Yumi La Blanca
‘Flamenco Street’ Around the Corner
Two-way to Three-way
In July 2017, I didn’t know what our group was called, until a few seconds before I was just about to dance Alegrias. We were already on stage and I was in a full-gear as a flamenco dancer. Our singer, Jesús, introduced ourselves to the audience in his well-projected voice: ‘Hello, we’re ‘Flamenco Street...’
It actually started as a duo of Jesús Chavero, the singer, and Brendan Larvor, the guitarist, much before July 2017. While Brendan was a familiar face as a fellow flamenco enthusiast, I didn’t know Jesús until when he spotted me dancing Sevillanas with a friend at the Feria in the Peña Flamenca de Londres (I suppose in 2016). He excitedly asked me to dance with him next. This didn’t end as one-off: we’ve danced Sevillanas together in several gigs until now.
Though I don’t remember exactly when, sometime in 2016 or 2017, Brendan and Jesús invited me to play the cajon for them. Since then, we started to meet up almost once a week (quite irregularly), whether we have upcoming shows or not. ‘A duo plus a guest’ turned to a trio.
Street extended, then temporary closed
We’ve performed in several venues and festivals in London. We especially appreciate Danielle Allan, a London-based flamenco teacher, for kindly offering us performing opportunities at her diverse projects. We’ve learned a lot from her organisation skills and her affection towards flamenco.
Among other shows, the most memorable one for me was the fundraising party for ‘FesTeLõn’ (Festival of Spanish Theatre of London) in July 2019. Both the host and the guests responded very enthusiastically to our performance, and they even invited us to see some of their official theatre showcases. We were so grateful for their generosity and open-mindedness.
It was all before the pandemic, then everything changed. ‘FesTeLõn’ isn't happening this year, we were self-isolating. ‘No entry’ to Flamenco Street until further notice...
In Summer, the lockdown was loosened. Although Flamenco Street has a name sounding to suit outdoors, we failed to take advantage of the warm weather and play outdoors. When we could finally catch up on 1st September, the temperature of London had already dropped. We agreed to gather at Jesús’ new, cosy home instead.
In order to play by the social distancing rules, we made sure to wear face masks. Poor Jesús found it difficult to take a deep breath underneath the mask, but his voice was still amazingly well-projected. Brendan said he expanded his knowledge by learning from Angus Cruickshank, one of the best-known flamenco guitarists in London, during the lockdown. As for me, I enjoyed playing with them again, becoming a part of the compás.
Overall, it was a good rehab-rehearsal. We weren’t so tremendously rusty, maybe only a bit…
Hoping for when we hit the streets
As of September 2020, most cultural sectors are still in a fallow period. It’s quite vague how flamenco, especially when it involves singing, can be safely done under the new health and safety regulations.
The same applies to the theatres, including FesTeLõn who generously hosted us last year. Although they had to procrastinate their annual festival to autumn 2021, we sincerely hope that they’ll remain strong. Whether flamenco or not, we’re both passionate for Spanish culture to flourish in London. That’s right up our street.
FesTeLõn - Festival of Spanish Theatre of London (there is a donate button on the front page)