8. Sevilla – May 13-25, 2010

8. Sevilla –May 13 - 25, 2010

May 13, 2010
–A dance class and two singing classes. I am tired. I had thought about dropping out of Laura’s group class, because I was overwhelmed, but I had such a good time in it today that I decided to stay in it. 

May 16, 2010
Last night Carlos Heredia, Freddie’s guitar teacher and friend, drove us to Cadiz to see Lakshmi dance in her Concurso, her Flamenco dance contest. Chris and his girlfriend Shino, who is here visiting from Germany, went with us. Cadiz is about an hour and a half away, depending on fast you drive. It was hot when we left Sevilla at about 6:30 PM. When we finally arrived at La Flamenco Peña de Perla at about 8:30, we found out that the show didn’t start until 10 PM, not 9 as Lakshmi had thought.
The stage -Lakshmi's concurso at Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz, España 5/10. The judges' table is in front.
Shino and Chris at Lakshmi's concurso at Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz, España 5/10

Freddie and I had been to this Peña in Cadiz two years earlier, when we had performed there with Esperanza Fernandez. It was nice to see it again. While we were waiting, we walked to the cliff over the ocean. It was windy and cold and I was glad that I had brought my black velvet coat. It was perfect. Freddie and I do want to go back to Cadiz to visit. We both like it.
Marianna at Lakshmi's concurso at Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz, España 5/10

We were on Spanish time, and the show didn’t start until 10:30 PM, but there were only three performers instead of four as planned. They each did two ten-minute sets with an intermission between the two sets.
Lakshmi's concurso at Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz, España 5/10. Alegrías.
Lakshmi's concurso at Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz, España 5/10
Lakshmi's concurso at Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cadiz, España 5/10. The painting next to Lakshmi is La Perla de Cadiz, a wonderful singer, now dead.

It was a long night. Lakshmi and the second dancer, a man, were both good. But the third dancer, also a man, was boring. Lakshmi won’t find out about the results for several months. By the time Carlos had finished socializing with a guitarist from Jaen (a pueblo here in Andalucia), we left late. We arrived back in Sevilla at 3:00 AM!!! 
Today I am sitting in the hot sun at a table outside Café Bar Hercules, a block from our apartment. Freddie is having a sandwich and we are both having coffee. They have Internet here so I brought my computer. I didn’t expect it to be so hot. I can barely read the computer in this bright sun. But it feels good, even if it is a little too hot. Our apartment is still cold, which will be a coveted trait when the summer heat comes. 
A table opened up in the shade of an umbrella, so we moved quickly. I had envisioned sitting in the sun, writing while Freddie ate and had coffee. But Sevilla is small and people remember you, so I spent my time socializing instead of writing. 
Two years ago I wrote about a woman cook at a bar we used to frequent. She had given me a small, yellow Spanish comb to remember her by. Today, shortly after we arrived, she showed up at Bar Hercules to have a beer. She acted overjoyed to see us and kept talking about our energy. We ended up having a long talk with her. Now she works at a restaurant near the Cathedral instead of at the bar where we first met her. She is French and originally grew up in a circus. But when her parents got divorced and her mother remarried they moved to Spain. She teaches Belly Dance here and her daughter performs it. 

Periods of depression and inertia –maybe it is from being tired. We didn’t get to bed last night until 3:30 AM and it was not what we had anticipated. Somehow expecting it makes it easier, as I can plan for it.

May 21, 2010
I have been too busy to write. I am overloaded with cante classes. Laura gives so much material that I cannot possibly learn it all. Her classes are long and exhausting. Since Stephanie and I cannot take her Monday class because we had previously signed up for Alicia’s class, which happens that day at the same time, Laura has generously been giving us extra time. Last Tuesday we had a three-hour class and then on Thursday we had a two-hour class.
While she is teaching us when to take a breath in the cante, she does not work much with the voice quality, which is what I want. I will not continue after the session is finished. It is too much work and too exhausting. If I were only singing, it would be different, but my priority is dance.
I love Angelita Vargas’s dance class. We are working both on Alegrías and Bulerías. It is challenging and fun. Angelita is a super nice person and very loveable. I have to practice every day; and I am enjoying practicing a lot. I am still taking polishing classes from Lakshmi and that is essential. I will certainly continue with both these classes.
Alicia’s cante classes are once a week for three hours, at the moment, because she is traveling a lot for work (singing). She is helping me to sing from my diaphragm. My tones are improving. I can handle her class. She is very patient and supportive.
Stephanie and I shared a cante/voice class with Carlos but we will not continue that either, although Carlos has some good ideas. Freddie is still studying guitar rehabilitation with Carlos. He enjoys it and feels that it is helping him.
Freddie and I are also both continuing with Juan del Gastor. Juan is fun and we love him and hanging out with him. I am not taking classes as frequently because of money. We are spending a lot of money here this time. Food is more expensive. 

