Blog 3 from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
By Andrea Williams
Having spent two weeks in Jerez at the Flamenco Festival, I can attest to the intense atmosphere and concentration of flamenco here – in quality and quantity.
For me it was worth the trip, the expense, and the exhaustion! It takes so long for us to get there from Vancouver, especially if you encounter a random transportation strike in Europe, and it costs much more than it does for Europeans, Americans, or even Japanese to come. And, there is so much to do and so much to see that you never sleep. But it is worth it – so start saving your pennies and plan on coming back with me in 2012!
I had two incredible teachers over the course of my time in Jerez; both extremely talented, very creative, and incredibly demanding.
Rafaela Carrasco is also funny and full of light. She teaches with her whole body and requires the same from her students. I worked my butt off in her class, and felt good about it; had I not, I do not think I would have gotten half of what I did from that class. This class was also very competitive – students competing for space and attention – and more than I had seen in any of my North American classes. People are neither afraid to stand right in front of you, nor are they concerned if you are in their way. I soon learned how to play that game and was proud of myself for being asked to be in the front row one day! I loved this class and was heartbroken when it ended!
Isabél Bayon is technically demanding as well. She is very precise in her movement. Although her class choreographing was organic and in the moment, there was purpose and direction. The funny thing about this class was that I was the biggest person in my class – you can see this from the post-workshop photo – and it did not matter as much if I was in the front or back row, as I could see over people’s heads! It took me a little longer to get into this class, but I got some great warm-up movement ideas for my classes and by the end of the workshop I wanted more!
At Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy, we teach quite a bit of technique as well as baile. I know I stress how important technique is, and my students can confirm this (!), but it pays off. Not only was my technique noticed but because of the technical base that I have acquired over the years, especially from Oscar and Kasandra, I had an easier time executing a lot of the movement and picking up little cositas. Very rewarding.
The Festival has been a great experience for me, the proverbial Flamenco Sponge, taking classes during the day, seeing shows at night, and hearing flamenco seep out of many of the city’s pores. I have been joking that I have been getting drunk on Flamenco, but that statement is not far off the mark. I hope to inebriate you all when I get back too!