… if you include sitting outside in the sun for a 2-hour lunch as “activity.”

St. Michael casting Satan out of Heaven in Iglesia de San Miguel

I think it has been getting a degree or two cooler each morning. It was 45 when we went out. We visited another old church, called Iglesia de San Miguel, which we have seen previously. On our first visit, it was dark and stormy and the wind swirled around inside and opened and closed doors mysteriously. Nothing like that this time, though. The weather was bright and clear and we spent time trying to determine when different parts of the church were built. It was begun in 1484, so in local terms it isn’t that old. As often happens with big church construction projects this one took many years to complete and construction spanned several architectural styles. A section of the church (the sacristy) has been opened since our last visit. Some of the side chapels look as if they haven’t received much attention for a long time. [Pictures on the pictures page.]

Jerez Cathedral with the sun hiding behind the tower on the right.

After San Miguel, we walked over to the Alcázar and warmed up a little in the watery sun. After circling the Alcázar (”fortress”) we walked over to the Jerez Cathedral which is formally known as “Cathedral of Jerez de la Frontera / Colegiata de Nuestro Señor San Salvador”. It’s simpler to just call it the Cathedral. Prices to visit have gone up there, so we passed on going inside, but I got some exterior pictures. We then headed back to the restaurant / shopping area where we were planning to have lunch. By this time, the weather had warmed up to a balmy 60 degrees or so.

We ate at Albores (again) where we were joined by our friend Amarita. Lunch took a couple of hours but sitting outside was pleasant.

Around this time on our trips to Jerez for the festival, I start to run out of superlatives to describe the espectáculos we see. This year I am running out early because many of the shows have been superlative. [See what I did there?] One of Tuesday’s performances may deserve a new set of superlatives.

Aricela Muñuz and Manuel Montez after Cómplices

At Sala Compañía we saw a good, enjoyable, performance by Araceli Muñoz and Manuel Montes called Cómplices as in “accomplices.” When they danced together I think they were better than when they danced individually. I can’t quite put my finger on “why,” but I did not think it was a great performance. Patricia disagrees. In any case we saw some very good dancing and the accompanying cante, guitarra, and percusión were all better than good, particularly when the cantaores sang together.

Joaquin Grilo after Cucharón y Paso Atrás

At Villamarta we saw a performance of Chucarón y Paso Atrás  (Ladle and Step Back, which only makes sense if you saw the performance) by Joaquin Grilo and company. Here is a translation of part of the synopsis: ”This show wants to evoke the hard work in the fields, the difficult work of the miner, the intense activity of forging iron in the forge, the painful occupation of the day laborers who from dawn to dusk and for endless months made their life in the farmhouses. It is dedicated to those who worked the earth with the sweat of their brow, to those who knew how to shape metal over fire, to all those who extracted mineral from a mine by the light of a carbide. We have been inspired by them and it is dedicated to all of them, as we know best, singing, playing and dancing.” {Here is the original.] A couple of posts ago I said that I usually disregard the synopsis, but I am glad I read this one because it describes exactly what was in the performance. The first several minutes were used to show, in dance form, work in the fields, in the mines, and at the forge. Grilo used mostly classical ballet moves in this first part, and in the second part he expanded the introductions with flamenco rhythms and dance.

It is just silly to say something like “Boy, could he dance.” While it is true, it does not give any idea at all of the choreography, the skill, the fluidity, or the way Grilo was able to make us feel the emotions of the characters he was portraying. The cantaores and the guitarras also played roles in the production in addition to supplying the music. Each part of the production flowed seamlessly into the next. We usually sit in the balcony because we think we get the best view there. But this time I could not find seats there or up in the nosebleed seats and we ended up in the orchestra in row 6. That really worked out well for us. We could hear murmurs of excitement from the opening minutes. At the end of many performances there is what is called the fin de fiesta (the end of the party) and the cast sings and dances its way off the stage. At the end of this performance, instead of going offstage, the cast came into the audience and led what can only be described as a parade out of the auditorium. This performance will stick with us for years and we hope we get to see it again. It was touching and uplifting and one of the best things we have seen.

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