7. Sevilla – May 6-13, 2010

7. Sevilla – May 6 - 13, 2010

May 6, 2010
I practiced this evening. I must have danced, in total, four to five hours today. Two of the hours were dance classes. When I got home, I took a short rest and ate and then it was time to start Alicia Acuña’s cante class. This was a three-hour class held at our friend Rebeca’s studio. I went to learn more voice control. Alicia helped me a lot two years ago and I wanted to study more with her. But she has now changed her teaching technique and we don’t warm up with exercises anymore. Instead she works with us during the actual cante. Freddie walked there with us and sat in on the class. Stephanie and I both took the class and then we signed up for the month.
After the class we walked to the new ice cream shop by the calle Feria Mercado. The ice cream is natural and tastes incredibly good. I am already addicted. I got half dark chocolate that was flavored with fructose instead of refined sugar. The other half was a delicious pistachio. 
When we arrived home our friend Javi was waiting outside. He visited for a little while, but he couldn’t stay long. He was on his way to the Feria de Sanlúcar la Mayor, where he lives, a small pueblo 18 kilometers outside of Sevilla. This Sanlúcar (not the seaside Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz) has an old castle that predates the Alcazar in Sevilla.
Freddie went up to the Alameda to have a drink with our friend Rebeca and her three daughters and one daughter’s friend. I was going to meet them, but I really felt like practicing and this would be my only chance of the day. So I stayed home and started to practice. My stage is now set up in the back room where our “office” is. Stephanie and I can only get Internet from this one room. Freddie’s newer computer can get it from the bedroom and hall and sometimes even from the living room. 
Stephanie has been camping out in the new loft that Angel built above the kitchen. The metal stairs are along the living room wall. It is nice that she has a fairly private space to stay and to keep her things. She moved the mattress up there with some help and yesterday Angel brought up the bed frame. That is what gave me enough space to set up the stage in the back room (office) with the one remaining twin-size bed, which I use as a couch. 
The loft that Angel built this year. This is where Stephanie is staying.
Stephanie on the stairs to the new loft that Angel built.

My life here is coming together nicely. I am thrilled that I practiced tonight. It was a good practice and I need to practice what I am learning. I am working on the style as well, because that is really what I want to learn from Angelita.
Tonight I discovered that a warm up exercise that Angelita gave us helps to train the feet to be sensitive to the different levels of sound. If I hadn’t practiced this on my own, I don’t think I would have realized how helpful this particular foot exercise is. I also tried this theory of practice with another step, which of course worked. What a wonderful tool. It is basically shifting the accents from side to side and controlling all the sounds perfectly. 
I haven’t been really practicing much since Freddie’s stroke and now I finally feel ready again. I have to tone up this aging body so I can keep dancing. And I love it. I always feel good when I dance. 

May 7, 2010
It is Friday night. Freddie and I just returned from eating homemade ice cream at the one-month-old Heladaria (ice cream store) Helados Artesanos. It is on the corner of the Mercado near the Sevici bike rental stand. There was a small bar open across the street from it. Down the walking street, at the corner of Calle Feria, two more bars are open. 
The ice cream woman’s sister owns the tiny, boxlike shop. The ice cream woman is young and very nice and friendly. She is helping her sister, who makes the ice cream. And the ice cream is phenomenal. It is the best ice cream I have ever eaten and it is made out of good ingredients. I initiated the trip there after we ate beans and chorizo for dinner. Stephanie made the beans yesterday and they are just right. As always, Stephanie is a great help to us and well as being a great friend.
Freddie at the Heladeria (Ice cream shop)
Freddie at the Heladeria (Ice cream shop)
Inside the Heladeria (Ice cream shop)
The ice cream lady inside the Heladeria (Ice cream shop)
Freddie, Teresa & Natalia outside the Heladeria (Ice cream shop) eating their ice cream. Church & Sevici bike stand in the background.
Freddie, Teresa & Natalia outside the Heladeria (Ice cream shop). Church & Sevici bike stand in the background.
Looking at the Bar next door to the ice cream shop.
Freddie & the ice cream lady at the Heladeria (Ice cream shop)
The ice cream lady inside the Heladeria (Ice cream shop)

