Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a short story (completely random)

Definitely unrelated: a short story by yours truly

“Platanos, tomates, mangos, bananos, limonsillos, mmm mangos muy riccos!!!” Shouted a man from his megaphone while cruising the field in his rusty, blue pick-up truck.  He swerved the truck and parked in front of a small house with a black iron staircase leading to the second floor of the house.  The staircase merged in to a gate made of heart-shaped swirls that created a pattern and sturdy railing where an older woman leaned. 
“Senora, would you like to by some platanos today, you know I’ll give you a special price” said the man as he winked, thinking his suave nature would make the sale.
“Not today, I’m out of money.  I’m sorry but you’ll have to come back another day”, said the lady. 
The man stared at the dirt ground, pensively.  The goofy smile returned to his face and he handed a bunch of plantains to a neighborhood boy to bring up to the senora.
“These are on me,” he said.
“Aye, thank you.  Come back tomorrow, I’m going to need a bunch of your good mangos for my grandson who’s visiting tomorrow.  You know I would never buy from someone else”, said the lady, returning the wink.  
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back.  Have a good day”, and with that the man jumped back in to his pick up and continued selling his truck-full of fruits and vegetables.
            The next morning, Jacqueline woke to the crackling of frying oil.  Her Grandmother was pressing hot plantain slices between two plates to make flat plantain pancakes, perfect for frying!  Waking up from a bad night, Jacqueline was relieved to know that she could still rely on her grandma for making the delicious fried plantains that always started her day off feeling at home, protected, and comforted like the naive child her grandmother still treated her as.  But, she knew better.  And she could still feel that pang in her stomach reminding her that she was no longer the innocent child her grandmother thought she was and that a few fried plantains were not going to make that go away.  All of a sudden, Jacqueline decided she wasn’t hungry anymore and returned to her room quietly as not to let her grandma know she had awake.  She crept back in to bed, easily falling in to a deep sleep in hopes that it would take her mind off of things for a few more hours.   

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a little outdated, but enjoy!


      I recently saw an astounding flamenco performance at MIT, the performance was a fusion of middle eastern music and flamenco dance.  The performance began with a few musical pieces which led to a dance of flamenco influenced belly-dance.  It just goes to show, that two completely different dances can  come together beautifully when you find the similarities between the dances while still having a nice contrast.  The show also included outstanding performances by Nino and Isaac de los Reyes.  The performance was exciting, fast paced, and a good taste of how flamenco performances are in Spain. 

Below is a photo of the Reyes brothers:



Hello all, I am a local Bostonian and wanted to let any of you who are interested know about classes offered close by:
Ramon De Los Reyes offers intermediate and advanced classes at the Dance complex in Cambridge. For information visit:

Eve Agush offers youth flamenco classes. For more information click on classes to the right at:

Sabrina Aviles offers beginner and advanced classes. For more information visit:
       All of these teachers offer have very different teaching styles that anyone can benefit from.  Flamenco classes can be hard to find here in New England, unless you go out and search for them.  These are not all of the teachers here in Boston, but i will continue my search and update you on different classes and teachers that i find.  

Flamenco and American folk come together......what?!?

The band Iron and Wine was started by Sam Beam from South Carolina.  Their first album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, which came out in 2002 was described to be a mix of indie and folk.  Their music can be compared to that of Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, and Nick Drake.  That is why I was shocked to find a video of flamenco dancers dancing to an acoustic, very American song by Iron and Wine.  However, after the shock I began to really enjoy the out of the ordinary combination.  The video not only includes great choreography, but also amazing visual and special affects.  For instance notice the cartoon butterflies and swirls created by the dance teacher, dressed in red.
  Who would have ever guessed that such a mix would be possible.  However, I give a lot of credit to the artist for giving a very accurate representation of flamenco.  The dance is beautifully done and shows a lot of cultural aspects of flamenco such as the teacher dancing as well as the students.  Hopefully this video can open the eyes of those of you who enjoy either flamenco or American folky music, to see that cultures with such vast differences can fuse together to create something beautiful.  

