Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Flamenco Diaries Part Two

Part two of my GoLearnTo course! If you missed part one, never fear, links are here!

As buses from my little village to Seville are nothing short of a nightmare, I had to leave at 9am to ensure I got to class by 11am! I chose to see the silver lining to the cloud and add something sweet to my wait on the Alameda, treating myself to a breakfast that I've long had a love affair with...
CHURROS: literally fried dough, freely available for dipping in super-thick hot chocolate.
Probably not the healthiest way to start a morning of exercise but ho-hum! Who can argue when they are made freshly in front of you?!
yes that's a portion for one, and yes it was only 1.50€!
Filled to bursting, with some left over for snacking, I waddled my way back to school. 

For our first class, we switched teachers for an hour of technique with Lydia. Of course, we couldn't get down to work without an impromptu photo session first...
 Canadians left, Brits right, teachers centre stage (where they belong!)

To our horror, the first thing Lydia asked us was which style of palmas we'd learnt in our final lesson yesterday and whether we could repeat them for her!! Turns out those were the rhythms that we were going to translate in to footwork today...whoops! Luckily, she was also a fan of diagrams and soon her white board filled with memory jerking scribblings of yesterdays compás and palmas! Soon enough we were double stamping with the best of them and styling our arms, wishing we were swishing around in voluminous, spotted dresses.

After a quick break and a cuddle with Lydia's little Yorkshire terrier (in for one day only unfortunately!), we switched back to Carmen's room for an intense two hours of choreography. Combination, watch, repeat, again, on the other foot, whilst standing on your head! It was quite a bit to take in, but soon we had our own mini routine going, showcasing all the things we'd learnt.

At the end of the morning, the lovely Carmen presented course certificates to us all with kisses on both cheeks! We asked her rather cheekily if we could film her doing the routine, so we could practice at home. She tried to convince a couple of us to do it with her to show you all the wonderful cannon she'd put together, but we were all too shy....

Here is the master at work (I'd love to see her dance something other than our baby flamenco routine - I bet she's feisty!):

video

Free from 2pm until 9pm, we had the afternoon at our leisure. The other members of my group dashed off to squeeze in the cathedral, the alcazar, the bullring and a mountain of other sights. Thankfully Seville is a pretty compact city and nearly everything is walkable. I, however, took an amble around the streets nearby (stumbling across La Basilica de La Macarena...photos to come tomorrow!) and took a long tapas lunch at Eslava (which also has a post in the pipeline! phew!).

With a few hours left to kill, I decided to wander towards La Casa de La Memoria (our show venue for the evening) as the surrounding streets are filled to the brim with flamenco dress shops with accessories galore. With the famous Feria de Abril just round the corner and a question mark over my outfit, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try some on!

You know you've got flamenco problems when skirts block your every exit!

I had a rummage through the racks and picked out a rather colourful floral number in my normal clothes size. I dragged it to the changing room (my god those things are heavy!) and pulled the curtain shut. Surprised that it wouldn't go over my bum, I had the bright idea of putting it over my head.... BIG MISTAKE. Not only did the dress not fit, I was now stuck in it! Let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying than being jammed in huge swaths of paisley fabric when shopping alone, with no one to help you escape. After a few minutes of panicking, I told myself to breathe and managed (thank the lord) to wriggle my way out Houdini style! Turns out everyone takes a size up in flamenco dresses (who knew?!)
Defo need some stomach sucking in knickers with this!

This coral number is my favourite, but with a 220€ price tag it had to go back on the shelf! The cheapest flamenco dress I found was and 150€ and some go up to 700/800€ a pop...worth noting that these things are rarely worn twice! Astounding - going to have to be a cheapy flamenco skirt for me I think!

After some cafe hopping, it was show time. Thanks to our impeccable English-ness (read earliness) we were first in the queue and managed to snaffle front row, centre stage seats.
A very intimate gathering (they aren't kidding when they advertise limited seats!), every stamp of the dancers feet and every piercing high note the singer hits reverberate off the walls. 

What I liked most about the show at Casa de La Memoria was that everyone got their chance to shine, the singer, the guitarist and the individual dancers. I loved that there was very little pomp and ceremony, just commitment to art. If you want to see girls in brightly coloured spotty dresses parading around then this isn't the show for you. Its gritty and passionate with not a polka dot in sight. If you want flamenco posers, you can find them in most bars in town. Casa de La Memoria amazed us with their artists - expect to fear getting kicked in the face, and feeling the occasional bead of sweat being flicked your way if you're near the front (all part of the experience of course).
I will certainly be taking visitors here to catch of a glimpse of the authentic flamenco and the fiery gypsy spirit.

Final thoughts on my GoLearnTo experience? Worth its weight in gold! It was a very well thought out package with authenticity and quality clearly in mind - no tourist trash here. Would I book again? In an instant! In fact their website should come with a warning: IT WILL SUCK YOU IN. 

I am literally starting a golearnto travel wish list...
...looks like I'll have to buy a lottery ticket!!

As ever my lovelies, until next time...

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