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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."

Photo: , License: N/A

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

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What La Presy learned in San Antonio was good enough to dance with Ciro and then impress Manolete in Granada. Then, she absorbed everything she could from the gypsies and became an institution herself, single-handedly destroying the only-in-Andalusia myth. And that was the biggest eye-opening experience Bello had with La Presy.

"She had students from all over the world, and [us Spaniards] were a little bit prejudiced about it," said Bello. "Early on we didn't think foreigners could do it. But with La Presy I learned that that's a complete lie. At La Presy's classes I met wonderful dancers from many countries and, when I started traveling, I confirmed it. But it was La Presy who opened my eyes: art belongs to everyone."

La Presy knowingly made her dancers better and unknowingly made San Antonio flamenco proud. Teresa considered La Presy one of her star students and credits her with returning encouragement at a bad time. When her son, 24-year-old Willie Champion Jr. died in a hit-and-run accident in 1983, Teresa was overcome by grief and stopped dancing for a year. When La Presy, already in Spain, found out, she called her maestra.

"Why are you retiring?" La Presy asked. "They know me in Spain because of you. If you retire, you won't give anyone else the opportunity you gave me." Teresa snapped out of her depression and resumed her career. "I'm dancing because of La Presy, because she asked me to."

Without even trying, she validated every effort ever made by our local schools — here was a woman who learned her basics in San Antonio, and went on to teach the genre's inventors.

All she asked in return was credit, and one last family request: "Let Tony live in my house until he dies."

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