El Jaleo

El Jaleo  by John Singer Sargent, 1882
            In the Spanish Cloister section of Boston's local Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, you can find the painting above.  The painting depicts a traditional flamenco dancer surrounded by guitarists and other dancers.  I believe aspects of the painting that make it stand out are the bright colors of the background dancers and the bright shading of the main dancer's skirt.  The painting is called Jaleo which is a word to mean the spontaneous clapping and shouting expressed in flamenco performances.  
            This painting is very important to me because it is a way of capturing and preserving the roots of flamenco.  Flamenco experiences a lot of changes and has been modernized over the years, so it is important to remember its roots.  Also it shows just how wide spread the culture of flamenco is.  I love that the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is such a significant landmark in my community and that it embraces all different cultures, including the culture of flamenco.  Some day I hope to visit the museum and see one my favorite paintings.
* another plus for those of you who live in Boston, all kids under the age of eighteen are free along with people who have the name "Isabella".  So take a day trip to the Spanish influenced museum and enjoy its variety of paintings and other forms of artwork. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flamenquera Eve Agush

An interview with flamenco and tap dancer Eve Agush:

Q: what do you think it takes to become a professional dancer? What strengths must a person have to become a professional dancer?
A: You need to have perseverance; you must learn your craft; you must work hard; you must have personal dedication, strength and stamina; you must follow directions well and take corrections and criticisms well; you must learn from the corrections/criticism that you receive; you must take care of your body and your soul (prevent injuries, eat well, meditate, stretch, yoga); you must take as many dance classes as you can and practice;you must shine on stage! You must audition and I guess you would need to have a flexible job. Understand that dancers do not make a lot of money, do not have much artistic freedom, and must love what they do to survive.

Q: what was your motivation to become a dancer?
A: I have never thought of myself as a professional dancer, although I am a professional. I have always thought of ,myself as a professional artist who uses dance as her medium. I love being an artist and was raised by an artist. I did try to become something else but art was just in my soul and I realized I had to recognize it.

Q: When and how did you know that you wanted to dance as a career?
A: The career just came upon me. As i learned more and more dance technique and more about choreography and movement, it led to my desire to show people what I could do. I have always been a natural performer and a natural teacher. Along with being a professional dancer, I am a dance teacher. My career has taken many shapes and forms: being in a company, creating my own choreography, teaching dance, choreographing student companies, working at studios and teaching and choreographing for them. I have now added creating an in-school yoga program, finding grant funding to get the program off the ground and being hired through another grant program to teach dance in the Boston Public School system.

Q: What advice would you give to people who have the same dream of pursuing dance as a career?
A: Follow your dreams and be ready for a wonderful ride. Stay open to all the paths that are presented to you. Find your gurus and learn all that you can. Make sure you are following your dream and not someone elses. Be ready to work hard and love it.

Q: Why do you love dance and what is your inspiration?
A: Dancing allows me to express my creativity. I love the structure of technique and the freedom of artistry. I am inspired by my mother, my teachers, my inner spirit, my students, the natural world, knowledge, life, the freedom art gives me. I think allowing myself to always learn new things is one of my greatest inspirations...that is something I get from my mom. She was never afraid to learn something new. I love to learn.  
* I began learning Flamenco with Eve Agush at the age of eight and have continued dancing ever since.  She is an amazing teacher who has the ability to make one dance well, but more importantly fall in love with dancing.  Over the years that I have known Eve I have learned a lot of unforgettable life lessons along with the techniques necessary to dance Flamenco.  Below is a photo of Eve in a red and black polka dotted dress as she dances along the street with students.                                       

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flamenco and ballet, same or different?

