Sevilla 2008 Part IX-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part IX

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Monday June 23, 2008
    Freddie had another lesson with Paco tonight. I think Paco should specialize in rehabilitation for guitarists with hand problems. He is doing wonders with Freddie. With each lesson Freddie improves. I am videoing the classes so we all will have a record of this amazing work. Later, Paco will go through and choose snippets for our web pages. Paco living Freddie a lesson.
My son Elun called us tonight and said that his wife Donna would not be coming to Spain with Elun and Josephine. Donna is swamped with work related to her university teaching position and managed to have the air miles used for her trip transferred back into my father’s account. So just Elun and Josephine will arrive on Wednesday. Freddie and I will both miss Donna a lot. We were looking forward to seeing her too.
    My father called today too. He and his wife Peggy are on vacation in France and he has called several times. We love hearing from him. He has a GSM cell phone that works very well in Europe. The connections have been “crystal clear”. He will call again when Elun and Josie are here. I feel connected!
    We called Freddie’s mother Bea the other day and talked to her too. It was nice. For that we used a calling card and called from our house phone.

Friday July 4, 2008
    It’s been so long since I wrote. And today I feel lethargic and unhappy, sad and depressed. My body hurts and I just don’t feel happy or comfortable. I feel like sleeping but I don’t want to. I want to write, but feel stuck.
       I came home from a massage today to find my internet out. Angel had tried to put a bigger antenna on his router to help my connection. It didn’t work so he put the old one back on. His internet worked but my connection stopped. He bought me an extender to plug in, but nothing has gotten me back on the internet. I can access it if I am way up the stairs. I think he broke the antenna or faced it in a different direction, which he doesn’t think he has. I guess I am an internet-access addict. I don’t like being without it when I’m counting on it.
    At least, before the internet stopped working, I found out that Elun and Josie arrived back home safely. We had a wonderful visit with them, although we all missed Donna. I spent the whole delightful week sightseeing instead of dancing. I played tourist and we walked outside in the heat of the day, something most Spaniards would view as being totally foolhardy. Most people sleep and eat in the hottest part of the day and they avoid going out mid-day like the plague. But we had sights to see and just a week to do it all.
    I don’t know how the Spaniards do it, they get to bed late and get up early. I usually take a siesta and I am sleeping many hours and so I get up late, in addition to my nap. I don’t want to be that sleepy. Elun and Josie slept a lot too, so at least I was in good company.
We went to the Giralda and the Alcazar. We all went for a buggy ride in Parque (Park) Maria Luisa. Josie loved the young puppy that the driver had up in the seat with him. And she loved the horses. Buggy ride and Alcazar & horses and buggies.
    On the way to La Giralda, Elun, Josie and I walked past some tourist shops. (Freddie stayed home and practiced his guitar). We stopped in one and bought Josie a red and white polka dot flamenco dress and some matching Flamenco shoes, with a little heel. We also got her a pack of Flamenco adornments, which included a tall red plastic comb, some other smaller white and yellow ones, red plastic earrings, and some red and white plastic bracelets. She loved them.
    We continued on, Josie dressed in her Flamenco outfit and riding in her stroller, until we entered the Giralda. Then Josie jumped up and started running wildly around the huge, cool Cathedral, her new shoes clip clopping like horses. Her balance was perfect even in the brand new polka dot shoes with heels, and she looked so adorable in her outfit that she became a center of attention. Many of the other tourists took photos of her, some with their cell phones. A Dutch woman who took a marvelous photo with her phone promised to email me a copy, but I haven’t received it (yet).
I have some photos I took in the tourist shop on the web already: Sevilla 2008-Writings and Photos/Josie's visit.
    One night we went to a local playground/park with Soleá and Pili. We arrived at ten at night and the park was filled with children. We stayed until eleven, and Josie played on the slides and swung in a big-kids’ swing. She had a wonderful time. Of course Soleá helped; she was fabulous with Josie, and they have become great friends. Josie called her “Toleeah” and warmed up to her very quickly.
    The other person she adored was Paco, Soleá’s father. It started when Paco was playing the guitar. Josie went right over and started to pluck the strings. Paco helped her and for a while sat her on his lap while he played, and then while she played. Josie was entranced by the guitar. (See same link as before): Sevilla 2008-Writings and Photos/Josie's visit .
    After that, whenever she came over she would ask for Paco. She remembered and said his name immediately. She also enjoyed stamping her feet on my stage. I danced for her and so did Lakshmi. We took Elun and Josie to see Lakshmi dance at Los Palacios (the club where Lakshmi used to work and is currently substituting for a pregnant dancer). Josie definitely liked Flamenco, especially the rhythms and the guitar. And she loved her little dress and shoes.
