Colleges and University concert dates and lecture-demonstrations during the 1960’s
Following the return to the West Coast after almost five years away from Los Angeles, I had time to sort out what was gained from my experience. I had to take stock of my knowledge in these forms of dance expression and artistic import.
Having exposed the material to audiences in Europe and the East Coast it was time to explore a new environment and public.
Soon concert and lecture dates were lined up and over a period of seven years I toured all over the Los Angeles area covering about 35 Universities and Colleges including UCLA. The reception was mostly favorable and resulted in some much needed income.
There was a noted difference from the East Coast and New York area, or in England where I found a more serious approach to learning. Here the interest appeared to be in the entertainment value rather than the intellectual content of the explanation of Flamenco. The programs consisted of my speaking and a demonstration of parts of dances to illustrate structure.
I never used notes and with my excellent memory I could move from a dance figure to a comment seamlessly and avoid pedantry. The scripts consisted of many pages. Constant changes and revisions were made, but I took it in stride.
One incident is worth mentioning to show how an audience can be influenced by a pre-conceived idea.
I had a booking at the Los Angeles Trade Tech College in Los Angeles, a school primarily designed to prepare young men for the Trades rather than the professions. A date was set for the morning hours. With a guitarist for accompaniment and in full costume, I usually performed for an hour. In this case, Eugenio Cordero accompanied me on guitar. He was from Vera Cruz, had trained with Jeronimo Villarino, dean of all Flamenco guitarists in the Los Angeles area. He was very competent and had a good singing voice.
My custom was to open the program with a dance initially to present myself and begin the talk and explanation. As I danced, the auditorium which was packed with young men immediately greeted me with whistles and vocal shouts as if in response to an attractive young woman whom they assumed was just there to entertain. As I danced I mentally thought that this would be a circus if I did not try to take charge of the situation.
The end of the dance “Alegrias” was applauded and greeted with much male enthusiasm. I understood the reaction to be normal and understandable as good fun.
When the applause finished, I stood quietly and thanked them, introduced myself, pitched my voice low and spoke in a calm, almost motherly tone. I said I wanted to tell them something about Flamenco. Immediately there was a hush and they became a concert audience.
It was a complete turnaround from the raucous reception in the beginning to utmost respect.
There were some 35 bookings at Universities and Colleges in addition to performances in Churches and Libraries in the Southern California area. Most of the reception was good and resulted in testimonials of praise for my presentations. It was on a high intellectual level and possibly over the head of the student audience and even the faculty.
At Pomona College, I received excellent comments for my skill and speaking ability. I still was able to memorize lengthy scripts which were always being revised.