Ring, ring-ring! Juan is at the door. So we are all hanging out doing Flamenco instead of me writing. Who can say no to this?

Juan had to go teach a class. I just came back to the computer and am chatting through the Internet with Amit in Santa Cruz, California. Amit is working with Nina to organize workshops in Northern California with Manuela Carrasco. I am sorry I will miss these workshops but I sure love having classes five days a week with Angelita Vargas.
I called Concha Vargas, another of my dance teachers and a good friend, yesterday to wish her happy birthday, but she is still in France, teaching. I had a nice talk with Rafael, her husband. We will visit them after Concha returns on Monday. 
Tonight we are going to Peña Pies Plomo to see Lakshmi perform, here in Sevilla. 

May 22, 2010
Last night Lakshmi gave a beautiful show at Peña Pies Plomo.
Peña Pies Plomo, Sevilla, España
Lakshmi dancing to Jose's singing at Peña Pies Plomo, Sevilla, España
Lakshmi dancing to Jose's singing at Peña Pies Plomo, Sevilla, España
Many of our friends were there, including some of the students from Angelita’s dance class. Jill came and so did Teresa Rios, our friend Agustin’s daughter. She is living in Triana and when she wasn’t at the Peña as planned when we arrived I called her. She was tired from a long day but decided to push herself and come anyway. She was glad she did. It was great to see her and she totally enjoyed herself.
Freddie and Teresa at Peña Pies Plomo, Sevilla, España

The mother of Alicia, our singing teacher, is the president of this Peña and Alicia grew up here, first dancing and then singing. I have written about this before. There are photos of Alicia all over as well as of the great Flamenco legends of Andalucia. Last night Alicia was out of the country working, but her husband Pepe was their with their full-of-fire little four-year old boy. Pepe, who was taking the money at the door, welcomed us and bought Stephanie, Freddie and me drinks. It is a beautiful Peña (community Flamenco club). 
At the end of the show several people were invited up to perform, including me! The woman who announced the show sang and danced. An old man in a beret got up and sang. Another woman from the Peña, who had excellent palmas, danced. Lakshmi’s housemate Basilio danced. A woman wearing shorts danced. I danced last, to the singing of the woman who announced. She sang “La Tana y la Juana” for me, a Bulerías that I have heard for years and just learned to sing in Laura’s cante class.
Old man singing at the fin de fiesta at the end of the show
Marianna dancing at the fin de fiesta at the end of the show

It was easy for me to dance to it because I knew it so well. Everyone complemented me afterwards and Lakshmi and Freddie said they were proud of me. Freddie took photos but didn’t press the button on the camera hard enough so only one faraway one came out. But Natalia, a Canadian student of Angelita’s, videoed me, and she will bring it over so that I can have it! She showed it to me late that night and it looked good! I hope that some of the other students took photos so that I can post those too. Video: Marianna dancing Bulerías at Peña Pies Plomo, Sevilla May 2010<object width="400" height="300" ><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.facebook.com/v/1415533382065" /><embed src="/http://www.facebook.com/v/1415533382065" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="300"></embed></object>
Boy who drove us home, his girlfriend Chinzia, Freddie, Lakshmi and singer Jose after the end of the show
Freddie, Jose and Lakshmi after the end of the show
Marianna and Lakshmi after the end of the show
Natalia and Teresa after the end of the show. They just met that night.
Stephanie after the end of the show. Note the beautiful mosaic wall behind her.
Lakshmi dancing after the end of the show
Marianna after the end of the show

We stayed late partying at the Peña after the show. A young man, the announcer lady, and the man’s beautiful Italian girlfriend said they would drive us back to the Alameda. But while we were still on the Torneo (a big street that follows the river), they found a parking place and decided to park there, because parking closer to the Alameda on a Friday night is almost impossible. 
So we had to walk much farther than Freddie had anticipated. Just after we started walk we ran into Stephanie, Natalia, Chris, and Josh, who had wanted to walk, instead of taking a taxi, from the Peña. That is where Natalia showed me her video of my dance. Just before our house, they decided to stop at the Flamenco bar nearby and Freddie and I continued on home. Freddie went to straight to bed and I put my photos into the computer. Around 4:30 AM, just after I finally got into bed, Stephanie came home. 
We slept late, of course today. Juan stopped by around noon and we were still in bed, so he left. Stephanie had been up so she answered the door. 
Freddie had his guitar lesson with Carlos at 1:00 PM and then went right back to sleep. I washed the smoke (Spain and the Peña) out of my hair and some of my clothes and plan to study my singing for Alicia’s Monday class. I am also writing and editing my Sevilla updates today. And I need to practice my dancing, of course.
Chris stopped by on his way to Laura’s to accompany her singing workout. He sometimes plays for Angelita’s class too. He played for part of my class with Lakshmi yesterday.
This evening I had a very good class with Juan. We worked on cante for an hour and Freddie said that I did very well. I am using my breath as Alicia taught me and it is starting to work. I think that just singing so much in all my classes has actually helped me more than I realize. 
After class Freddie and Juan watched “futbol” (soccer) on the TV. I went into the studio/office and practiced. I am starting to be able to separate the Bulerías choreography from the Alegrías choreography. A lot of the steps are similar and I am always mixing them up. But I am making progress. I am still learning Angelita’s vocabulary of dance steps. Some I already know and can do easily, while others I have to work at and repeat a lot to get them into my body memory. I am also learning to make certain of the steps my own, so I can use them anywhere. It is an interesting learning process.
Chris stopped by again on his way home from Laura’s and is storing his guitar and computer here while he visits an Israeli Flamenco guitarist friend of his. 

