Save the Dates! 2021 HV Flamenco Festival August 14th & 15th.
I am so pleased to announce the venues for the 2021 HV Flamenco Festival. This year we are co-producing with the Vanaver Caravan. Through this collaboration we are able to bring you THREE performances this year. Each one is specially curated to support the mission of the HV Flamenco Festival; to explore how flamenco can act as a healing and unifying force in our communities.
Andreas Arnold, guitarist extraordinaire will be joining us from Cadiz, Spain.Here is a video of Andreas playing a piece from his latest album. On Saturday, August 14th at 6pm, Andreas will be performing for us at the outdoor stage at Unison Arts. Mario Rincon will be singing with him. Bring your masks, blankets and chairs and a picnic and spend the evening being immersed in the magic of live music.
Saturday morning, August 14th at 11:30am will find us in Newburgh at the Green at Safe Harbors. The Awesome Foundation gave us a grant to offer a free performance in Newburgh. This will be a shorter, vibrant opening for the HV Flamenco Festival with dance and music.
On Sunday evening at 6pm at the gorgeous Whitecliff Vineyards in Gardiner, NY our full company will make the Ridge echo with the strains of flamenco song and the driving rhythms of dance. Bring chairs or blankets and a picnic meal. You can sip local wines and allow us to transport you to a sun-baked, jasmine scented plaza in Andalusia.
Tickets will be sold on the Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival website starting June 20th.As always, your support is what keeps the HVFF going and I want to express my gratitude for remembering the HV Flamenco Festival.
This month, Mario Rincon, our cantaor (singer) of many talents is building a portable stage. Because we are bringing you a Covid-safe outdoor festival, a portable stage is a necessary addition to our company. Please consider donating a small amount to offset the costs of building our stage. DONATE
Please read the latest blog post that talks about how flamenco works as a system and can be a metaphor for how we exist in our communities. ANNA LIBRADA
My faerie mother didn’t want me. She gave me my name, Bimi Lightfoot, and then she gave me away. Who was she? I was wondering about her again, hiding from my stepfather under an overturned rowboat. The boat’s drying wood smelled warm and fishy. I dug up some sand crabs and made a little house for them out of shells and driftwood. The crunch of footsteps in the sand made me look up.
Right next to the boat.
No one in Karakesh wore fancy yellow boots.
Yellow boots pounded on the boat.
“Bimi Lightfoot! I know you’re under there! Come out and greet your cousin, Liri Flare!”
Cousin? Liri Flare?
This would be the faerie cousin who gave me to Demara, my so-called sister, when I was a baby. Demara was only thirteen years old back then, so she handed me off to her mother, Lunila, like I was a sour pear or a rotten potato.
“Come out, I say!”
I stuck my head out. He was all yellow. His clothes were yellow, and so was his hair. Even his skin was pale yellow.
“All the way, you scamp!” said the Yellow Boots.
I crawled out.
He swept off his pointed yellow hat.
“Liri Flare, faerie extraordinaire,” he said. He had a big smile, like my sister’s father, Simead Nair. Simead Nair was a selkie, a seal person. Selkies are a kind of faerie. Maybe all faeries had big smiles with big white teeth.
I knew Liri Flare was the faerie that had given me to Demara. But I didn’t know much about anything else. I’d never gone beyond Karakesh Village. The family wouldn’t let me.
“You can’t go anywhere until you learn to behave,” said Lunila.
Lunila was my so-called mother in this family. Earlier this morning, when I was down on the beach, I’d heard her calling me.
“Bimi Lightfoot! You bad boy! You get back here!”
She was standing on the cottage porch. I pretended I didn’t hear her. She’s not my real mother, so I didn’t have to do what she said. I kept walking down the beach toward the sea caves.
Anyone could see that I didn’t belong in this family. They all had skin the color of dark honey. I was so pale that you could see my veins. Sometimes my skin looked light green, like the inside of a grass stem. My real family–my faerie family–lived at Hawk Hill, in the woods and in the mounds. Faeries.
“Stand up and let me look at you!” Liri Flare commanded.
He sounded like my stepfather, Gerran. Always telling me what to do, and how to behave. Behaving was boring.
But now here was a yellow cousin in yellow boots. Suddenly things weren’t boring anymore.
Liri Flare sweeps Bimi up into the sky on a mission to steal a horse. Once away from his adoptive family, Bimi sets out to find his mother and learn the truth about his father. He gets help from some of the magical folk of Karakesh, but other encounters are downright life-threatening. Does Bimi find what he seeks on his quest?
Growing Magic will be available soon from Handersen Publishing and Amazon books. In the meantime, catch up with the adventures of Agatha, Malcolm, Sada, Rami, and Demara in the first four books of the Karakesh Chronicles.
(This piece of writing comes from 2007, during my days of teaching English as a New Language (ENL–once called ESL). Working with these children and their families was my delight and good fortune.)
On the second-to-last day of school, I give my English Language Learners (ELLs) in first grade a farewell party. We have mini-muffins and fresh strawberries. For Anton, I bring a peach pie.
“I never taste pie,” he said a few weeks ago when the word came up in our lesson. “What pie?”
We told him it was made with fruit and a crust. He didn’t forget about the pie. When I told the first graders we’d be having a last day party Anton perked up.
“You bling pie for we eat?” he asked me. Along with ESL classes, Anton is getting help from the speech teacher for his articulation.
“OK, but I probably won’t bake it myself,” I said. At the end of the school year, I am weary, as well as inundated with paperwork. I know for sure that homemade pie is not going to fit into my schedule.
