Flamenco Festival Day 2, Sombras, luz/light and learning

Huge stage with dancers and flaring skirts and men in black under corruscading lines of white and grey light

Sombras, Sara Baras. Photographer Santana de Yepes. No other information given.

To my delight I’ve been invited to the Sara Baras Premiere by TourEspana. After much heartache give up Thursday’s seat in row E because there’s not enough time to go twice (this is flamenco I *have* to be close). Can’t find the prescription cycling glasses that I use as a hairband and that (along with the white streak) people recognise me by. Tell my +1 that it’s nice to be able to sit and enjoy for myself, rather than watch to review, and watch the show entranced.

Oh my, the light! Yes, I know the show’s called sombras and yes, Sara Baras is a world leader both for her excellent stagecraft and her flawless faultless flamenco.  Even so, this is a surprise. I resolve to pitch on the creative process behind her lighting because I’ve seen nothing like it before.

I don’t remember a show where I’ve sat this far back before, and I find the lag between seeing and hearing and seeing the zapateo distressing, even while acknowledging that it’s good to experience what I knew in theory at least once. That said, if I was in row E I’d not be able to appreciate this amazingly wonderful light. I decide to take it as a learning experience. I try not to look at the footwork  – or the faces, because although they’re a vital aspect of flamenco they are too far away to see – and soak up the atmosphere instead.

I’ve wanted to be invited to an after-show flamenco event for years. However, when the show is over and I’m there, I realise that all my go-to people for post-show quotes are downstairs chatting or in the pub around the corner. Another learning experience. I meet some lovely new people too.

Hang around to give a lift home to Ron Hitchen. In the unlikely event you are a tap, swing, tango or flamenco dancer in Europe and don’t know him, he’s an authentic Dance Face. He danced 80 consecutive Sevillanas verses to celebrate his 80th birthday. His life history is a story in miniature of the development of dance over the last 80-odd years. He’s also 93 years old. I get home at 1am.

I wake up realising that 3 of the things I have let slip need doing so that other people can work. These have to be done before the first important task of my day. Heart drops and embarassment rises as I also realise that I forgot to call a friend about a commission two days ago. Work hard. On finishing a quick cafe lunch (no time for washing up) I remember I had planned to fast all day.

After a very confusing whatsapp conversation about photographing one of the stars I decide to bluster it out. Then I keep forgetting to confirm the shoot. I try calling the friend about the commission but she has either given up on me or is in labour (both equally possible) then pop out to buy my evening’s food. Gym workout? The walk to and from the supermarket is the entirety of my workout today. I realise my hoody is still in the supermarket as I reach my front door, so turn around in the heat to retrieve it.

I get home at 16.13 with at least 8 hours of work to do. Resolve to do half of it before sleeping. Get surprise commission from a total stranger. That is great because it is cash flow for November, but less great because of the amount of work I have to do to confirm it right now. I remind another client of a promise they made to respond to an email on Monday and accept I’m not going to get any real non-flamenco festival work done today.

Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival is like this every year. Oh yes and I’m managing the post chemo #chronicfatigue with caffeine and adrenaline and hope I don’t crash before I get to my holiday destination.


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