Her Journey to Flamenco

Image“You can doooooo eeeet!” exclaimed Lourdes.  A shrug from my dear college friend Jeanine in response, “I will try.”

We’re sitting in the Taller Flamenco studio where Jeanine journeyed nearly 6,000 miles so that she could spend her 50th birthday learning Flamenco techniques from a grass roots professional in the city in which this beautiful and passionate Gypsy-inspired dance was inspired.

We’d traveled across the city of Sevilla from our hotel in the (what?) neighborhood to a small bohemian district where the streets were as slim as the dancers.  Our taxi driver, who only spoke Spanish, dropped us a few blocks from the studio and pointed to the left “Vaya a la izquierda que forma.”  What?????

We did not have our map with us, only an address…and in Sevilla, streets are poorly marked.  Jeanine and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and walked in the direction indicated.  We walked no more than 100 feet…and we were lost. There were no street signs and we were at a cross roads that reminded me of the entrance to the yellow brick road.

We waited.  A smart looking lady was approaching us and we begged for assistance.  She was kind enough to stop, fetch her glasses from her purse, stomp out her cigarette and look at our itinerary.  She was sweet…she let a small giggle weep out as we were standing right under the street name, which was plastered to the diagonal wall of a building.

Sure enough, we were pointed in the right direction and we arrived at the studio in time for Jeanine’s one-on-one instructions.  I was invited to participate, but once I saw the two women stomping out their “warm up,” I politely declined…even the pre-dance maneuvers appeared challenging.

f (1)Lourdes aggressively led the instructions, commanding Jeanine to adjust her posture, stay grounded and focus on her core.  What appeared to be five minutes into the class, she had Jeanine working on a footwork combination that left me dizzy with the sounds of their beating hooves.  Flamenco, after all, is distinctive from other dance genres because of the sharp, yet precise, stomping combinations that create music with the performer’s feet.

Balance

Posture

Choreography

Combinations

Shoulder slapping

Lourdes begged Jeanine to feel it in her back, “I do not want to see your back!  Look there in the mirror,” Lourdes bellowed.  “I can see your shoulder.”

Lourdes took Jeanine away from the mirror so she could “Feel it!”

“You can doooooo eeeeet!” Shouts Lourdes

Jeanine responds with confidence…“Yes, I can!”

eAfter day two of Flamenco lessons, Jeanine and I enjoyed a special dinner at Tablao El Arenal…where one of the most powerful dancers, Antonio Castro, stomped out a performance that had the audience sweating and pulsating.

While watching these professionals at the dinner show, I had a whole new appreciation for the tremendous “exercise” that Jeanine embarked upon.

I am in awe of my friend’s skills!  Yes, she can…and Jeanine is an inspiration for all of us…to pursue our dreams and journey to whatever part of the globe we need to realize our capabilities.  Salud!

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