    Of course Josie loved her grandparents too. Whenever Freddie wasn’t with us, Josie would ask, “What is Grandpa Freddie doing?”
    We went out to eat in a fancy restaurant with Cihtli and Ethan the second day Josie was here and it was too much for a two year old. She hadn’t recovered from hardly sleeping during the long plane ride to Sevilla or the change in hours, schedules, and that Mommy wasn’t there. She was definitely a tired and active two-year old that night and Elun had his hands full. She wanted to run everywhere, including out the door and into the street.
    But later on she became more used to things and life got easier. I think she was really adjusting to this strange schedule when they had to return to New York. She learned “gracias” and “adios” while she was here. By the end of the trip she also responded in the right way when people spoke to her in Spanish.
    She was so cute and sweet. I know I’m the grandmother, but other people thought so too and everyone said “Que guapa” (how beautiful) she was. (See this link for photos of the second half of their visit): Sevilla 2008-Writings and Photos/Josie's visit-more.
    Now Josie and Elun are back in New York. They left last Thursday. I have the recent photos of the trip up on my computer screen saver and desktop.
    Cihtli and Ethan left last Tuesday and now they are also back in the States. I miss them too. Yesterday I found myself looking at the people at Bar Hercules, hoping that Cihtli was there, getting a coffee or juice before going to the studio.
My friend Rina left today. We got together yesterday after my class with Pilar. She had taken cante classes from Juan every day since I had recommended him.
    I actually went to Juan and Lucy’s to meet her, because she and two Japanese Flamenco men named Masa were there helping Juan and Lucy put in Venetian blinds. Rina is Japanese, but lives in Atlanta and is married to an American. She speaks Japanese, perfect English, and Spanish. Her daughter is fluent in Japanese speech and writing. She and the “Masas” were speaking Japanese mixed with Spanish.
    As I have written, Rina and I met in Pilar’s class last year and we corresponded some by email. She also read my Sevilla writings and contacted me here before arriving in Spain this time.
    She has more energy than anyone I know. She only sleeps five hours a night and takes Flamenco classes or practices the rest of the time –A woman after my own heart. Juan and Lucy said she was a very quick learner and did everything well. Not only that, she is extremely beautiful and a very nice person. She may come out to workshops at our place in California. Her friend Rebecca, whom we met with Cihtli and Ethan, wants to come out too. That would be fun. We all like studying the same kind of Flamenco, the traditional Gypsy dancing of southern Spain.
    Pilar finally came back to teach class last Tuesday and so Elun and Josie got to see a class. They weren’t too impressed because Pilar hardly got up at all to show us anything and she had the other student there demonstrate things. She also started late and then was out in the hall talking on her cell phone while we warmed up. This year Pilar’s classes are not nearly as good as they were last year.
    After that class is when we took Elun and Josie to see Lakshmi dance. Freddie drove his wheelchair there and back. We, of course, walked next to him, Josie in her stroller.
    I also brought Elun and Josie to see Concha on Wednesday. Concha was finishing teaching a class to our friend Susan when we arrived at her studio. So we watched the end of class. Elun was impressed with how much more of a giving and responsible teacher Concha was than Pilar the night before. He loved Concha’s enthusiasm and her way of breaking things down.
    Susan is making good progress with Concha’s teaching. She is also going through many of the emotions I did in 1999 when I was first taking classes from Concha, also private lessons. As I have said before, that experience totally changed my dancing and my knowledge level. I am forever grateful to Concha for that. Concha loved getting to see Josephine. She had met Elun and Donna in 2001 in California, long before they had become parents.
    We had a summer heat wave while Elun and Josie were here, and it was even hotter than normal. But we all had air conditioning. And we managed to survive the heat when we went outside.
In general, a funny thing that I forgot to nmention is that bright red pants for men have come into style here. I first noticed the red pants style, when we saw Concha’s son, Quintin, who was dressed entirely in red, perform at the Alameda. You may have seen that in the photos of him on the website. Later we saw an elderly man at Casa Badia in bright red pants and a tie. And recently Paco wore red pants when he performed in Triana. I see them more on the street too. But I am still not used to them. However, the style will probably come to the US next year.
    Tonight we have tickets to Son de la Frontera but we found out that Concha is dancing with Angelita Vargas in Las Cabezas, about 50 minutes away by car. We may go in Lucy’s car with Delia and Francesca. Juan doesn’t want to go. We saw Juan while we were eating breakfast today. He was coming back from the market and was heading home to play guitar. (Freddie walked to breakfast today without a cane!) Lucy’s car is very old and we were warned that we might not make it! Hopefully we will!
    I slept a lot last night, about ten hours, and I feel better today, but a bit lazy. There was a slight breeze that felt good as we ate our breakfast.

