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Rediscovering La Presy, San Antonio's gift to flamenco



La Presy in Granada, the "Comanche Indian" that became a "Sacromonte gypsy."

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At El Poco Loco, mid-to-late 60s. El Curro is on guitar.

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Her classes were grueling. La Presy had no time for those who wanted to have an "extracurricular activity." She wanted serious (and good) dancers. Many left, intimidated by her demanding nature and fierce personality. If you were her dancer, she had no problem telling you exactly how you were supposed to do that step.

"I don't see too many virgins in here," she used to tell her students during any of her legendary class interruptions. "¡Tienes que mover las caderas como si te estuvieran comiendo el coño!" ("You have to move your hips as if someone was eating your pussy!")

"She was wild, lethal, but she was also very funny," said singer-songwriter-dancer Lara Bello, who studied under her since the late '90s. "She would find things in you other schools couldn't find, because she was fearless. She didn't care about what people may have thought of her — all she cared about was for you to learn that step, and was willing to say anything to make you understand."

Home is where the heart is

In 1998, when her mother got very sick, La Presy returned to San Antonio for a few weeks. She did a few workshops at Teresa Champion's studio (then located on Flores St.) and then, in 2000, Josie Champion (El Curro's sister) brought her back to do workshops 18 hours a week for at least three months.

"She gave an extraordinary workshop," said Carmen Linares "La Chiqui," one of SA's top flamenco instructors. "When Josie brought her I sent about 20 of my students. It was very strong."

"As a teacher myself, I was flabbergasted when I saw that workshop," said Jesús Moreno, who toured with La Presy when they were with the Ciro company in the early-to-mid '70s. "She was amazing. One thing is to teach, but to go from dancer in SA to teacher, and then teach Spaniards, that's something else." And yes, Moreno also praised La Presy's unique gift: "She had a photographic memory."

"I was giving her a way to make money before going back to Spain," Josie Champion said. "We fed her, we clothed her, put 15 pounds on her. She brought Spain to us and left me with enough flamenco material to last me for a lifetime."

Both Teresa and Josie Champion admit much of the choreographies they use to this day are La Presy's.

"Bringing her here was very special for me because she's one of my greatest influences," said Josie. "I learned flamenco with my family and my style reflects that. I love my family very much and Teresa means the world to me, but I do my own thing and my compases [plural for compás, or the intricate time signatures of flamenco], are all La Presy's. She's the one I looked up to and the one I wanted to be like."

Once back in Spain, La Presy kept busy. She taught at Carmen de las Cuevas for four years before finally opening her own school in 2000.

Going down

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