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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

How I’ve come out of near-depression through flamenco, almost

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

It’s hard to explain, but the lockdown and furlough situation certainly hit me. I’ve almost lost all my energy to socialise and face real people. Apart from occasional contacts with the family and a few others, my husband has been my best, and only, company. We went out, visiting some interesting events and places which I enjoyed, but I didn’t feel like starting conversations with people around me. Probably I lost certain confidence (if I’ve ever had such a thing) and a sense of comfort in a social situation.

Return to the Peña

When the Peña Flamenca de Londres announced the return of a live show on 22nd August, and even though it was me who shared the information on Facebook, I was reluctant to go there to suddenly immerse myself into a very communicative situation after being hidden in isolation.

In fact, I was avoiding local flamenco events which started prior to the Peña’s re-opening, and even turned down an offer to play the cajón in a show two weeks before, not finding enough motivation. Pre-lockdown I wouldn’t have said no. I’ve resumed dancing and playing on my own, like a zen practice, but I wasn’t even sure if I’d fit in the flamenco circle again.

At the same time, I knew that it’d be silly to cut bonds with the lovely people I’ve known through flamenco, who still generously invite me to perform or participate; in other words, who care for me.

To go back to the Peña, I needed my husband to accompany and support me. It was weird considering I used to hop between flamenco events without him. At our arrival in the venue I couldn’t help clinging onto his arm, feeling too shy and timid to talk to people I used to meet regularly. I was kind of embarrassed, and failed to greet them properly.

After seating at a table, my husband persuaded me to talk to them before the show started, otherwise they’d feel awkward (I did too). So… with his company I decided to be brave(?) and chat with the Peña committee members who treated me with unchanged kindness. After that, I felt more relaxed to speak to some more familiar faces.

After the show we also caught up with the artists Jorge Bravo, Juan Carlos Otero and Carolina Estevez. With a friendly feeling, all of them reminded me of how nice they’ve always been, as if lockdown never happened.

Remembering Sherrill and Spanish Dance

On 25th August, the sad news about Sherrill Wexler caught my attention. Feeling deeply shocked, I couldn’t help remembering how energetic, generous, kind-hearted and fun-loving she was.

(Sherrill and Fenella, November 2016)

Before her retirement, she was the European Administrator and Examinar of The Spanish Dance Society. To me and many others, she was the front lady at annual SDS summer courses in London, for which she invited many renowned dance teachers from Spain. Without her efficiency, communication skills and love for Spanish Dance, we couldn’t have benefited from such a wonderful gathering of teachers every year. I can still hear her voice saying ‘Don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets!’

Knowing her mostly as the Administrator, I was so impressed with how elegantly she danced, when she herself taught a Spanish Dance lesson in November 2016. As a lucky few who could take the class, I immediately fell in love with her style and even asked her if she’d still teach regularly, but she humbly dismissed it with a kind smile.

For those who knew her for a longer time must have more profound memories with her. To me, remembering Sherrill connects with remembering how fun the summer courses were, and how I’ve enjoyed the atmosphere and time spent with those fantastic teachers as well as friends, all thanks to Sherrill. Her lovely memory recalled enjoyment of flamenco and Spanish Dance.

Gemma has brought back flamenco summer

Our flamenco summer is finally back - Gemma de la Cruz has managed to travel back to London after the cancellation of her annual summer workshops last year. As well as her own classes, this time she invited her colleague and best friend, Carmela Romero, another fantastic flamenco dancer and teacher based in London, to teach Alegrías.

They both came to the Peña on 22nd and we enjoyed our brief catch-up during the interval. I felt energised after chatting with them who have always been kind, encouraging and inspirational.

After a few days passed, I now feel, possibly, my passion for flamenco is almost back - I’ll enjoy the classes by Gemma and Carmela this weekend, hoping that it’ll be another start.

Summer isn’t here yet - London Flamenco needs Gemma de la Cruz (23rd August 2020)


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