Yesterday we all three went to Alicia Acuña’s cante class. Today we played the recording through a good pair of small speakers we keep here in Spain. 
This morning I left to go to Angelita’s noon class. She was there but it turned out that Maria “Cha Cha” Bermudez teaches a Jerez Bulerías class there from 12:30-1:30. Lorena (the studio owner) and Angelita had forgotten about the Friday time switch. 
Some of us decided to take the class or were already taking it. Others went for coffee with Angelita and Lakshmi. I felt that the opportunity to take one of Maria’s classes had just fallen into my lap. So I stayed. 
The next hour I took Angelita’s class. It is hard but I am doing better. The practice last night did help. Lakshmi said that I looked good in class and Angelita was very nice to me and complemented me.
Some of Angelita Vargas' dance students in front of the studio.
Unas de las alumnas de Angelita Vargas en fronte del estudio.
Chris at the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia

I love watching Angelita move. I am learning some wonderful things from her. She has beautiful movement of her upper body and I want to incorporate that, of course. I do realize how fortunate I am to be able to take her classes. As I have written, she is a Flamenco legend. And she deserves it. 
Tonight just fooling around without my shoes on, I suddenly understood one move in the Bulerías Angelita has given us. I realized that I had done a similar move in Anzonini class years ago. 
(Anzonini was a wonderful, older Gypsy Festero (one who specializes in dancing and singing at Fiestas) who visited the States for a few years. He lived in a brown-shingled house in Berkeley with a beautiful woman named Pat, whom he had met just after arriving. He was a master fiesta dancer and singer with a gigantic heart, and we were incredibly lucky to study with him in the late 70’s early 80’s in Berkeley, California. He was a butcher by trade and he made and sold Spanish chorizo out of Pat’s house in Berkeley. Freddie, who then lived in San Francisco, always bought his chorizo and I did too, because it was so good. Anzonini too is a Flamenco legend.) 
With Anzonini we had images of grabbing, as Angelita already suggested, but also of putting what you grabbed into your pocket. So instead of just putting both hands to my side with my shoulders back, as I have been doing, I will now remember to put it in my pocket or into my skirt. I love it when I get these kinds of obvious breakthroughs. 
After Angelita’s class, I went home for lunch and Freddie and Stephanie were humming some of what we are supposed to learn for Alicia’s cante class. I hooked up the speakers to my recorder and set the folder for a loop play. Freddie and Stephanie and I started listening to the short looped recording I made in Alicia’s class. 
The first example is a scale-like salida (a wordless, melodic beginning) to a Malagueña, and the next is a salida for a Siguiryas. These will help me develop control over my voice; they should help me to hit the correct tones. Our homework is also to practice breathing from our diaphragms and through the nose as we sing. We have to practice this until the next class, which will be a week from Monday. It will be another three-hour class. 
I had to leave home again to go to my private class with Lakshmi at her studio. She was trying to squeeze in her ballet class between my class and having to leave for the Tablao (Los Palacios Andalus where she dances six nights a week) by six. But, she ran my class over a little, having decided to skip ballet and take care of some business instead. She stopped by a little later to make some copies of documents. She was already on her way to work.
We tried a new bar/cafe in a great location right in the middle of the Alameda de Hercules. The Alameda is now a large, rectangular, car-less, tiled and pebbled park. Formerly a dangerous, rundown, dirty area frequented by drug addicts, prostitutes and Gypsy Flamencos, the “new” Alameda has nouveau style fountains and mister/sprinklers (for summer) and tiles of different colors and children’s play equipment. People throng in bicycles and on foot. We see families with babies in strollers, couples, modern-day hippies, young men and women and old men and women, and lots of children. There are always some dogs on leashes. I am glad that I haven’t seen as much dog shit this year as in other years. The Alameda is now a happy, revived place. 
After a while, when the wind picked up and the sun left, I got cold and came home to listen to the recording some more. Stephanie wanted to explore the Indian store called “Lakshmi”, at the end of the Alameda and Freddie decided to walk with her. 
Freddie is getting so much more exercise here than at home. And he is becoming stronger and stronger. Tonight when we walked to the ice cream store, we remembered when he could only go that far in a wheel chair. Later he could go with a cane, at a snail’s pace. Tonight he walked, only a little slower than normal. And he didn’t get tired. 
My short alone time felt good. I caught up on my email and I started to practice my voice. I seem to have lost part of my voice. I didn’t sing as much as normal this time in California and my voice is not even as flexible as it was the last time I was here. I am hoping to get it back in shape and better than before, starting now. 
Freddie says that I was singing better than I thought but that I had lost my confidence.
Freddie came home with presents from the Indian store. He bought us both engraved leather books that we can use for writing or drawing. He also bought me a beautiful wooden incense holder and Nag Champa incense, my favorite. For himself he bought a small wooden, ivory-looking box to keep his jewelry in.
Later after Stephanie left, Freddie, and I listened to the recording some more and we practiced singing. Then I sang with the recording alone. My voice feels very weak. I tried practicing notes. Freddie and I both have classes with Juan tomorrow afternoon. I hope to work on this more with Juan.
I feel very good about starting an exciting trip here. I did not know what would unfold this year and I couldn’t decide from California. Now this trip is falling into to place. I am making choices to practice and to take classes. I may also go to a cante class next week with a woman teacher Chris highly recommends. I feel good exploring new things. It is a deepening of learning this art. 
Sitting here typing I hear Daniel upstairs practicing his guitar. It is constant background music unless we turn on our music or have people over. It weaves into the sound of Spain.

