February 28 and March 1
Trying to take it in stride
I have mentioned the rain and wind in previous posts. It is now Friday morning and it is still raining and very windy. In fact, the rain is blowing sideways, which makes umbrellas (paraguas) pretty useless. The weather has contributed to our decisions not to take a couple of daytrips we had planned to Cadiz and Puerta Santa Maria.
On Wednesday, which was Andalucia Day, it rained nearly all day. We didn’t head to the old town until later in the day, so we don’t know if any of the fiesta day celebrations took place. But I doubt they did. When we did get out, about 5:00, we found that there were very few shops open. I presume that was because Wednesday was a fiesta day. None of the restaurants which normally have table set up outside showed any activity at all and there were very few pedestrians.
We went back to Gabriela’s restaurant and had a nice meal in their small inside dining room. I would have said “cozy,” but two of the walls were stone and they radiated cold. In fact, I think the dining room was actually colder than the outside.
We saw three performances Wednesday evening and were fortunate that the rain didn’t bother us as we walked between locations.
At González Byass we saw Rocío Márquez. She is a very good singer and was accompanied by a saxophone player, a percussionist, and a piano player, all of whom were quite accomplished. If that mix sounds like a jazz band, it might have been; while the song styles (palos) were traditional, and were sung the way you would hear flamenco cante done, the accompaniment and treatment really reminded me of jazz. [Which shows how little I really know about flamenco palos, cante, and musicality in general.] Patricia and I enjoyed the performance a lot.
We didn’t enjoy Rocío Molina’s show “Caída del Cielo” at Teatro Villamarta very much at all and I think the audience was split in their approval. There is no doubt that she can dance (when she isn’t rolling around on the floor or dragging a mud-covered dress around the stage, etc.) but there was too much symbolism (which I could not understand) to make the performance enjoyable.
While we liked Rocío Márquez a lot, we REALLY liked Migue Ángel Heredia’s performance at Sala Compañia called “Sentío Cabal” (I felt full). We saw El Largo–he is very tall–at a peña last year and looked forward to seeing him again. We were not disappointed. He is one of the most graceful dancers we have seen and he seems to revel in his dancing. He smiles as he dances and he seems to make the people around him more alive. When we saw him last year, there were many members of his [extended] family in the audience and the same was true this year. He surprised us at the end of the performance by singing. I say “us” because Patricia and I did not know that was one of his skills although others probably knew. We are constantly surprised by the wide range talents we see in the flamenco community.
If you want to see some closer-to-home examples of multi-talented performers, I suggest that you attend an Entreflamenco performance in Santa Fe. [Descarada recomendación para Antonio, Estefania, y compañia.]
A drawback to the late-night performances is that we don’t get back until 1:30 or 2:00. We can usually get to sleep quickly, but Wednesday night was an exception because shortly after we got home the rain and wind started up again in fully fury, this time accompanied by thunder.
On Thursday, just before noon, fortified by tostas at the apartment, we walked to the equestrian school, which is literally across the street. The La Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation) sounds old, but I was surprised to discover that it only dates back (officially) to 1973. It goal is to preserve tradition. One of the ways it does that is by training horses and riders and it demonstrates by putting on a show called “Cómo Bailan los Caballos Andaluces” (How the Andalusian Horses Dance). The show is a big tourist attraction. It was enjoyable, but not exciting. And, they were stinky about photographs, announcing in no fewer than 5 languages that photos were forbidden. Given all of the videos they were selling, I can see why they don’t want spectators to take their own. Thus, the photos I took—in defiance of the ban—are not well-composed.
While the rain had mostly stopped by the afternoon, the wind was averaging 36mps.
It made walking tricky, but we managed to get to the pasteleria, where we stocked up on coffee and pastries just in case the weather stayed bad.
Thursday evening we saw two performances. At Sala Compañia, Emelio Ochando was very enjoyable. Imaginative staging added to the production. Emilio, like Miguel Ángel, has an infectious smile and every time he smiled at the audience we smiled back. Several of the performances we have seen have been a fusion or mix. This show seemed to mix Spanish dance ballet and flamenco. Emilio danced in both styles—sometimes within the same number—and was accompanied by a bilaora (flamenco) and a bailarina (ballet) dancer. Those two were usually not on stage at the same time. They were dressed (costumed?) traditionally, while Emilio, probably purposefully, was not clearly dressed in either way. The music was mostly traditional and the two cantadores worked well together.
At Villamarta Alfonso Losa’s show “Con-Sequencia” was full of energetic and well-choreographed dance. It had some clever visual “illusions” such as dancing with himself in a mirror (which wasn’t really a mirror) and with a shadow of himself where at first the two were perfectly aligned but then moved apart before coming back together. The music and dancing were quite good, but by the end seemed a little repetitious. The performance started at a high level and stayed there; there seemed to be no “stretch”. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it.
The rain held off until we got back to the apartment but started back up in the middle of the night along with more high wind. It is just after 1:00 pm on Friday and the rain is still blowing sideways. We are hoping to get to the Archeological Museum today before our two performances this evening.
There are now a few pictures on the pictures page.
Here is the track of where we walked on Thursday.