On the far right is Samantha, a young flamenco dancer visiting from Venezuela, her mom Valerie, her father Juan and grandmother Ginny. July 31, 2006 9:37pm
It's 11:05am on Tuesday as I type these words. Didn't get any good pics from the show last night, oh well. But at least I have a few of the wonderful people who came to see us perform.
I'm little groggy right now cuz I didn't get enough sleep the previous night. Thing is that I got a last minute call to give some school shows for Monday morning. Normally I'd sleep in relatively late (by 9-to-5 people's standards) but I had to get up at 7:30am, shower, get dressed etc, and transport myself, my guitar and sound system to a summer camp program at a school in Arlington.
You know me...with the many dancers I work with in the tablaos I usually have no time to rehearse, let alone finding out who the dancers will be until they walk onstage. So I'm mentally prepared to expect to wing it pretty much all the time. Such was the case yesterday morning (Monday).
The first school show was scheduled to begin at 9:30am. I arrived, checked out the performance space and had the sound setup by 9:15am but still no dancer. By now the classroom was filling up with 40 or so elementary school age students. Very well behaved and already giving me that innocent look in their eyes as if to say, "OK, mister, what are you going to teach us?"
I was already going over a worst case scenario: what to do if the dancer does not arrive. How will I fill-up my alloted presentation time and keep the attention of young children for the full duration? I consulted one of the teachers who was the resident guitar teacher and he gave me the run-down of what the students know about the guitar and music in general and what to focus on. Nice!
Miguelito, Berdan Ozbey, Asha Aysegul Ozbey, Yildiz Ozbey and Christopher Kobar. July 31, 2006 9:57pm
At about show time, the dancer arrived which meant we'd have to wait another five minutes or so while she quickly changed into costume. In her defense, it's always a little disorienting to arrive at a large school building, not knowing which entrance to use, finding many doors locked and wandering the labrynthine network of hallways to find the way to the main office.
This was summer camp, so the overall attitude of the staff was laid back. Our presentation was meant to educate and to entertain with an emphasis on the latter.
Danielle and Jason Vera y Aragón. July 31, 2006 10:43pm
We opened up with a fandangos de Huelva so we could demonstrate the use of the castanets. Kids love castanets! I admit I did flub a couple of notes because I was going over my presentation as I played the guitar--bad, bad, bad!
Then it finally dawned on me how I'd enlighten these children about one of the cool concepts about flamenco: that the dancer leads the guitarist. Since this was a music camp, I assumed that these kids were being classically trained and learning about reading standard music notation.
So I asked the group, "How many of you play the guitar?" and nearly everyone's hand went up.
"OK, now how many of you know how to read music?" and more or less the same number of hands went up.
"In flamenco, we guitarists never have music stands in front of us, but still we 'read' something else to know what notes to play on the guitar. Can anyone tell me what that is?" This time only a scant few hands went up and I randomly chose the first person who caught me eye.
"The dancer," a young girl said.
"That's right! Let's give her a hand.
Then we went on to demonstrate a bulerías where the dancer would perform an unpredetermined number of compases and end with a llamada to demonstrate this concept.
Preeta, Sarika, Miguelito and Monica. July 31, 2006 10:51pm
I'm not going to talk about our whole presentation, but you get the idea. We repeated the presentation at two other schools and were done by 1:00pm. I was so ready to go back to bed, which I did. Woke up at 5:00pm, took a cold shower to wake up, got dressed and made it to Citron to setup the sound and lights.
Aseel, Miguelito and Rae. July 31, 2006 11:58pm
What was annoying was that this couple decided to sit on the couch where I normally setup my sound system. But I couldn't tell a paying customer to leave. So I just took a leisurely walk around Dupont and I was hungry anyway so i got myself an early dinner of kubideh kabob at Moby Dick, yum!
Turned out that the couple didn't leave until 10 minutes before showtime, grrrr, so I didn't get the stage setup when I wanted to. So many cables and buttons and other details to be mindful of and it certainly doesn't help when you're rushed. So I didn't get the sound setup the way I wanted to which was kinda annoying but when it came time for the show, I just had to let it go and devote my emotional energy to the performance.
A number of people in the audience contacted me a few days earlier to tell me they were coming for the show. I always love having friends in the audience. Among them were Samantha, a flamenco dancer from Venezuela (performing at a tablao in Caracas called El Jaleo in El Hatillo) and her family, Chris Kobar and his girlfriend Asha and family, and of course my good friends Sarika, Preeta, Monica and Neha.
Overall it was a good night, but by the time I arrived home (around 1:30am), I went straight to bed and quickly fell asleep.
For tonight, I actually know who the dancers will be: Dana Shoenberg and Sarah Hart. See you there!