From flamenco women in Seattle and beyond, I've solicited some reflections on the mix of art and mothering and work they've experienced in their world. I wanted these thoughts to remain accessible and constant on this blog and not get archived into blog-post history, so I have created a page just for these women. Here are their stories:
I first got involved with flamenco when I saw it as a college student in San Francisco in 1963. I had a background in bluegrass singing and Balkan dance. My first child was born in l967 after my first extended trip to Spain (1965-66). There are always logistical difficulties when combining child-rearing (I'm still choking on using "parent" as a verb.....) and the demands of being an artist.
I don't believe that my artistic commitments have affected our styles of child rearing; it's all just part of life and we've taken it all in stride. Almost all moments with our kids are favorites, since they're all so cool. No, bilingualism and multiculturalism are not really part of our family life; English is our medium of best rapport. Our kids have travelled and studied abroad and broadened their horizons in their own unique way. We found it unhelpful to impose any agenda of ours on them.
We did, however, take our oldest daughter all over Spain and on performing contracts in that country, as we travelled Spain extensively. It did affect our ability to remain in that country at a certain point when her educational needs reached a certain level. Having three of them
also pretty well dictated that we would remain local, rather than hit the road after 1982 when our last one was born. Choices have to be made and priorities addressed; we managed to not sacrifice either, but it hasn't been easy.
Flamenco has opened up some other possibilities for me in my life, most significantly teaching. While expecting my two younger ones, between 1979 and 1983, I attended Cal State LA to be credentialed as a bilingual teacher. My years in Spain as a flamenco student and then a professional gave me that fluency I needed, even after an academic minor in the subject (though as I mentioned, I had to clean the Gypsy curses out before teaching. I spent nearly two decades teaching in a private high school here in Seattle, and that anchored our family financially as Marcos was running the flamenco business.
Best flamenco moment? There have been many, including reaching a mystical state after several days at the feria de Sevilla of 1971, fuelled by coffee and cognac, and getting pulled up on stage at the Caseta de Alcala by la Fernanda de Utrera to dance bulerias. Another: watching Marcos accompany Paco de Lucia in the final rumba of a concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in L.A. Other great moments have occurred improvising with other professionals in a relaxed setting. Sometimes our best moments occur while rehearsing with Ana; little gems come out. It's hard to bring that level of relaxation to the stage, though!
If you would like to share your story as well, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from old and new friends all across the world.