When Work Feels Like Play

20 Aug

I promised I would tell you about my new work.

For the longest time I couldn’t get excited about the prospect of returning to work. My travel life kept me stimulated and busy and I loved being able to write and publish on the go. It’s been a rare privilege. What regular job could compete? As for income, I funded our year two travel by managing investments from the sale of our house. I didn’t feel guilty about not pulling my weight financially, I spent less travelling than living in Australia.

Clearly what I need is work that strongly engages my interests and has a benefit to others. I also need to respect my colleagues and be able to work from almost anywhere at any time to keep my options open. Life is too short to fill it with 50 hour working weeks plugging away at same old, same old….

The light bulb went on when I met up with Australian-Spanish flamenco friend Sebastian Sanchez again in Seville early this year. Over a post class beer Sebastian said how much he got out of Maestro Andres Peña’s classes and that he’d love to bring Andres to teach in Australia. I concurred. Three months studying with Andres had demonstrated to me what a rare jewel he is. I rank him in the top three living male performer-teachers. So why not do it?

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After a few more beers and coffees we had our man and we had our plan. The Andres Peña Australian Flamenco Workshop Tour 2013 was a reality but we had to sit on it while we carefully worked through all the issues and logistics. Believe me, not talking about our project, except to Sebas, was the hardest part!

Sebastian flew back to home base in Moscow where he and his Russian wife opened their new flamenco school. I travelled on. Over the next few months we crunched the numbers and put our plans into action with fantastic support from key people in the Australian flamenco community, Singapore and in Spain. Andres would be teaching three levels of workshops with brand new choreography in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Come late June the timing was right to let the world know. The tour website launched in Flamenco World Australia followed by our Facebook group and twitter feed. The response has been as huge.

Although we’ve disappointed dancers in Melbourne and Sydney (Andres had a time limit on his availability so we had to make hard calls on the venues) they have rallied round. Sebastian and I will support interstate participants to the hilt to get them to the workshops.

As far as the work goes it’s a labour of love for both of us. We do it all ourselves apart from outsourcing the work visa to a specialist (who happens to be a flamenca). I make the bookings, manage the finances, write the regular blog updates and communicate with potential participants while Sebastian takes responsibility for communicating with Andres, our migration consultant, the workshop guitarists and our many flamenco partners. Sebas and I talk on skype to manage issues as they arise.

We’ve costed the tour on a break even basis because we want as many Australian dancers as possible to get the benefit of Andres’ brilliance without the cost of travelling to Spain. Any profit will be ploughed back into our next project.

Barring unforseen catastrophic events (believe me I know about Black Swans*) Andres will teach the workshops in the first three weeks of December. After the last ¡Ole! rings out and Andres is safely on the plane home to Seville in time for Christmas Sebastian and I will celebrate with a few more quiet beers before he heads back to Russia. And who knows what we’ll dream up next?!

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A sweaty Sebas and me after his alegrias workshop at Caloundra last year.

To see Andres in action watch my my favourite video clip. It’s by an amateur videographer – one shot, no edits – which just highlights how pure Andres’ flamenco is. No bells or whistles just guitar, voice and clapping. Admittedly the others on stage are all luminaries of flamenco. The piece is from his show ‘Sin Frontera’ (no borders/boundaries).

*To understand Black Swan theory read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest book ‘Antifragility: Things that Gain from Disorder’ or his home page: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com Taleb is an economics iconoclast and irritating at times but his ideas are important and we ignore them at our peril.

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