Monday, 23 September 2013


Quite a difficult third session today. Last night I was pondering on where this is all going in terms of impact on my process and outcome. But then I saw a beautiful firework display down at Barceloneta.

Barceloneta is a re-developed area alongside Ciutadella-Vila Olimpica, which used to be Sorromostro,  where Carmen Amaya was born and raised. There's even a street name after her here. As I sat and watched the fireworks on the edge of the beach, I was aware that I was obviously watching a piece of very fine tuned choreography, except where the cracks and bangs of the fireworks actually meant to sound like the clapping and stamping in flamenco? And was the fallout from the fireworks in the sky supposed to be shaped in the male second arm position? Or was I just going slightly mad and overdosing on flamenco? Personally, I do actually think because of where the fireworks were that it was a pyrotechnic homage to Amaya, as the explosion of expression and colour in this performance matched that of hers.

Was my self-expression about to explode with the help of flamenco? Maybe not today, though, according to Toni, my upper body posture was better positioned, and I was more aware of the correct shoulder positions etc.

But I was still having trouble with the basic hand twists, one of the first basics you learn in flamenco - twisting your hands from the wrist in an inside and an outside motion, curling your fingers closed then opening them again as you rotate.

This is done in all of the key arm positions - and it was so hard today to take it in as I had to go over the basic tango movements as well with arms in the various positions, and its tough on these arms, though I'm pleased that I'm getting the link between third position and second position better now.

Then came more stamps. Practising these basics has been an issue because of space and noise, so again it was hard to maintain the strength to power the stamp from the knee. My legs felt heavy or as Toni tried to explain, its what the Spanish called 'dolor' which translates as 'pain' or 'grief'. It was definitely hard work today because of the weekend break. Then tomorrow is a public holiday in celebration of the Patron Saint of Barcelona, 'La Merce', so no lesson as such tomorrow, but my usual lesson timetable for the next remaining 3 weeks at Escuela Flamenco Jose de la Vega will be:

Martes - Jueves: 12.30pm - 13.30pm and Viernes: 10.30am - 13.30pm.

I was also fortunate enough to find a space where I can practice outside the lesson time, at a friend of a friend's place, a British woman, Julia, who now lives in Barcelona and who is also an artist and an actor.

Talking today about what I'm here for, it seems pretty timely in the region's history that I've come to Barcelona to do a project about gender roles. Are gender roles regressing or progressing here? Also, while I'm thinking that this work is actually about opening up to other people, Catalunya is moving forward so much in its drive for independence, trying to maintain a very strong national identity. Definitely lots to think about.

What I recognised today though was that there's so much work to be done in terms of practice. Am I going to get beyond the basics in time to even try the 'Embrujo del Fandango' in enough time before the end of my stay here? I'm pretty determined to, put it that way. There's just no time to lose, but rest for me, my arms and legs is the main thing right now. Energy is huge huge requirement.

So I've set myself a target for tomorrow. I won't go beyond the first basic of the hand twists until I have mastered them completely. Here is where the real work starts if I'm to achieve what I came here for.


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