Yay I did it!
The fin de curso zambomba for Carmen Herrera’s school at the Peña La Bulerias was fun. I thought I would have to go back to the UK beforehand for my mother’s funeral, but it turns out I was there and as a pupil I was slated to take my turn – eek! This is the home of Bulerias – Barrio San Miguel where it was invented. I have had the honour to be practising – yes practising – with José Mijita from one of the very famous flamenco families. I have been listening to their CD’s (along with others) so that I can absorb the rhythm. I haven’t been hearing it all my life even in the womb and it shows! The dance looks deceptively simple, but it isn’t. Bulerias means joke and in effect it is a game between the singer and the dancer. The singer rules, so the dancer has to listen to what the singer is doing and dance accordingly. You can’t do a rematé in the wrong place and you HAVE HAVE HAVE to keep to compás. It is very easy to lose yourself and in effect although you can have a sort of choreography up your sleeve you have to extemporise picking out a menu of steps and the steps have to go in a certain order – paso de bulerias before a llamada for example. It is very easy to do too many of a step and then get ‘out of compas’. If you get it right then you get an olé. Oh yes and you do it on your own in the middle of a circle where everyone else knows what they and you are doing. It is terrifying and only those natives don’t have nerves (and even some of them admit to getting nervous as they stand up to walk forward to signal that they are dancing next).
Well heart beating as I stood up and slowly walked forward into the middle in front of a room full of Jerez natives who lived, ate, slept and breathed bulerias. I did it and Carmen knew what it meant and how the week before I had fluffed it every time. I have learned my enganches (the joins) I have learned where to come in and start dancing. I have learned to keep it short and sweet and not ‘outstay my welcome’. I have most importantly learned to have fun and enjoy myself. Olé.
PS At my first lesson back after Christmas Carmen told me that people had said that I had danced well. Wow!
PPS Next week I have 5 days every morning of doing Bulerías with José Mijitas. That will certainly give me a big boost! Carmen says normally people transform in confidence afterwards. Olé!