             I do realize that in my last post I explained that there are similarities between the roots of flamenco and ballet.  However, at the same time it is important to realize the vast differences between the two dances.  There are the obvious things such as the clothing, the music, and choreography, but these two paintings demonstrate the distinction between the mood and themes of the dances.  Look at the audience in the second painting; you can see that the crowd is held back by railings and sitting far from the stage.  After watching several ballet videos, it was obvious that traditional method of watching ballet does not involve the audience interacting very much with the dancers.  Usually the music is played off- stage from the dancers and the audience members sit even further away from the dancers.  This set up makes sense when you go back to the performances held in the royal presence of King Louis, which you can imagine must have been very proper and elegant. 
          Flamenco on the other hand, started on the streets with the clapping of the audience to hold the beat for the dancers.  From the beginning of flamenco history to today, dancers continue to perform on the side walks of Sevilla and are praised by shouts such as the notorious, "Ole" from audience members.  Even in professional performances it is natural for the audience to shout phrases of encouragement to the dancers.  Can you imagine someone in the audience of the Boston Ballet watching the Nut Cracker clapping along for the dancers and shouting during the middle of their performance?  It seems rude, right? But in flamenco, it's totally acceptable and encouraged.
           You will also notice in the painting that in the ballet picture, the musicians are no where to be seen.  But, in the flamenco painting the musicians are right near the dancers.  One thing I really enjoy about flamenco dancing is that you dance with the guitarist, opposed to performing separately.  I love ballet, but i don't like how the dancers very rarely interact with their musicians.  In flamenco, a dancer may look at her musician, dance around him/her, and most importantly play off of each others movements.  For instance if the guitar speeds up so does the dancer and if the dancer changes her movements the guitarist will play along and change his/her music.  Over all, I believe this makes flamenco a much more festive dance than ballet because it is custom for people watching to get excited and involved with the dance. 
* On another note, while looking for ballet and flamenco images I began looking at a lot of the beautiful art.  I believe it is really special how the art of dance is expressed through the art of painting, and I will be exploring that further in future posts, so keep reading!! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

              One of the fundamental building blocks of flamenco is ballet.  The two dances are strongly related and have been fused for generations.  Ballet began during renaissance Italy as it was performed in courts.  Le Ballet Comique de la Reine was one of the first ballets performed in Paris, France in 1581.  King Louis XVI, also known as the Sun King, popularized ballet in France as he participated in ballet performances held in his courts during the 1600s.  He danced in high-heeled shoes with large guilt buckles and pointed his toes to show off the buckles.  Ironically, his awkward foot movements laid down the foundations for the 5 basic positions in ballet.  Like flamenco, ballet dances are very theatrical with themes ranging from dramas, stories, mythology, and of course romance.  When first comparing flamenco and ballet, the two seem like complete opposites.  One involves loud stomping and rhythmic guitar, while the other is based on soft graceful feet and classical music.  Nonetheless, flamenco has undoubtedly adopted many ideas from ballet including the basic five positions.  For instance, when dancing Sevillanas, you must always start in what is known as the third position in ballet.  Also, a turn in flamenco known as a "vuelta cebrada" greatly resembles a pirouette.  Both dances are also known for having many people dancing a synchronized dance.  The two dances have also been fused over the years.  For instance, ballet has been done with castanets and flamenco has been danced to classical music.  Bellow is a video of Sevillanas done to classical music, accenting the influences of ballet on the dance.  Below that link is a video to demonstrate a classical ballet piece.   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ramon De Los Reyes

