It amazes me how quickly the days go by. It isn’t that we want them to go by quickly, but on this trip we have had one scheduled activity after another.
Yesterday (Monday, the 27th) for example, we had a walking tour, a multi-hour lunch, and 3 flamenco performances. In fact, it was so busy that I excused myself from the lunch so I could have a little down time.
Our walking tour for Monday was through Barrio Santiago. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and it too is famous for the number of flamenco artists born in the area. Our first stop was the Church of San Marcos, which dates back to the 13th century. I’ll skip the history lesson, but several churches in Jerez were constructed around that time which was right after the Moors were “definitively” defeated in the area. The San Marcos church was apparently not well-constructed and has had to undergo several restorations. We were only able to peek inside to see the very high ceiling and some of the decorations because there was a service going on. There were only 4 worshipers and at least the sermon part of the service was a recording. There were placards / signs posted which told how to send money electronically to support more repair work. I’m sure that no one in the 13th century could have imagined the 21st century appeal for electronic funds.
Right around the corner from San Marcos is one of the performance venues—Sala Compañia. We like the venue because it only holds about 250 people and it is easy to see the stage from every seat. It is a short walk from our apartment. In fact, most of the venues are within about 10 minutes. Only one, where Yjastros performed, is as much as 15 minutes away.
Our next stop was at the “Centro Andaluz De Flamenco Junta De Andalucía” which is, as the name implies, a center for information about flamenco. It is housed in an old Jerez palacio. [a “palacio” can range in size from a modest but well-appointed building to a real palace, so don’t read too much into the term.] There is a wealth of information about flamenco here and it has an extensive library. Right now it houses an exhibition of photos of well-known local flamenco artists. Patricia and I will try to get back before we leave Jerez.
I skipped the lunch at La Crus Blanca. But Patricia told me it was quite good.
We had 3 performances on Monday. The first was at Sala Compañia where we saw two performers who split the performance time. Both performers were dancers. Carmen Young’s performance was good and covered a wide range of dance. Iván Orellana really wowed us with his active dance and his arm movement (I’m sure there is a flamenco term for that) and rapid footwork.
Once again we had to hurry to Villamarta to insure we were there for the start. We were there to see Macro Flores’s show “Sota, Caballo y Reina, jondismo actual.” The cante and dance were great. I could not possibly do justice to a description of the performance, but I can point you to a page on the website for the Festival Flamenco Albuquerque, which takes place in June 2023, and which will stage this production: Sota, Cabello y Reina, jondismo actual. One thing I can say about the performance is that we saw a couple of people who were left in tears. It was very powerful.
We had a quick walk from Villamarta to Gonzalez-Byass to see a much smaller-scale performance by the cantaor Pepe De Pura. It was just Pepe and guitarist Juan Requena and it was nearly an hour of non-stop cante. Pepe sings very clearly, but I still understand very little.
Tuesday was the long-awaited performance by the Yjastros Repertory company. Our anticipation—and nervousness—were high. How would they perform? How would the audience respond? Would anyone actually show up to see them? Remember that groups from outside Spain are not invited to perform at this festival, so that was a legitimate question.
I had thought that the company would arrive several days early and would have time to get used to the stage, lighting, and sound setup, but I was wrong. They had less than a day. The luggage with some of the costumes was temporarily lost, too.
But all the questions were answered positively. The audience was large and enthusiastic. Yjastros performed magnificently. They showed no signs of nerves and there were no hitches in the performance of Xicano Power. Comments from all the attendees we spoke with were uniformly positive.
It was a triumph.
There was a big celebratory meal after the show. There were more than 50 people at Casa Sanchez to talk about the performance and to celebrate with Yjastros. We had tickets for a 6:30 show, but could see we would not get there on time. We were able to give our tickets to one of the NIF staff members, which pleased us greatly.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, will be a return to the more normal kind of trip for us. There are no group activities planned for the rest of our time in Jerez.
Below is a map of where we walked on Monday, the 27th.