Last Tangos in Seville

28 Jan

A few times in a lifetime we bear witness to greatness.

Most of my moments have been in the company of gifted performance artists who prove also to be excellent teachers. You’ve heard me rave before about outstanding flamenco artist-teachers and I’m happy to give credit where credit is due; Andres Peña, Manuel Betanzos, Angel Muñoz, Leonor Leal, Olga Pericet, Manuel Liñan, Francesca Grima, Mercedes Ruiz, all occupy the highest branches of my flamenco tree. Now Eduardo Guerrero has earned the right to join them. Imagine the love child of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and the legendary flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya and you get an idea of what Eduardo looks and acts like.
On stage he dances literally and figuratively on the edge. Twice now I’ve witnessed him push himself to the extreme outer limits of his ability. At age 33 he’s in his prime, his body a finely-tuned instrument. However a dancer’s skill is nothing without sparking emotion in an audience. Duende. Eduardo’s supreme gift is to be in synch with the musicians, himself and the audience simultaneously. He misses nothing. Serious when the moment calls for it, yes, but his fundamental setting is playfulness. And humour, the X-factor for me, is never far from the surface.He has a punishing international workshop and performance schedule so there are lots of opportunities to see him for yourself. From Seville Eduardo goes to Almeria then Colombia, Mexico and back to Jerez for his Villamarta show March 10. Check him out at @eduardoguerrobailaor

 

In 14 days at Academia Manuel Betanzos (Edu missed a Monday class because of a virus he caught in France when he travelled and performed over a weekend) we mastered 3.5 minutes of his tangos choreography. And when I say mastered I don’t mean we’re perfect, but I can comfortably dance his choreography beginning to end and it looks pretty good! Given my goldfish memory for past choreographies this is quite an accomplishment at sixty.

The ever helpful Miguel Perez played for our classes. My only regret is that we didn’t have a singer. As we were only between 4-6 students in class I imagine the fees didn’t cover the cost of a singer.

Aside from daily class with Edu and my singing class we made a Saturday trip to Jerez for me to take a private bata de cola (long-tailed skirt) technique class with Pilar Ogalla in her studio. Pilar’s teaching alegrias con bata de cola in the first week of the Festival de Jerez and I know from painful experience it’s advisable to work on technique and stamina before you start daily one hour 50 minute classes!

It looks deceptively easy but the strength and coordination needed to control the skirt is bloody difficult. I needed to review the basics as it’s been years since I took a bata class. Pilar broke the movements down for me, let me video her and ensured I had my weight distributed correctly. The proof of her success was that I made the skirt ‘float like a parachute’ and had zero back or butt pain afterwards. Now it’s up to me to put in the training pre-Jerez so I can absorb the choreography.

Here Pilar demonstrates a simple skirt lift with arms.

My new, much lighter skirt!

We even squeezed in an afternoon flamenco session at Tabanco El Pasaje.Stuart is adjusting well to his Seville lifestyle. We’ve only had two rainy days so most afternoons he rides my bicycle, does yoga and runs up the stairs for fitness. He is off to ski soon.Stuart at breakfast above and Jerez below.He’s been a good sport about coming to the flamenco shows too. I think he has actually lifted his threshold for tolerance to three shows a week! The photos below are from Pena Torres Macarena performances by dancer Palmira Duran, guitarist Miguel Iglesias, and singer David ‘El Galli’.Right now we’re in the train on our way to Cordoba for the weekend. It’s been about thirteen years since our visit to Cordoba when the magic of flamenco first cast its spell on me. I’ll be looking for more of the same!

2 Responses to “Last Tangos in Seville”

  1. trevor willis January 28, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

    STUART— YOU ARE A BLOODY LEGEND !!!!!

    • Sharon Tickle January 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

      Your message has been passed on Trevor. Love to you and Marg. S

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