            For my next flamenco research paper, I will be exploring the story behind Ramon De Los Reyes, a man who I am proud to have as my dance teacher.  He was born and raised in Madrid, Spain and at the age of 7 began dancing flamenco with gyspsies.  He has been a performer all of his dancing career and at the age of 13 began to touring around the world while continuing to be taught by influential dancers such as Manolo Vargas, Enrique " el Cojo " , Perice, La Quica, Antonio Marin, and several more.  As he grew as a dancer, Ramon De los Reyes co-founded the Reyes-Soler dance company along with Ximinez-Vargas.  His company traveled throughout all of North America, South America, and Europe.  He became more recognized as a dancer winning awards such as a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico,  recognition for Excellence in Dance from Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Recognition for Artistic Contribution to the people of Massachusetts from Governor Michael Dukakis, and many more.  In 1976, he started the Spanish dance Theater, New England's only professional Spanish dance company.  Within his company, Ramon collaborates with many world famous artists including Clara Ramona, the mother of his two sons Isaac and Nino De Los Reyes, who also contribute to his company.  Along with being a professional dancer and outstanding teacher, Ramon successfully raised his two sons Isaac and Nino to become professional dancers themselves and who like their father travel around the world performing and sharing their wisdom of flamenco.  Ramon however, has retired from touring and now teaches classes at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, Massachusetts along with running his company.  He is married to Maria Morena and they have a young daughter who dances flamenco and ballet.  Ramon De Los Reyes is a man who throughout the years has stayed true to his family and culture in every place that his dancing career has taken him.  He supports myself and several other dances to not only dance flamenco, but love flamenco with a passion.  I find my teacher remarkable because after all of his years of dancing, his devotion to flamenco has not faded one bit.  No matter how much  a student struggles in his class, he makes it clear that one day you will understand and "get" the dance, and it will all be worth it.  Frequently he tells students, to first dance with your mind and later with your heart.  To some he is a flamenco teacher, but to me is more than that, he is a large part of my inspiration and motivation to continue dancing, practice after every class, and believe that by dancing through life flamenco will always remain a passion that I hope to be eternally devoted to. 


Thursday, November 4, 2010

This is a great website if you are looking to get involved in flamenco classes, performances, and culture within your community.  

Castanuelas :D :D :D

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Carmen Amaya


Here is a good depiction of what Flamenco "looks like", but keep in mind that there are several different forms, beats, and moves in flamenco that are not shown in this fabulous piece by Carmen Amaya (la reina de flamenco)

Romance de la luna luna, By Federico Garica Lorca

La luna vino a la fragua
con su polisón de nardos.
El niño la mira, mira.
El niño la está mirando.
En el aire conmovido
mueve la luna sus brazos
y enseña, lúbrica y pura,
sus senos de duro estaño.

Huye luna, luna, luna.
Si vinieran los gitanos,
harían con tu corazón
collares y anillos blancos.

Niño, déjame que baile.
Cuando vengan los gitanos,
te encontrarán sobre el yunque
con los ojillos cerrados.

Huye luna, luna, luna,
que ya siento sus caballos.

Niño, déjame, no pises
mi blancor almidonado.

El jinete se acercaba tocando el tambor del llano. Dentro de la fragua el niño, tiene los ojos cerrados.
Por el olivar ven'an, bronce y sueño, los gitanos. Las cabezas levantadas y los ojos entornados.
Cómo canta la zumaya,
¡ay, cómo canta en el árbol!
Por el cielo va la luna
con un niño de la mano.

Dentro de la fragua lloran,
dando gritos, los gitanos.
El aire la vela, vela.
El aire la está velando.
The moon came to the forge
   with her skirt of white, fragrant flowers.
   The young boy watches her, watches.
   The boy is watching her.
In the electrified air
   the moon moves her arms
   and points out, lecherous and pure,
   her breasts of hard tin.

Flee, moon, moon, moon.
   If the gypsies were to come,
   they would make with your heart
   white necklaces and rings.

Young boy, leave me to dance.
   When they come, the gypsies
   will find you upon the anvil
   with closed eyes.

Flee, moon, moon, moon.
   Already I sit astride horses.
   Young boy, leave me, don’t step on
   my starched whiteness.

The horse rider approaches
   beating the drum of the plain.
   Within the forge the young man
   has closed eyes.

Through the olive grove they come,
   the gypsies –  bronze and dreaming,
   heads lifted
   and eyes half closed.

Hark, hear the night bird –
   how it sings in the tree.
   Across the sky moves the moon,
   holding the young boy by the hand.

Within the forge the gypsies cry,
   are crying out.
   The air watches over her, watches.
   The air is watching over her.