–Great day today. Danced three hours (classes), practiced singing and dancing, power-walked a lot, wrote, and ate incredible ice cream. Tomorrow I plan to briefly edit the first of the next three Spain updates I have written but haven't sent or published yet. Too busy having fun!

Sunday May 9, 2010 
I did edit my writings yesterday and Freddie and I had our classes with Juan. Freddie danced and I sang. I worked on a Granaina that I had started two years ago. It can help with my voice control, which seems to be one of my themes this year. We all had fun. Lucy came over during the class to see Freddie dance. It is awesome! (And I don’t use that word much). 
A little later Carlos came over to work with Freddie on the guitar. Before he started, we got into talking about cante and Carlos started explaining to me how to train my voice. It was just what I had been looking for. He sang a beautiful Taranto for me, again illustrating ways to train my voice. But my voice was tired from working hard in Juan’s class.
After Freddie’s class I told Carlos that next time he came for a lesson with Freddie that I would take a voice training class with him. But Carlos decided to start me off right then, without charging me. He gave me a lot of exercises to practice, which I tried although my voice was tired and needed a rest. I was afraid of straining it, but I didn’t. The short introduction of scales and exercises that Carlos had suggested lasted an hour! 
Then I finished my editing and send the last installment off. I have one more to finish editing and send and then this one will be ready. I am trying to make them shorter, so they won’t be so overwhelming for people to read. 
Yesterday I skipped my class with Lakshmi so I had one today. Later today Lucy, who is also in Angelita’s class but started it late, came over and we practiced. It is fun to practice a choreography with someone else. I was able to show her some of the complicated llamadas that she had missed. When I have to break things down to show what I am doing, I learn a lot. 
Today is Mother’s day. My son Elun and granddaughter Josie “skyped” me while I was practicing with Lucy. I got to see them live through the computer. That was the best Mother’s Day present I could get. Josie is almost four years old. She danced and sang for me. She is also talking much more clearly than last time we spoke. Maybe she was more awake because it was still morning for her, instead of just before bedtime like when they call me in California. They live in upper New York State. It actually snowed there today! Josie had already played in the snow on their deck. She is a beautiful child and no longer a toddler. 

