Dear flamenco friends,
Claudia and Julian here, writing to send you our best wishes for 2021. The quiet holiday gave us some time to reflect on the things we have to be grateful for. We can’t imagine how much heavier the past year would have felt had it not been for students / friends / supporters / fellow art enthusiasts like you, who have kept in touch, encouraged us, and been part of our online activities (or during the summer, in our one-to-one, outdoor, physically-distanced classes). On account of all of this, in spite of socially distancing, we haven’t really felt “alone.”
During the holidays, we hosted some online festivities. We’ve provided a recap of what we did and invite you to share in the comments what you liked and what you might like to see more of in the coming months.
The Karma class
During this open practice, I broke down exercises I’ve been working on for my own practice. While I started it off slowly, by the end, I turned the exercises into high-intensity drills. I’ve been wanting to start-up something like this for quite some time. The intention is that attendees follow along at the tempos they feel comfortable with, and use it as inspiration for their own personal practices. I’m hoping to run these sessions on a semi-occasional basis and have them be donation-based (to a charity or to our Kofi page, likely rotating between them).
The Spanish meet-up
For our first attempt at running a Spanish “meet up,” we translated a Spanish Christmas carol / lullaby with the help of my dad, José. This first session catered a lot to my personal queries about the Spanish language; however, before organizing the next one, I will likely reach out to those who attended to ask what you would like to focus on next (e.g., conversing, grammar, or diction, etc.), and what level Spanish you recommend I target. I’m hoping to host these once a month. In the meantime, I have included my take-aways and fun facts below. May I propose that those of us who attended try and learn the refrain of the carol for next Christmas season, should we have the opportunity to sing it together at 2021 Christmas party?
Spanish meet-up notes
- Christmas carol: Fuentecilla que corres
- Composer, José Ramón Gomis, was from the Spanish province of Alicante, from where you also find the flamenco songs called, “cantes de levante,” which refer to the songs that developed in the south-eastern area of Spain, where the winds blow strongly and, thus, “levantan” (lift).
- Lyricist, Juan Francisco Muñoz y Pabón, was from the heartland of flamenco—the region of Andalusia. People from Spanish-speaking countries tend to take on both parents’ last names. For example, I am Claudia Lorena Aguirre Giralt. Aguirre is my father’s family name, and Giralt is my mother’s. Aristocracy and members of the clergy have traditionally used the word “y,” which means and, to delineate between the father’s and mother’s last names and to emphasize the lineage of both sides. Juan Francisco Muñoz y Pabón was a high-ranking member of the clergy. He advocated for the rights of gypsies to be recognized in the church at a time when high society opposed funerals for gypsies at Catholic cathedrals on account of their ethnic biases.
ruiseñor – nightingale. In the lullaby, the mother asks the nightingale not to sing while the baby is sleeping
selva – my understanding is that this can be translated into “the bush.” For a long time, I thought selva meant jungle, but it can also refer to a forest, rainforest, woods, or woodlands
alelíes – carnations
delirio – I was a little confused by this at first, because used to think delirium had a negative connotation and could include having hallucinations or losing one’s consciousness, but I know see it can also refer to passion or excitement, as in “delirious with love,” as the song suggests
brota – “a sprout” or “to sprout.” In the lullaby, the mother says that it is from within her soul where her singing sprouts
Translation of Fuentecilla que corres – Little fountain that runs
A la nanita nana, nanita ea, nanita ea,
mi Jesús tiene sueño, bendito sea,
Little lullaby, little lullaby
My Jesus is sleepy, what a blessing,
what a blessing.
For our first Flamenco Flick event, we watched Gurumbé: Afro-Andalusian Memories, a documentary which brings to light the realities of the slave trade in Andalusia. It highlights how African music and dance is integrated into flamenco. Regrettably, much of this influence has gone overlooked and remains undocumented.
I’ve heard that during this past summer, many Ontarians have souped up in their backyards and used projectors to host outdoor movie nights. This gets me thinking about how we might be able to do something similar this summer. There are several flamenco movies out there to be enjoyed.
For quite some time now, we’ve been wanting to start a club where people can learn how to clap all those funky flamenco rhythms. We’ve often thought how approaching this as a “club” as opposed to a “class” would allow for learning in a more social way, creating an ambience where we can get to know about each others’ interests in travel, flamenco, Spanish culture, cuisine, etc. For this session, we had fun talking with good friend and fellow flamenca, Kim Macedo, who resides in the GTA and has spent a lot of time studying in Jerez. She told us all about what Christmas is like at the Zambombas (Christmas parties).
While running a palmas club over Zoom is limiting because of sound delay issues, we’re hoping that starting this from the comfort of our homes gets everyone revved up for when we can finally clap along together in person.
A great, big thank-you
Thank you to everyone who has expressed their support to us throughout 2020. To those of you who know that online lessons, or outdoor, masked dance classes are not for you, we completely understand. Online learning can certainly be cumbersome, and while dancing in the great outdoors sounds romantic, struggling to hear over construction, or doing cardio in a mask, can be less than ideal. We look forward to getting back to the studio at a later time, and we very much appreciate that there has been a continued interest in our classes. Thank you, especially, to those of you who have written just to check-in and send some cheer our way. It’s reassuring that you’re still part of our flamenco fam.
If you have given our online classes a try and have some tips or suggestions for improvement (within our reach, of course), we’d happy to hear from you.
And to those of you who have steadily taken classes with us throughout the pandemic, we cannot thank you enough. Not only have you helped us survive the pandemic, but you’ve made us feel valued and confident that we have the potential to deliver in new ways. Thank you for your friendly feedback and for helping us to gradually become better at what we do.