Sevilla 2008 Part VIII-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part VIII

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Friday June 20, 2008
    Yesterday I went to Pilar’s Bulerías class and she was still on vacation. So those of us who were there practiced. I had practiced earlier in the day and the choreography is coming. But sometimes the students have different ideas on how the dance should be done. I will have to wait until Pilar returns, theoretically on Tuesday.  
    Lakshmi was at our house when I returned about eight-thirty. I always practice my cante when I walk home and I was singing Fandangos de Huelva with Juan on my tape as I walked in the door. I love walking to and from class and having this time to sing, as well as the exercise.
    Lakshmi mentioned that she had to leave at nine because she was going to see Pepa Montes at Hotel Triana that night. I pulled myself out of my cante space and decided that I too wanted to see Pepe Montes. Lakshmi called her friend Elena who had the car and found out that there was room for me.
    I had fifteen minutes to change clothes before I had to walk back to Plaza Pelicano to meet them. Freddie said he felt like practicing so he stayed home.
    It was a good thing he stayed home, because Elena’s car was very full. For a while there were six of us piled in it. We left later than planned and then had to wait on a street corner for Marta to meet us. Elena and Marta are both in Pilar’s class. We just didn’t know that we were connected through Lakshmi. They are both good dancers and nice people.
    We arrived at the theater, which is in an outdoor courtyard of the old Hotel Triana, fifteen minutes late. We entered into a full house and leisurely walked up to the second row where a friend of theirs had saved us all seats. As we sat down, the show began. –What timing.     Pepa Montes danced, her husband Ricardo Miño, as usual played guitar, and their son Pedro played a wonderful piano in parts of the show. They had another guitarist, several palmeros, and two male dancers.
    This was a homenaje (homage) to Pepa put on by Triana (a pueblo which is on the other side of the Guadalquivir river from Sevilla). Triana was the old Gypsy quarter. Paco Fernández grew up there. The show was free.
    Last year Lakshmi and I saw Manuela Carrasco there in a homenaje to her. That show hadn’t been publicized and was sadly not full. Manuela is a world acclaimed dancer and if the public had known about that free show, it would have been mobbed. She is probably the best dancer in Spain.
Pepa’s show was good but I was not moved this time, although I like Pepa’s dancing. The only number I loved was the Caña which she did in an exquisite red bata de cola. She moves it so beautifully. She also has incredible hand movements. I am glad I went.
    The night was warm and I didn’t need the coat I had brought. I remember other nights at the Hotel Triana where I froze, so I brought enough to avoid that and I didn’t need it. The weather has heated up here, but still is not at the stupefying heat level that late summer usually brings.

