A flamenco fairy tale

At the beginning of 2020, life across planet Earth has been taken over by one common topic: coronavirus. While the world searches for a solution and gets its head around a potentially new way of living, let me recommend you some entertainment.

Reading is a wonderful way to entertain ourselves and each other, and can do magic while you are locked inside your house, perhaps even self-isolating… especially if you have children around you!

Flamenco is first and foremost associated with music and dance, and there is nothing wrong with that. For most of us, flamenco means a concert in a theatre or on a festival, an album that we listen to at home or during our daily commute, a celebration at a birthday or christening. There are only very few lucky ones in today’s day and age, who can call their life style ‘flamenco‘. But a couple of years ago I discovered a new channel of flamenco. Browsing on social media, I have come across Leonor Leal talking about her new book. Leonor is a flamenco dancer – she dances regularly with the pianist David Dorantes and our friend the percussionist Javi Ruibal – so it took me by surprise reading about her book. I have never heard about any flamenco dancer who would have written a book. Not only was she the only flamenco dancer I have ever known with short hair, she has also written a book?! This started to become really interesting, so I asked my in-laws to get the book.

“Catalina sin pamplinas” is the Spanish title. ‘Catalina without fuss’ I would say in English. The book is about a girl, Catalina, who loved to dance. When she decided to create her dance company, she asked her locals to join: Manuel, the fisherman from the local market became the singer, Sebastián, the waiter became the clapper and Juan Tomás, the “romantic” became the guitarist.

In preparation for their world tour, Catalina packed her huge suitcase: she packed her dresses and a variety of accessories like flowers and clips in her hair, earrings, tights and her dance shoes, and off they went. Not knowing the challenges they were about to face…

First, they travelled to Russia, where the spots on Catalina’s dress were so cold, they decided to return home, leaving Catalina very sad. That night she danced with such sorrow that left the public astounded and she was rewarded with warm applause and hugs.

Next, they travelled to Australia, where the strong wind blew her flowers away, leaving Catalina really annoyed. That night she danced angry, and the audience was amazed by her strength and temperament.

Then they travelled to India, where she made friends with a few local girls. Catalina and the girls quickly realised that their dances were very similar, and decided to perform together that night, sharing Catalina’s earrings and clips.

At last, they returned to Spain, where a very important performance was waiting for Catalina, but she found her suitcase almost empty. She didn’t have her flowers, her clips, her tights, because she left them all around the world. So she decided to dance without any accessories. She didn’t even put her shoes on, because her big toe hurt so much. However, her dance was filled with everything she brought home from her journey: her movements had the warm hugs of Russia, her footwork was as impressive as the Australian waves, and her arms danced with the beauty of India.

The audience was impressed. They realised Catalina didn’t need anything to dance, and from now on, they called her Catalina without fuss.  The end.

The story (of Leonor Leal) is cute, the illustration (of Raúl Guridi) is beautiful, and the lesson learned for children is thoughtful.

We don’t really need anything to do well, it all comes from within, we just need to believe in ourselves!

Big thank you to Leonor Leal for bringing flamenco to the children yet via another channel.

And also congratulations! It is wonderful to see that a true artist is not limited to one form of art. Her contribution to both dance and literature is worth knowing!

The good news is that she keeps writing and her new children’s book, titled “Bailar” (‘Dance’) has recently been published. I have already asked my in-laws to get it!

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