Sunday July 6, 2008
    Yesterday we sold our tickets for Son de la Frontera in Sevilla for that night, and we went with Lucy to Las Cabezas de San Juan, about an hour away, to see Concha Vargas dance with Angelita Vargas. Francesca and Delia didn’t go with us as planned. We missed them. Las Cabezas is a small pueblo near Lebrija.
    This was their annual Festival de la Yerbabuena (mint). This year was a homage to dancer Cristina Hoyos. There were three singers before the show ended with the dancing. One of the main attractions was Miguel Poveda, a young singing sensation here in Spain. He was good and polished, but of course he went on too long and so they had to shorten the dancing part, which many of us had come to see.
    Mari Peña was supposed to sing in the dancing part of the show, but she had a sore throat and couldn’t come. Her husband, Antonio Moya was there and as usual he played beautifully. Curro Vargas was supposed to play guitar with him, but he wasn’t there either. I didn’t know he was missing when I saw Concha before the show so I didn’t ask about him. We also didn’t see Rafael there (Concha’s husband). He probably had to work. Of course we saw Carmen (Concha’s daughter), who was singing in the show. We also saw Frasqui (Concha’s sister-in-law), Esperanza (Concha’s sister) and her son Alfonso, whom we hadn’t seen in a long time.
    Jill was there too and so was Inez Bacan, Jill’s sister-in-law, who is a fantastic singer. Unfortunately, she was only in the audience and was not performing. Carmen has been studying cante (singing) with her.
    Our friend Susan, from LA, had taken the bus there. Fortunately we had room in our car to take her back to Sevilla, which was good, because she hadn’t realized what a small and empty town Las Cabezas is. There is only one hotel, somewhere.
    When we left Sevilla at nine PM it was still very hot, although there was a breeze. As we sat outside in Las Cabezas the heat quickly melted and the breeze turned cold. I had brought some extra clothes, but barely enough. I have to remind myself of how the weather changes outside of Sevilla. I have frozen at several small town festivals and still haven’t fully learned to bring more warm clothes than I think I will need. I saw other people from Sevilla freezing in Las Cabezas. Luckily I didn’t freeze.
    This show, as many of the pueblo shows, took place outside on a hill by the church. The street had been blocked off and turned into an outside theater. Some lucky residents had their windows wide open so they could enjoy the show from above.
    The street lamps there are still ornate and picturesque and looked like stage settings. These old fashioned lights and the old buildings are the perfect scenic backdrops for these shows. I love these outdoor venues with the wind wafting and softly blowing the performers long skirts, as if planned.
Before Concha and Angelita danced, there was a fifteen-minute break during which the caldo, the warm chicken broth with fresh mint in it, was served. We had also been given fresh mint when we entered the show; it had been pinned onto our clothes. It smelled delicious.
The show ended after two PM and we quickly walked to the car, which Lucy had parked nearby, instead of socializing and visiting with the performers, which we usually do. Lucy had to teach a Flamenco class with Juan at eleven the next morning and had hoped to be back early enough to get some sleep.
    Freddie hadn’t taken his cane and actually did very well. He kept up with us on the walk to the car, using me as a cane when necessary. All of yesterday his walking was straighter and better than it has been.
We arrived back in Sevilla at three PM., much later than Lucy had hoped. She dropped us off by the church and we walked the two short blocks home easily. So many streets here are one-way that it is hard to navigate in some parts of Sevilla, like ours. Our short walk home probably saved Lucy about fifteen more minutes of driving!
    At one point I was taking to Lucy about schedules, and how much more relaxed we are this time. When we only have two or three months or less, we feel compelled to fit in as many classes as we can so as not to waste our valuable time here. That’s what Rina did and that is what Susan is doing now.
    Susan studies with Concha every day and then has two hours of practice time scheduled in a local studio. She took the bus all the way to the Potaje de Utrera (an annual Flamenco festival in the town of Utrera) and then back to Sevilla again the next day. We missed it this year but have been to it a number of times in other years. It is another venue where you freeze if you are not prepared. It lasts until four in the morning, outside. Then they serve the potaje (poh-tah-hey), a nutritious garbanzo bean soup, to the audience. You need something warm and nourishing by then!
Lucy assured us that we get something different by not cramming everything into a small time period. She said to imagine how relaxed she has become living in Sevilla for more than twenty-four years. We still take classes, but not at the intense level that a short visit necessitates.
    In this way I feel my age. I like being relaxed and not pushing myself like I used to. Speaking of age, I noticed last night that most of the audience was older. Even though some of the performers were young, it seemed as if the aficionados (Flamenco enthusiasts) were middle aged or above. What has happened to the Spanish youth? Hopefully they will not lose the aficionado tradition. Flamenco needs its public. As we returned to Sevilla last night, we heard sounds of rock music coming from the large crowds of young people still in the streets. Has Flamenco lost in Sevilla? In Spain? I hope not.

End of part IX

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