The wonderful Manuel Liñán
My daughter asked me ‘why are you coming to London to do flamenco classes when you can do them every day in Jerez?’ That’s true I can, but the one thing about the teachers in Jerez is that a lot of them aren’t here very much. When I arrived last year, one of my favourite teachers, Mercedes Ruiz was in St Petersburg, Russia. Andres Peña and his wife Pilar Ogalla are dancing at the Flamenco festival in Nimes in France at the moment and my teacher Maria del Mar Moreno goes to Bordeaux, Paris and Milan to teach whilst the school Flamenco Puro in Jerez is in the hands of her sister in law, Irène Olivares (who is, by the way an excellent teacher).
So you have to catch the top dancers and teachers as they flit past you! SInce I am invariably in the UK for Christmas it seemed crazy not to stay on and go to the Escuela de Baile Christmas course when Manuel Liñán was the top guest teacher. I attend the Centro de Baile here in Jerez run by Vicki Ramos who is Nuría’s sister – the founder of the Escuela in London. I attended Nuria’s classes on and off for years and although I didn’t actually start flamenco with her I did carry on just after I started learning flamenco because I was working in London during the week. I have attended most Christmas, Easter and Summer courses since 2000.
Now Manuel Liñán is very special. Watching him in his show Reversible last year at the Jerez Flamenco Festival was a revelation and indeed his show won the critic’s award at the 2016 Flamenco Festival here in Jerez and deservedly so. He dances in a bata de cola and mantón like no one else and his choreography is totally amazing. So I count myself really really fortunate to spend a week doing class with him. I spent a week with him last summer whilst he was teaching here and loved being back in class with Manuel. His Tientos in the advanced class was hard, but his tangos was terrific fun and full of the tricks he uses to catch an audience’s attention. I will be back for more, I hope.