opening we had been at only a couple of days before. Although there was no dancing at this show, the level of intensity and energy was every bit as exciting, and the talent and arte were invigorating. We also saw lots of faces that were becoming familiar to us after a week in Jerez, including Pepe, the bartender at one of the bars down the street where we often had coffee in the morning. He introduced us to his best friend, who invited us to a round of sherry.
(Photo above by Laura Onizuka)
Next up….last days in Jerez before heading off to Granada!