Photographs and Commentary by Debra Jan Bibel

Music: Bulería [Flamenco de la Frontera / Paco del Gastor/ Nimbus: 3 min excerpt] From  Morón de la Frontera

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We now proceeded to the heart of flamenco, Jerez de la Frontera, home of many distinguished families of musicians, such as the kin of Agujetas el Viejo and of Parrilla de Jerez and Tio Parrilla, including cantaor Terremoto de Jerez and his son Fernando Terremoto.  Our hotel was Avenida Jerez and was different in having a balcony, a nice feature for hot evenings. Jerez is renown for flamenco, horses, and sherry. We would encounter all.  First was another concert by Yuval and gypsy musicians at Sala Compañía, a theatre. Now practiced, the dancers of the first half of the performance were splendid, though the second half of the concert lacked the energy of the more intimate presentation in the nightclub of Sevilla.



The palms indicate that this is a Mediterranean  region.

The café was busy and noisy throughout the night. The poster. The theatre. The stage is set. The calm before the flurry of song and dance.

The Middle Eastern side.

The flamenco side.

Mhijea in costume #1.

Carmen Almador joins.

Costume #2.


The butterfly effect. Costume #3. Yuval and José. Maya Haddi in action. A palmero does a dance. Carmen does her own dance.
The concert ends with acclaim. Yuval bows to applause.        

Statue of Lola Flores Detail of statue of the singer. Old city wall. Fortress. Once a minaret.

Nice blue steeple


Viewing ornamentation.

Detail view. The array of arches and columns. Gothic vault.

Architectural metaphor: light from heaven.


The choir's organ 

Church Associations' street work for Corpus Christi.

Another Association's construction. Large  colored salt crystals here. More and more.  
    It is Spain: ride el  toro. Everyone likes a carousel.    

Sherry was next on the agenda. My father once drank Dry Sack, and as I child I was impressed with the trademark burlap bag that packed the medium dry sherry. We visited the bodega that produces that product and many more sherries: [Alexander] Williams & [Arthur] Humbert, founded in 1877 by Englishmen. The company is now owned by a Spanish company. The huge wine-aging warehouse, with its thick aromatic atmosphere of wood and sherry; the front pond for resident ducks, geese, and swans; the horse stables [horses are for entertainment; they prance within the cool warehouse]; the large, attractive tasting room; and the tempting company shop were impressive and surprising, but there was something even more astonishing, whose images you must see below. I was partial to the drier sherries but I took home a bottle of Crema de Alba, a better than Bailey-like liqueur, which is hardly dry ...  but delicious.

The Bodga's sign. VIP casks: signed. George! John!! Paul!!! Ringo!!!!
Wonderful aroma of wood and sherry. The ground is washed down twice a day for humidity. A lesson on sherry. A lesson applied. A good time had by all. Norik seranade.
The Man and His Cask. Kindred spirits. Adding the date. This is the offical image. Yep, looks good. Tools of the trade.
Shoes to stomp grapes. Barrel planes. Museum display. The bodega has stables. Oscar and friend.  

Before visiting a  famous flamenco club, the group was given lessons in flamenco hand gestures, elementary dance moves, and clapping—palmas. Simple lessons. Only a few talented dancers managed to get into the swing of things, others, like me, klutzed, but we all gained an appreciation, albeit seriously limited, of the complex and difficult art of flamenco dance. Our eyes were now trained for when we watch the professionals. Our teachers were José Caraoscura and Mhijea.

José instructs. We listen. We learn. We try. Mhijea shows how. Follow the leader.
The few, the proud, the dancers. El Lagá: Tio Parrilla de Jerez club. Parrilla de Jerez,:
Manuel Fernández Molina
Juan Parrilla poster. At the bar. Settling in.
The long table. Another view of the club. Attractive decor: flamenco lives here. A view toward the back. A peak at the Archeological Museum La familia Parrilla and others.

What ensued for me, and to a large extent others in the group, was magic. We would witness and, at least for me, experience the deep spirit of flamenco, duende, conveyed by the dancers, the finest I have encountered in my musical life. This was beyond the well-polished high quality seen in concerts of touring artists, even those who have earned awards.  These were long, even timeless, dances. The male dancer, José de los Reyes, was sheer energy and boldness: he reminded me of an electronic capacitor charging as he stood listening to the music in deep concentration and then rapidly discharging in a flurry of eye-popping improvisational, highly inventive steps; a final contorted shake-off was as if he was removing residual electrostatic charge to reset for the next dance.  [I told you that I was a scientist!] We watched mesmerized. For me, however, it was the younger woman dancer in red,
Jemma Parrilla, whose grace, power, intensity, flow, improvisations, and embodiment of the music penetrated my marrow. I empathically felt her duende. I was absorbed such that ego dissolved, if but a moment. The body reacted to this aesthetic bliss with a flood of tears. [The body-mind knows! Such an alternative state is not a high level of transcendence—entirely different categories of being; it was, however, the conveyed integral perception of  unobstructed Tao, the way water flows down a hillside.] This evening in Jerez was the highlight among many joyous and constructive interactions and events of my Andalusian adventure, such as the forthcoming musical jam in a cave and having dinner at a gypsy home with spontaneous music and dance, a juerga, echoing the movie Lotcho Drom. It still leaves me breathless.

The music begins, Juan on guitar, Juan Farjado, cantaor. Sophistication and elegance by both attire and dance form:
Ana Maria Blanco.
The dance of yang. The intensity. The troupe. Pas de deux.
Olé! Encore. A new dancer, a new dance. Passion.

Into the heart.

This says it all.


A dance from an elder. Walking back in exhale.  

Appendix: Food

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On to Sevilla