Monday May 10, 2010
Angelita started to teach Alegrías today. Stephanie and Freddie walked there with me. Freddie watched (of course) and Stephanie took the class with me. It is easier and easier for Freddie to walk. 

May 11, 2010
Yesterday Stephanie and I went to see the cante class that Chris plays for. We signed up. So we are now also taking the month with Laura Ramón, a singer from Malaga as well as with Alicia Acuña. I also had a voice class with Carlos, and Stephanie and I plan to share a Carlos cante class on Thursday.
Tomorrow Paco Fernandez and Pilar and Soleá (wife and daughter) come to visit. They have been very busy with remodeling and we haven’t seen them yet. Paco just found out that he is going to Japan to work (playing guitar) from the 15th through June 4, so they wanted to be sure to see us before he leaves.
Angelita’s classes keep me busy trying to remember the choreography. I don’t know where all the time goes. Lakshmi is preparing for a Concurso (dance contest) in Cadiz so I didn’t get much help from her today, just ten minutes. But right after those ten minutes I had to go to cante class, and by the time I returned I had forgotten a lot of what she showed me. My mind does not retain as much as I want it to! But I am very lucky to be able to practice at home when I feel like it. 
They changed the time of Angelita’s class to 1:00 PM and that cuts into the day. For me, the noon class was better. Then I had time to take a private class with Lakshmi right after the group class. The later time prevents that on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Lakshmi has Pilates. And now she has to work on the show she is about to present in Cadiz on Saturday, so she has even less time available. But Lakshmi’s Cadiz show should be fun to see.
I let myself walk to the Alameda with Freddie tonight to have some tapas with friends. I had to tear myself away from practicing the steps I could remember. When I came home I listened to my recording of today’s cante class. Freddie helped me to make tones using more of my diaphragm. I was discouraged. It is almost midnight already. I don’t know where the time goes.
Life here is full and I am enjoying it. We plan to go to Cadiz Saturday night to see Lakshmi dance in the Concurso. But I forgot to call Jill to see if she wants to go with us and to drive. I have wanted to call her anyway to say hello. I will do it tomorrow. 

May 13, 2010
We finally got to see Paco, Pilar and Soleá this evening. Soleá, at eleven years old, is now taller than I am! We went to visit Pilar’s parents with them, Andres and Fina. (Andres made Freddie’s beautifully inlaid guitar). Paco went to the nearby bar and brought back caracoles (snails). They were delicious. He taught me a new trick for sucking out the snails that are hard to get. You just bite a small hole in the hard part of the shell and then they are easy to suck out. I have always used a toothpick before.
Paco is leaving for Japan on Saturday and won’t be back until May 4, –that is if the planes can fly. The airports in Spain and Portugal have been shut down for the second time due to the ash from the Icelandic volcano. Paco wanted to be sure to see us before he left, assuming that the airports will reopen. They are also almost finished with some remodeling in their house, which has kept them from visiting earlier. We always have a good time seeing them. 
Soleá is getting much better at singing her songs in English so that we can actually understand what she is saying. I helped her translate the parts of them that she didn’t know. She learns them from CDs and videos. Soleá loves studying English as well as singing American pop songs in English. She is impatient to be fluent in English. 
Soleá has also recently discovered that she loves the books we gave her two years ago for her birthday, especially the Narnia book, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”. I am so glad to see her enjoying reading and studying. The books are in Spanish, of course.

We received a beautiful email from Cihtli today, saying how much she and Ethan had enjoyed our last visit. We always have a lot of fun with them and look forward to seeing them again soon. 
Spending time with Cihtli & Ethan


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