Two of La Presy's students, shining on their own, remember their friend and teacher
Published: January 9, 2013
Lara Bello and Patricia Guerrero aren't the only ones La Presy inspired, but they are the most high-profile fruits of La Presy's teachings. On March 31, 2012, New York-based singer-dancer-songwriter Bello released Primero amarillo, después malva (First Yellow, Then Purple), a flamenco-flavored Latin jazz-pop/World Music album with the Ojo Música label. The album (especially the title song) is dedicated to La Presy, whom Bello studied under since the late 1990s.
Twenty-four-year-old Patricia Guerrero, first dancer with the Ballet Flamenco Andaluz, is one of Spain's top young flamenco dancers. She met La Presy when she was still a small child (go to sacurrent.com to see a video of La Presy and then-8-year-old Guerrero). They were both eager to talk about their friend and teacher.
Bello spoke from New York and Budapest, Hungary; Guerrero sent her answers via email from Seville, Spain.
"I went to her class and I started getting hooked," laughs Bello. "She was a great motivator and I stayed with her for years and years."
When she saw that La Presy had a serious, no-nonsense approach to the art, she knew she was at the right place. With time, she understood where La Presy's edge came from.
"I think her hard side started when she tried to enter the flamenco world," said Bello. "It's a tough, very private world, closed to strangers. She had to wear a mask as defense. But once she knew you were not an enemy, she would reveal a very, very sensitive person." I ask her whether my fascination with La Presy is exaggerated, the product of a sentimental view on my part. How important, really, was La Presy in Granada?
"What she did was fantastic," Bello said. "It's not a common thing. Yes, you now see more people from other countries establishing themselves in Granada, but La Presy did it when it was much more difficult. And she went straight to dance at the tablados from the very beginning, among lifelong, well-established dancers and singers. She was part of that inner circle."
But La Presy taught Bello a lot more than just dancing — she taught her the dangers of a middle-of-the-road approach to life.
"I learned a lot from her, but perhaps the most important thing was to avoid doing things half-heartedly," said Bello. "She'd tell me, 'Every time you make a step, make it firm. If you have a misstep, at least have your foot firmly planted.' In other words: Whenever you do something, do it with all your heart and energy. Thanks to her, I apply that drive in everything I do."
The title of Bello's album refers to the way the flowers outside of La Presy's studio would change colors with the seasons. When she wasn't traveling, Bello would walk from her house to La Presy's cueva and take classes with her for two months.
"That image of the flowers stayed in my mind," said Bello. "This album is dedicated to La Presy and those roads we took to study with her in the last Spring. I cherish those happy moments inside of me, and they travel with me wherever I go."
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