I can see that writing a post a day is going to be challenge. Here it is, 5:30 Monday afternoon, and I haven’t written a word about Sunday’s events. The biggest stumbling block—besides getting back at 1:30 in the morning—is that the pictures are difficult to mange when I only have the iPad as a tool. I’ll get it figured out, though.
The weather is cool in the mornings. It has been in the low to mid-40s until late in the morning. But it isn’t too cold to sit outside for breakfast. Sunday morning we did just that. Unfortunately, the place we picked could have been better. Fortunately, there are hundreds more places we can try. After breakfast, which was admittedly late, we visited the archaeological museum in Jerez.
The archaeology museum has been renovated in the relatively recent past. The exhibits are carefully curated and I could read the signage, which is all in Spanish. The collection ranges from Paleolithic finds made in the area up to at least the period when Jerez was an Islamic city. It was named “Sherish” then. I wrote “up to at least” because we ran out of time after about an hour and a half of looking at the well-organized exhibits. Some of the early ceramics we saw reminded us of early ceramics in the American Southwest.
We wanted to attend another peña performance that started at 3:00, so we hiked back to the hotel and on to the peña, which is named Peña Flamenca la Buleria. The location is close and we have learned our lesson: we know to get to these performances well in advance of the starting time. We arrived shortly after 2:00. Because the peñas are social clubs, member get in first or have reserved seats. In this case, the doorkeeper knew who the members were and only after he was satisfied that most had found seats, did he let the rest of us in. We were able to find pretty good seats and we enjoyed the dancing of Fernando Jiménez along with good cante and palmas. You could tell that Fernando was well known and popular with the local people. The room was very crowded and people were standing 4 deep along the sides and back. Clearly, the fire marshal was not expected to show up.
After a short break, we went to Sala Compañia to watch the winners of the Turin festival from 2019. They were both very impressive. Maise Márquez used her 40 or so minutes to tell a story through song and dance in a program named “Habla la Tierra” (which I think is “The Earth Speaks”). It did not speak to me. Much of the baile was good, and the cante and guitarra were good, but the piece as a whole did not seem to be about anything. On the other hand, we both enjoyed the performance of Gabriel Matiás which was called “Ellos” (“Them”). Instead of a story, he showed us several pieces that showcased different styles. We particularly liked his Garrotin, for which he used a cane for rhythm.
After that, we hustled to Villamarta for the 9:00 show. No wrong turns this time. The original festival schedule had Isabel Bayón and a show called “Yo Soy.” We were looking forward to that show. However, shortly before we left Santa Fe, we were informed that there had been a last-minute change for medical reasons and we would see instead a show called “Por un Sueño” headed by Farru, a grandson of Farruca, who is a legend of flamenco. Of course we thought “this is a last minute substitution; how good will it be?”
We were so impressed with the multiple talents of Farru. He danced, he sang, AND he played the guitar. The other players in the compañia were equally talented. I can’t be completely sure, but I think we saw another performance whose goal was to show us flamenco puro. I say “puro” but I’m not sure anyone knows what pure flamenco is. What we saw was an excellent mix of old and updated forms. There may have been a story hidden in there, but the essence was the duende of flamenco. The set design and lighting were simple but effective. The energy of the performance was reflected back by the audience.
Are we done yet? No, we are not. After the performance and a quick catch-up with our friends from Santa Fe, we headed to our fourth performance of the day. La Guarida del Angel was a new location for us and we didn’t really know what to expect. The Villamarta holds hundreds of people. When we got to la Guarida, there were, it seemed, hundreds of people in the street outside the venue in a long queue. It turned out that many of those people did not have tickets—and we did. Inside, la Guarida is not like a clown car: there was no way all the people outside were going to get inside. (I was going to say like the TARDIS, but that may have lost some readers.)
Seating was crowded—really crowded, but people kept coming in. Finally, they stopped admitting people but it was close to midnight before the show, scheduled for 11:00, began. It was worth the wait and crowding. We saw Gemma Moneo, whom we have seen before. She put on a spectacular performance, unlike anything one would see in a larger venue. The crowd loved it, as did we. Because of the seating arrangements I was unable to see as much of her footwork as I would have liked, but I could hear it well. Both power and speed were on display.
It is now Monday night and we have seen two more performances, but more about our Monday later.