On Thursday, Pie Party Day, I give the students some free time to play games or draw. Our daily classes are usually crammed with lessons; there’s so much to learn about speaking, listening, reading and writing in English. On this day, I kick back and have relaxed conversations with my kids.
I call them “my kids.” You would probably call them my students. Most of them I’ve known for two years, and one has been with me for three years. In any child, the change from a frightened five-year-old entering kindergarten to a cocky seven-year-old heading into second grade is astounding. But my kids—my kids—make enormous changes. To me, this metamorphosis is as miraculous as whatever goes on inside a chrysalis. Only I get to see it happen in a way that regular classroom teachers don’t, because my job is truly special.
I’m a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) and my skinny classroom that was once a storage closet is a safe haven for many bewildered, anxious children, children like my Leticia. Three years ago, when she trustingly took my hand and walked with me to our ESL classroom, Leticia was tiny, even for a kindergartener. She spoke no English at all and had not attended preschool. She spent her first five years in the constant company of her mother and loving relatives, none of whom spoke English. I remember being struck by the great courage of this small person. How very brave to spend hours every day in a place where no one speaks your language, where there is not one familiar face.
Today Leticia is a leggy, confident first grader who reads well and converses fluently in English. Many songs and language games later, here she is, able to move back and forth between two languages. How many adult Americans can do that?
As we eat our muffins and pie, I ask what everyone is doing for the summer. Anton speaks first. “I go to Uklaine.” He bounces with happiness and his straight, blond bowl cut hair bounces with him. “I go see my glandma and glandpa.”
Alberto of the bright, mischievous chipmunk eyes tells us he is going to Mexico. “I’m going to my uncle house in Puebla. He take care of my dog.”
Kenny, whose glasses are always slightly askew, is going to visit his Filipino cousins in California as soon as school lets out. “We’re going to eat crab at the beach! I love crab!”
I can’t believe I won’t see my kids again in September. They will be new second graders, learning the layout of a new school. I’m worried about them. How will they manage the tougher curriculum? Will their new teachers help them with unfamiliar vocabulary and explain science concepts?
In our ESL classroom, we have a photo album full of pictures of our school year. There’s Noodle Day when we ate with chopsticks while practicing restaurant vocabulary and ordering from a menu. There’s Rice Day when we researched and wrote a book about rice. There are pictures of the kindergarteners dressing for the weather in my family’s oversized raincoats and snow boots. There’s Rani, with her birthday crown; showing her gap-tooth smile. She’ll have her grown-up teeth by September.
On the last day of school, it is tradition for all the teachers to gather on the grassy bank by the bus parking lot. We wave goodbye to the students as they leave for the summer. In my seventeen years of teaching second grade, I always felt a sense of relief as the buses honked and pulled out on to the road. During the ten months of school, I usually enjoyed my students, but I wasn’t sad to say goodbye until I started teaching ESL. This year I am already missing my kids. This year I see those beautiful children’s faces pressed against the school bus windows and my eyes fill with tears.
The labyrinth at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, N.Y. is not listed on the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator site. I found out about it because one of my writer friends is a monk who lives there. “Oh,” he said after I mentioned my labyrinth quest in our writing workshop, “Holy Cross has a labyrinth.” So on a hot and humid afternoon, my husband and I hopped into the air-conditioned car and went exploring.
My GPS sent us on a picturesque but indirect route to the wrong part of Route 9W. We backtracked a little on 9W and eventually found Holy Cross’s curving drive that led to a large parking lot. When I slowed down to reconnoiter, I recognized the familiar pattern of stones set in the lawn on the far side of the parking lot.
The Holy Cross labyrinth is an eight-circuit medieval style labyrinth.
There’s a small cairn marking the entrance and another in the center.
The stones that form the circles are larger than those of any other labyrinth we’ve seen. Most of the rocks were the size of a football (American) or larger. There appeared to be weed-blocking cloth under the whole labyrinth, but the grasses and weeds had grown through. They formed a pleasant, cushy walking path.
I picked out an attractive stone of gray and white to mark my passage, and started off on the path, repeating the comforting mantra, “All is God. All is well.” In the center, I placed my stone on the top of the cairn, adding it to several already there.
We saw nobody during our visit. A small, barn-red house beyond the labyrinth appeared to be occupied, maybe by a groundskeeper. Opposite the labyrinth was a stone path leading to the imposing monastery itself.
We paused to appreciate the trees and the quiet, and then we left. I believe no one knew we had come.
The Lifebridge Sanctuary in High Falls, N.Y. holds a special place in my heart because my daughter had her wedding there more than a decade ago. She got married at the end of January, so the scenery was quite different than what we saw this June when we went to check out the labyrinth.
Lifebridge rests in a mountain setting. It serves as a retreat site and hosts other events, too, such as weddings. The labyrinth is indicated by a small sign. It is a classical or Cretan style labyrinth, made with stones that were collected by the builders (see the explanation in the photo).
The weather was perfect: cool and sunny with just the right amount of breeze. Except for the wind, the hillside was silent. We walked the path, but I had trouble discerning the center. This design is not my favorite.
I prefer the Chartres style with the six-petaled rose in the center. It has more mystery and destination, and it offers more space in which to stand.
However, once we’d completed the labyrinth, we sat on a bench and soaked up the peace. I wanted to stay there for hours, basking in the pleasance and beauty, but it was Sunday and Lifebridge was closing. This labyrinth is in such a lovely location that it rivals the richness and peace of the labyrinth at St. James in Hyde Park.