I forget to mention that I fixed my iPhone (old, first generation) myself last Thursday. I have my Spanish telephone sim card in it and use it here in Spain. The phone had suddenly gone dead one morning and its battery would not charge. It had been fine the night before. 
I called the Apple store and they said that they didn’t deal with iPhones and to call Apple itself the next day, as they were already closed. Then I emailed Josh with the question of what to do, although I didn’t really want to bother him. That is his work, after all. But he is the one who first unlocked my phone two years ago and I knew that he would probably know what to do. But Chris told me that Josh was out of town and not checking his email. 
Frustrated, I decided to check online for an answer. After a bit of research, I found two solutions to the problem that sounded good so I tried first one and then the other. They were very similar. And lo and behold, my phone came on again and showed a fully charged battery. It is still working. I am very proud of myself. And it wasn’t really that difficult. 
I hate it when technology goes haywire, but I am “stoked” that I fixed it! I sent another email to Josh telling him to disregard my first request because I had figured it out. When I saw him last night at the Peña, he told me that he had been out of town and had just received my emails! Josh went to Alicia’s cante class last Monday with Stephanie and me. He loved it and signed up. He is another American guitarist who lives here. I wrote about him two years ago. 
Tonight it is late again, but we did have a late start to the day. I think it is time to go to bed. I did send out the last update and I also posted it on Facebook. I hope to have this one up soon, and then I will be up-to-date.

May 23, 2010
The pre-summer heat seems to be here to stay. I love this weather. We often have a light breeze, and it is hot, but not too hot. I wish summer were like this.
Lucy (Juan's wife) is visiting her parents in Almuñcar (Spain), so Juan visits us several times a day. Right now he is giving Freddie a dance class. 

Tuesday May 25, 2010
Where does the time go? Yesterday I took a class with Angelita followed by one with Lakshmi. I arrived home after 4 PM. Juan got to the house for a visit just as I was walking up to the front door. I had enough time to eat some delicious avocado soup that Stephanie made for lunch (which happens late here). Juan tried it and said he was going to make it for Lucy that night! He loves Stephanie’s cooking and is always saying what a good cook she is. 
After eating, I had time to shower and then it was time to leave for Alicia’s three-hour cante class, which started at 5:00 PM. I love Alicia’s teaching and her material. And my voice is improving. Alicia’s class ran over and I arrived home at 8:30 PM. 
That left me only twenty minutes to get ready to leave to see Lakshmi’s show at Los Palacios. We were meeting Lisa, a friend of a friend’s mother, there at 9:15. She is only here for three days. This was the only night we could meet her because of her schedule. She is leaving Sevilla on Wednesday. We had also invited Teresa (Agustin’s daughter who now lives in Triana), and Natalia (dancer from Canada who videoed my dance at Pies Plomo.) Stephanie was too busy to go. 
Teresa had met a couple, Harold and Christy from San Francisco, in Triana and had invited them too. As we were waiting for the show to start, Natalia (from Canada) discovered that Harold was a client of her web development business, which is conducted on the Internet. They knew each other over the Internet but they had never met in person. The rest of us were from the Bay area. What a coincidence.
Palacios Andaluz-Teresa, Natalia, Marianna, and Freddie 5-10
Freddie & Lisa just before the show started.
Lakshmi dancing at Palacios Andaluz
Lakshmi dancing at Palacios Andaluz
Lakshmi dancing at Palacios Andaluz
Lakshmi dancing at Palacios Andaluz

Afterwards we all went with Lakshmi to the little sidewalk bar nearby for tapas. As we were eating, Stephanie, Chris, Josh and Tepe (a Japanese man from London who is staying with Josh) came from their singing practice. Jose, the singer from the Palacios, also joined us.
Christy, Freddie and Harold after Palacios Andaluz
Lisa and Freddie after Palacios Andaluz
Lisa and Freddie after Palacios Andaluz
Freddie & Marianna after Palacios Andaluz
Natalia, Teresa and Freddie after the show
Freddie and Lakshmi after the show

