From Cabbagetown, to Vaughan, to Norway
The first ever K-W festival is fast approaching and, believe it or not, we’ve embarked on a trip to Oslo (Julian’s hometown) just weeks before! Our visits with Julian’s old friends and family have given us the opportunity to reflect on how much we’ve done in the short amount of time since registering our business. Summer is but half way through and already we have been able to partake not only in the June Toronto Tablao, but mere days before departing, in three other events, each in distinct pockets of the GTA.
The first of this three-event series was Carmen Romero’s School of Flamenco Dance Arts’ 25th year student recital at The Winchester Theatre in Toronto’s Cabbagetown. Much to our content, Carmen invited us to be part in the finale number, which was especially memorable as it was danced by Carmen, herself. Much to my surprise, it was danced partly by me also! I was recruited to sing and give palmas for Carmen, but amidst this, Carmen pointed to my feet leaving me much obliged to whip out some moves! I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was doing at first, but like the supportive teacher she is, Carmen guided me and, in the end, I hope my delivery did not disappoint (if it did, I must confess that I had fun regardless). Carmen, thank you for inviting us to be part of the celebration. What with living part-time in Scarborough and Waterloo, we don’t always get the opportunity to be involved with Toronto flamenco schools regularly, so it makes us especially glad when we are included.
The second event was the 36th Bayview Ballet Gala at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. I have been an instructor at the Bayview Ballet School for three years. Each year the experience becomes more meaningful and the flamenco becomes more developed. This year was the first time the Bayview Ballet School was able to include live flamenco musicians as part of the recital, which was to me, as the instructor, fulfilling and exciting. Linda Chapman and my dad kindly volunteered their time and voices so that I, too, could dance with one of the groups. Thank you both very much for your work in learning the songs and for coming to the rehearsals. A special thank you to my K-W student and friend, Susan Watters, who was originally going to be part of this event as well. On account of the hours it would take to commute to and from Kitchener for rehearsals, Sue graciously put her vocal accompaniment on pause until the K-W Flamenco Fest ‘juerga’. Sue, you nevertheless served as inspiration for one of the pieces. And to Julian, I am grateful for you volunteering your time to accompany Bayview Ballet classes over the past two years. You came time and time again to help me accompany and even co-teach because you knew how enriching it would be for the students.
The last of the June series of events exceeded our expectations. A few months ago, dance therapist (and flamenco student), Ayana Spivak kindly put me in touch with the director of Wheel Dance Canada. As hinted at by their title, Wheel Dance specializes in providing dance classes for persons in wheelchairs. This group of committed and engaged individuals had never danced flamenco before. In fact, I suspect several might have never seen live flamenco before. And yet, we both had quite the buzz after teaching this great group of people. Palmas has never been so fun! Thank you Wheel Dance for accepting our workshop application. We hope we can work with you again in the future. If you’re interest in learning more about Wheel Dance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Norway trip is now reaching its last legs. So far, we’ve been able to see some of Julian’s relatives in musical action. One cousin is the lead singer of punk-rock group, Razorbats, whom we recently had the pleasure to seeing as they opened up for The Offspring. Other talented family members include a member of the Bergen Philharmonic, and students and an alumnus of the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Grieg Academy. At a family wedding, we had the privilege of listening to them play alongside their brass-player friends, one of whom is world-renowned trumpeter, Tine Thing Helseth.
In addition to taking-in family talent, Julian got to re-connect with one of his first flamenco teachers, Jesus Panea Morente who was one of Julian’s most influential teachers in shaping who he is today as a musician and guitarist. In the brief time we met, I could already tell that he has a wealth of information and is an invaluable asset in Norway’s flamenco scene.
This is my first visit back to Norway since Julian and I partnered, not in business, but in matrimony. Thank you everyone for welcoming me to ‘the family’, be that in the familial sense or musical one.