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A cursory look at my short list of talents and skills will reveal what anyone who knows me will readily tell you: ballroom dancing is not one of my, eerrrhhh, strengths. Indeed, I was thinking of sitting this one out. But how could I resist? The big fling, after all, is put together by the very best blog friend anyone could ever have. Indeed, 10 months ago, when I first began blogging, willow was the very first person to visit, first to comment on my blog and first to sign up as a follower after my bashful pitch for blog friends. Indeed, I think I started most of those first blog posts "Dear willow...", but sheepishly dropped the introduction just before hitting the 'publish post' button. She has been a kind and supportive blog friend ever since. And, more to the point, her own blog is consistently engaging, enriching and stimulating. Willow is one of the finest poets to be found in the blogosphere, as you can see by clicking here. And most beautifully, there are so many other bloggers who will eagerly voice these same sentiments, who make a stop at the willow manor a part of every blog day. The first toast of the night will most certainly be for you, dear willow. "You're the best", to use a favorite and generous expression of yours!
As far as I know, I will be the lone guest from Spain, which strikes me as a bit of a responsibility. So rather than polishing off my foxtrotting or lindyhopping steps, I will try to bring some flamenco flair and fire to the festivities. For the occasion, I have asked the incredible Eva Yerbabuena to be my dance partner. Watch and enjoy the video below, and see that I will certainly have my work cut out for me. So wish me luck and wish willow all the best, today, on the 30th and always. See you there ...
I hope you get as much from this video as I do, although I know it is impossible for this medium, as wonderful as it is, to convey the raw power of such performances. Back in the 1980s and early 90s, before my daughters arrived on stage, I was a regular at various flamenco bars, venues, cellar caverns and hovels in Madrid, much as I had haunted jazz clubs in New York for so many years. I became friends with some of these artists and others kindly tolerated my grateful, fascinated presence. It is beyond me to describe the impact some of those all-night sessions had on me as I watched and listened to some of the finest singers, guitarists and dancers perform for each other, after hours, sometimes until 8 or 9 in the morning or whenever.
Some of the dancers, like Eva Yerbabuena in the video, completely knocked me out. Flamenco music is rhythmically very rich and complex and the rhythms that define the various palos (styles) can be highly sophisticated. Yet that artistry is put at the service of something that at moments seems primal, almost atavistic, the stylized outpouring of a savagery and wildness that can really shake one. I hope you feel a bit of that ferocious artistry in the clip.
Through my friendship with some flamenco guitarists, I was fortunate to be able to sit in, literally, on dance classes at the famous Amor de Dios flamenco dance school in Madrid. Since the dancing is so bound up with the guitar playing and singing, they would actually have guitarists and singers there. These were classes, not rehearsals for a show; yet, they would have two guitarists (teacher and advanced student) and a singer participate in all of the classes. Sitting on the floor while all of this was going on, with the dance instructor and as many as 20 students working on their moves, whirling, pounding, clattering steps, with the thrumming guitars and the singer's plaintive call, all in front of a room-length floor-to-ceiling mirror was a privileged experience I will never forget. I can still feel wave upon wave of those driving rhythms surging up my spine from the spot on the wooden floor where I sat in rapt witness two decades ago.
But, I never did learn to dance … and what all of this has to do with willow’s dance this Thursday, I do not know. Oh well, blame it on Eva Yerbabuena. Check her out.