It’s good to be back in Jerez once again, especially at Festival time. The sun is shining and the whole town is buzzing! The Twentieth Festival de Jerez is underway, inaugurated, last weekend, by Eva Yerbabuena in the Teatro Villamarta and David Lagos in the Sala Compania, both to rave reviews. Music is in the air, where ever you go.
There are a lot of additional events this year, short recitals in local churches – we are going to one such in the Convento San Agustin ( a newly restored seventeenth century building ) this evening. These short concerts include big names, in this case Mercedes Ruiz, David Lagos and Santiago Lara, with Debora de la Fuente on cello. We’re looking forward to that and plan, later, to take a tour of the flamenco bars and penas, the local flamenco clubs which open their doors to the public during festival time. An ideal Saturday night, though best watch the sherry consumption, that particular amber nectar slips down all too easily. I have a reason, other than proper sobriety, to stay alert, I’ll be trying to capture the performances on video to share via The Story Bazaar.
The Tabancos feature more prominently this year than formerly and this is being billed, a la Broadway, as ‘Off festival’. Tabanco El Pasaje, one of the most authentic, has over thirty performances during this year’s event. There is a lot to see in the daytime too and not just flamenco performances, but art exhibitions such as ‘Arte Jondo, con tinta china’ by artist David Vaamonde.
The far east is something of a theme this year, not only in the visual arts, but in the flamenco itself. There is the first appearance of a male Japanese flamenco dancer at the Festival ( see Preview ). Flamenco is very big in Japan and companies of dancers have appeared here before, but not a leading dancer. It seems that there are even more Japanese than usual in town, come to support their compatriot in the city of flamenco.
Cooking and gastronomy also feature this year. For the first time there is Flamencook and a ruta enogastronomica around the town for flamenco inspired tapas. All the bars and restaurants are full to bursting, reservations are very necessary. Nonetheless, we plan to visit all our old favourites as well as any new ones we can find. And to indulge in a favourite festival experience, breakfast, or at least coffee and buns, in a beautiful, sunny square reading the Diario reviews of the performances which we went to see the night before. Perfect.
Tomorrow we are off to the Teatro for ‘Reversible‘, the stage show of Manuel Linan, ( see left ) the remarkable dancer who we saw for the first time last year with David Carpio. This year he has a company of his own and it promises to be a highlight, the Teatro was sold out weeks ago. I will be posting a review of this, and of the convent recital, later in the festival, as well as reporting on other events. In particular, we will keep a look-out for any flamenco flash-mobs and go dancing in the streets. Watch this space.