Running Away to Spain

Blog #1 from Frankfurt

By Andrea Williams
February 2010

Momma K is 30 weeks pregnant, so what does Andrea do?

She runs away to Spain, por supesta!

The following blog is written by our beloved teacher, Andrea Williams, while studying in Spain for a 3 month trip, as the recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Professional Development Grant for Dance 2009!

Congratulations Andrea, we believe in YOU!

I am sitting in Frankfurt airport, where I have been for the last five hours, almost in Spain, but not quite.  Lufthanasa’s pilots are on strike.  I have already missed my train south from Madrid to Jerez de la Fontera, my final destination on this leg of my journey.

Inevitable, considering how far it is from Vancouver!

This trip has been over a year in the making, and promises to be pivotal, regardless of the outcome.  I started putting the final touches to my Canada Council for the Arts (CC) grant proposal in early 2009, finally mailing it off with a hope and a prayer in late January.  Then came six months of agonising and restless silence. This was not the first time I had applied to the CC for a Professional Development grant, so the taste of bated breath was not new to me.  Still.

In August, when I finally got my “Golden Ticket”, the first person I called was Oscar.  As my mentor and someone familiar with my work, and as a past winner of the illustrious Jacqueline Lemieux award given out by the CC, he had written me a reference letter to go with my application.  He did not seem surprised by my news.

Not even five minutes later I was on the phone with Momma K:
“I got it.”
“Good. How long will you be gone?”
“Two, maybe three months.”
“February to May?”
“Well, I guess I can’t have a baby next year! Who would run the studio?”

Two months later we would look back on this conversation and laugh!

Mozaico-Andrea-Jerez-2010-1Registration for the Festival de Jerez begins at 12-midnight (Spanish time), September 1st.   A few minutes later most of the high profile classes are full.  Flamencos from around the world are poised at their computers, with raised thumbs over their Blackberries, and beside prepped fax machines all at the same moment in time.   Places are limited and coveted.  I was lucky; by 12:03am Spanish time I was registered in Rafaela Carrasco’s Tientos and Isabel Bayon’s Farruca classes.   Both are artists I admire – Rafaela for her technique and estilo, Isabel for her great Farruca choreography.

Mozaico-Andrea-Jerez-2010-2Along with the price tag for the classes comes an entry pass to the Teatro Villamarta productions, one show every night for two weeks. It is thoroughly possible to gorge oneself on flamenco at the Festival in Jerez de la Frontera.

The second part of my trip will be an extended stay in Sevilla. There, I will soak up material from different teachers, each revered in their own right.  My concentration will be on the bata de cola technique – I can’t wait to bring back all kinds of material for students!

I am walking distance from several studios (and a few flamenco stores!).  I expect time to be a little more leisurely, and a little more lonely, than in Jerez.   However, I have the good fortune (or particularly good at planning!) to be in Sevilla for both Semana Santa and the Feria de Abril, when the whole city shuts down for weeks of ritual and celebration.  A great way to experience the city and the flavours of its flamenco!

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