Friday June 20, 2008
    Paco was giving Freddie a lesson tonight and discovered that Freddie can do the hand placement exercise perfectly if he does not look at his hands. If he looks at his hands, he does it wrong. Paco tried both ways several times in order to confirm this interesting fact. It will give us a clue to how Freddie’s post-stroke brain is working, which connections have been affected adversely and which can still function.
    Freddie did fantastically in his lesson, producing more clean sound in solid rhythms than he has since his stroke.     Photos here .
Sunday June 22, 2008
    Again time has flown by. Today is our granddaughter Josephine’s second birthday. Wednesday she will arrive in Sevilla with her parents, Elun and Donna. Que Alegría (what happiness).
Friday night during Freddie’s lesson with Paco, Lakshmi was over and she mentioned that Son de la Frontera would be performing for free, outside in the tiny pueblo of Arahal later that night. It was about half an hour away. Freddie did not feel up to going and there was one place left in the car, so I quickly dressed, and soon Lakshmi’s friends, Josh, Claire and Miguel picked me up in their car and then we went to pick up Lakshmi.
    We arrived at this picturesque pueblo just in time, parked, and walked about five minutes up to a plaza. There we found out that the concert would cost five euros. That was still an excellent price to see Son de la Frontera. We were able to get front row seats. We saw Jill there.
The concert started around eleven-thirty that night. When Son de la Frontera saw us from the stage they smiled. They think very highly of Lakshmi’s dancing and they love her as a person. Freddie and I have known Pepe for years (ever since he stayed at our house with Miguel Funi in about 1998) and we met the other band members when they toured in California this year in Carmel and San Francisco.
    The show was fantastic, the night hot and balmy and perfect. Their music is based on the falsetas of Diego del Gastor, who lived in Morón de la Frontera. Except for Raul, all the group members are from Morón. Most are related to Diego. They are the grandson generation. They have tastefully jazzed up the music, added Raul’s Tres (a Cuban stringed instrument) and kept the pure Flamenco flavor. And their band has become famous throughout Spain and Europe. Their music kept me awake and on the edge of my seat the whole night.
    What a contrast to the show we saw the night before. In this group every member is phenomenal. Moi de Morón, the singer, is incredible and I could feel the old Gypsy singers of Morón singing through him. Pepe Torres, grandson of the singer Joselero (whom I met in Morón in 1980 with Anzonini) dances better every time I see him. Pepe is one of my favorite dancers. He has the pure Flamenco feeling and style and also incredible footwork. Manuel Flores, does excellent palmas and danced a wonderful Bulerías at the end. It was even better than when they played in San Francisco shortly before we left. Paco de Amparo played wonderful guitar with Raul Rodríguez, the band’s founder, movingly playing his Tres. You could tell that they all enjoyed working together and were not bored with their music. They all played with feeling. It was so refreshing.
    After the show we climbed up onto the stage and went backstage to the small after-party, which consisted of food and drinks and socializing. Each member asked about Freddie and sent their love to him. We got to meet Pepe’s mother.
    On the way home, Josh told me he could easily fix my iphone so I could use it with my Spanish phone card. He also said that July 17 Apple would be releasing a European version of the new iphone that would be cheaper than in America. We discovered that we are fellow “geeks”, although he is an Apple computer expert and I just love technology. How lucky I am to find someone so knowledgeable here in Spain. He is an American who works over the Internet from Sevilla and lives here permanently.
    I arrived home at three AM and got to bed by three-thirty. But it was hard to get to sleep because the music had been so exciting and my head was still spinning.
Saturday morning we heard the door, around eleven-thirty. It was Juan Rios, who had come back to Sevilla to take care of his sister. He said he would be here indefinitely. He will start to teach private students. Freddie and I dressed and the three of us went out to breakfast at Bar Algabeño.
    We decided to go to the Palacios Andalus to see Lakshmi dance that night. She is substituting for a dancer who is having a baby. Lakshmi worked there regularly for years and quit this year just before she left for American for five months. Now she is back, of course and they love her.
    Juan left and Lakshmi came over. We had scheduled a class to work on the style of the steps I was learning in Pilar’s class. Because I am learning from the students right now, I don’t have the opportunity pick up Pilar’s style (until she returns) and I wanted to have help fixing some stylistic things. So I broke my rule about not taking classes from Americans while I am in Spain, and I had a wonderful class with Lakshmi and cleared up a lot of things.
    Lakshmi was continuing on to go to lunch at Josh, Claire and Miguel’s house. We called and Josh said he could fix my phone then, so I walked to Triana with Lakshmi. I ended up having a delicious lunch with them that Miguel had cooked. He is quite a cook!
    Josh fixed my phone but when I transferred my card to the iphone, it did not read the numbers stored on the card, so I will have to re-put all the numbers in the phone. The iphone has a lot of good qualities, but it does not have as good a reception as my Spanish phone and I can’t use it in my computer room! It also does not guess at the words when I text message like my Spanish phone does. The iphone make text messaging a longer process than the Spanish mobile phone does. Interesting.
    I took the bus home in the searing afternoon heat. Luckily the bus has great air conditioning. Summer is upon us and waiting for the bus was hot. If a taxi had passed first, I would have taken it.
I arrived home in time to take a short nap and to shower and wash my hair before it was time to go out to see Lakshmi dance.
    Juan Rios came to the house a little early. He is very punctual. As we were getting ready leave, Angel, our landlord, came over. He told us that he had been in the hospital for a few days and had just “escaped” for a few hours to come home and water his plants. He was going back to the hospital very soon. We asked if there was anything we could do, but he said no. And he did not want visitors at the hospital. He has some serious stomach problems. He expects to come home Monday or Tuesday, after they finish some tests. I thanked him again for my wonderful stage. He was happy. I always tell him he is an angel!
    We all talked with Angel for a while and then it was past time to leave.
Freddie drove his electric wheelchair, Juan helping him over some unexpected curbs. Juan also helped shield him from the cars when Freddie had to drive down the street because there either was no sidewalk or the sidewalk had narrowed too much. Spain is not too wheelchair-friendly, although it is improving.
    Freddie still does not always handle the chair correctly and again he nearly ran down some people in addition to crashing into some tables! But we made it to bar where we were meeting Lakshmi during her break between the two shows. After about ten minutes, it was time to cross the street and go to the Palacio.
    We stored Freddie’s chair downstairs at the Palacio, and then he climbed into another motorized chair that took him up the wide, winding staircase to the room where the show takes place.
As guests of Lakshmi’s, we were given front row seats. Freddie liked this show better than the show at Los Gallos. I’m not sure which I like more, as the shows are very different. This show included several classical numbers and more group numbers. Los Gallos just had solo after solo, but the dancers were very good. Of course Lakshmi was excellent.
    Afterwards we all went back to the bar for tapas. Other friends of Lakshmi’s were sitting at a table and they insisted on adding another table to theirs so we could sit with them. They were mostly Gypsies and some of the artists from the show were sitting with them. Lakshmi’s beautiful friend Encarni, a singer, was there with her mother. We sat next to her mother who was wonderful. She emanated such warmth and elegance. She is an older Gypsy woman with still-black hair and a hooked nose over her smile. She is missing some teeth, and even so, she is still strikingly beautiful. She was dressed in black, with beautiful gold earrings, eye makeup, and high heels. She used to be a dancer and was raised in a Gypsy Flamenco family.
    When we left, Juan walked us all the way home. He is a very caring person and he took care of Freddie beautifully. I start to judge people now on how they are with Freddie, how they take care of him.
    Today we slept late and went out to eat at Bar Alegría, because Bar Algabeño is closed on Sundays. The cook there, whom we had made friends with earlier, left for a few minutes and then came back. She came to our table and took a yellow Spanish hair comb from her hair and gave it to me, saying that it was to remember her by. People are so nice here. Earlier she had asked me where we had been, because she had missed us last Sunday. She guessed, rightly, that we had been at the beach. Now that the summer weather is here, and it is summer officially, people often go to the beach for the weekend or more.
    When I went in to pay the bill, the man behind the bar offered us drinks on the house. I had a fino (sherry) and I ordered Freddie another orange juice. This is another nice custom here in southern Spain. Often, restaurants will give you a copita (drink) on the house. This is usually an alcoholic drink, such as an after-dinner liquor or fino.
    Cihtli will come for a visit later on when the weather cools. Then we’ll go out and have fresh fruit juice drinks on the Alameda. They have replaced ice cream for us.

End of part VIII

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