Finally, I got so cold that I wanted to leave. The heat of the spring had gone and the night was chilly. The silky green and blue lunares (big polka dot) synthetic shawl that I had worn to the Peña had been warm enough then. Now, in exactly the same clothes as I had worn a few days earlier, I was shivering. Even my nose was cold. 
We all decided to leave. Freddie had ridden his tricycle to the Tablao and I had walked with him and that was how we had to return home. Teresa, Lisa, Harold and Christy shared a cab to go home to Triana, while dropping Lisa off in central Sevilla. Josh went to bed, because he lives right near there. Natalia left for her place near the Arch of the Macarena. She had to get up early the next morning to leave for Granada for the day. Jose had his car. Lakshmi and Chris had their bikes, but they walked with Freddie and me. Freddie’s bike is not as fast as a regular bike but he still rode faster than I could walk over the cobblestones in my little sandal heels. 
We got to bad around 3:30 AM again, and I had to get up by 10:45 to get ready for my class with Lakshmi, which today was before Angelita’s class. At 5:30 today Stephanie and I have another group class with Laura. I haven’t had time to practice for her class, because most of my energy is focused on learning Angelita’s material. The dancing wins. 

Ring, ring-ring! This has become Juan’s ring when he is at our door. When we hear the buzzer we check into the special phone to find out who is at the door and usually we say “un momento” or “hola”. Then we press the button in the living room that will unlock the front door. This is very common in Spain. 
Juan stopped by after lunch. We heard ring ring-ring and knew right away that it was Juan. Because I wanted to visit with Juan, I didn’t study my cante in the time I had allotted for it, just before class with Laura. I have more fun and learning, hanging out with Juan del Gastor than in memorizing new letras (words to a song), which I can do at another time. 
Juan and Freddie and I talk about cante (singing) and baile (dance). Juan has me practicing my pitos (finger snapping), something I had thought I would never bother learning. It is hard and my fingers and their joints get very tired quickly. But I am building up my strength slowly and I sometimes surprise myself. 
So I was late to Laura’s cante class because I didn’t want to end Juan’s visit. But Freddie decided to come with me. He rode his tricycle next to me while I walked back to Calle Castellar, where everything seems to be happening this year.
Entrance to another studio complex on Calle Castellar.
Inside of this studio complex on Calle Castellar.
Inside this studio complex on Calle Castellar. Laura's studio is through the door on the right.
Looking towards the door to the outside on the inside of a studio complex on Calle Castellar.

Stephanie stayed home to study. We are both on overload right now, but not willing to give much up at the moment. Neither of us plans to take Laura’s class next month because it is just too much information to take in when we are also taking Angelita’s dance classes and Alicia’s cante class. I am glad that my classes with Lakshmi, which happen at least five days a week, help me to assimilate the dance information and let me work on my style. At least her classes don’t overload me; instead, they help decrease the sense of overload!
Stephanie sometimes has cante classes in Jerez with Chiqui, and I have cante classes with Juan at our house. On top of all this, Stephanie is doing a lot of work for us here, which is really a big help for me, but it takes even more of her time and brain circuits. She sure makes my life easier and Freddie and I both really appreciate her. 
I love hearing Stephanie’s beautiful voice improve as she works on her cante. Her repertoire too is growing nicely. She is also doing very well in Angelita’s dance classes. Her musical ear and photographic memory help her pick up the steps very quickly. She will also take more private classes with Lakshmi. 
Lakshmi, as I have said before, is an incredible teacher as well as an amazing dancer. Her giving soul comes out in her art. She is a beautiful person inside and out, through and through. We love and value her loving nature as a friend and as her second set of parents. I know that I often mention her in the context of helping my dancing. But Lakshmi, Freddie and I are all very close friends too.

My theme so far in this update has been of filling myself with Flamenco information until I am almost bursting, right on the edge of being able to take it in without breaking. And I have also been having an incredibly wonderful time while doing this. What are my limits? How far am I pushing them and what will happen? 
Today in class Angelita said that I should do a slower version of a step. Implied was my age. At first I bristled and thought “I can do it”, and then it dawned on me that I am 65 years old and my body just is not the same as that of a woman in her twenties, which most of the students are. I won’t do those fast, fast steps anyway because I do dance better when I take my time. 
I am the one who has to remember that a sixty-five year old body does not move as quickly or supplely as a twenty year old body. It is a fact. And given that, I am extremely grateful that I can still dance and improve and still can express myself in that form and love doing it. I am very fortunate and blessed to have this strong, healthy body that I care for.


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