More Brisbane Workshop photos by Lisa

1 Feb

¡Hola a todos!

Lisa McKinnon has published all her photos here for your viewing pleasure:

We think they are spectacularly good and if you agree please tell her so. Lisa is just a couple of weeks off welcoming a small human into the world.

Andres is back home in Jerez after his three-week workshop tour to Japan and similarly anticipating baby daughter Martina’s arrival in March. More flamencas!


All the best for the coming months,

Sharon and Sebastian


Brisbane Andres Peña Workshops Photo Gallery Thursday 12/12/13 by Lisa McKinnon

19 Dec












Great work Lisa, thank you!

Sharon and Sebastian

Last Post: ¡Mil gracias Australia!

18 Dec

When Sebastian and I sat drinking beer in the Andalusian sunshine after taking class with Andres in Triana, talking about how awesome it would be to have Andres teach in Australia, we had no idea how well received our project would be.

Australia has taken him into their hearts and in return Andres has fallen in love with Australia even more than his first trip here age 19. Just look at the smile on his face wine tasting in Adelaide!


An artist of Andres’ calibre has so many demands on their time it will always be a struggle to fit in long distance travel across many time zones to teach and perform but Andres is very keen to come back to Australia. There is also the small matter of his impending fatherhood with his baby girl, Martina, due in March. As a new father he needs to be more flexible to juggle his and Pilar’s committments.

Stay tuned and we’ll let you know what transpires. As Andres says, a return to Oz is very possible!

Photo by Adrian van Nunen

Over and above our unforgettable experiences in class these past two weeks we feel that the fellowship of flamenco in Australia has been strengthened around Andres’ presence. We hope the friendship and support we’ve experienced goes from strength to strength. Please let our community know well in advance when events are happening so we can be there for each other.

Sebas and I wish to publicly acknowledge our key flamenco partners in each city, Farida Rabih in Perth, Simone Pope in Brisbane and Roshanne Wijeyeratne in Adelaide. You believed in Andres and us. Your help was critical to our success.

In addition many other Australian teachers supported the tour by their advice, their valued presence and by encouraging their students to attend. In tour chronological order thank you Perth, Deanna Blacher OAM and Lyn Barwick, from East Coast Australia thank you Yioda Wilson, Serena Joy, and Louise Robinson. From Sydney thank you Diana Reyes, Tomas Dietz (also Canberra), Marina Tamaya, Chachy Peñalver, and Jessica Statham. From Adelaide thank you Susi Masi and Emma Fernee, Kristy Manuel and Veronica Vargas. And in Melbourne Tomas Arruquero and Laura Uhe. And special mention to our Singapore buddy Tania Goh whose experience was invaluable in informing our planning.

Andres’ guitarists were similarly wonderful, so generous with their time. Thank you Alain Valodze, David Heisner and Aloysius Leeson.

Not forgetting the studio owners/managers, photographers Lisa McKinnon, Adrian van Nunen and Sophie Abbott and afficionados who assisted us in different ways. ¡Muchas gracias! We hope we’ve recognised you on our flamenco partners and supporters’ page and anyone we missed out, sincere apologies.

And finally, to the students who found the time, money and babysitters at this crazy time of year to dedicate themselves to improving their art, we salute you and look forward to meeting again!

Photo by Adrian Van Nunen

We’ll be sending a brief online feedback survey to students and observers in a day or so seeking your advice about improving the workshops. We’d love to hear from you!

This is the final regular blog post. If you came late to the blog have a look at past postings (just keep scrolling down) for an interview with Andres and insights into the humble, sweet man he is. We may post additional photos as they come in, and of course we’ll send future tour news through posts and on the Andres Peña tour facebook group:

But for now it’s ‘¡Hasta luego!’ from Andres and from us. We wish you a happy, relaxed year end break and a new year filled with flamenco soul food!



Sharon and Sebastian

Photo by Adrian van Nunen

Oh what a night!

17 Dec

This going to be brief. It’s well after 3am but I want to get the photos I took from tonight up so you can see what an absolute blast we had.

Bulerias de Jerez went off! We had some perfect and some almost perfect solos. We even had observers jump into the circle to dance for Andres. No names mentioned…..Daniel 🙂 you did well! Sophie Abbott will have fabulous photos by and by.

Bulerias de Jerez dancers, musician and observers

Andres insisted on giving an extra thirty minutes to the Alegrias dancers so they could complete his footwork. Amazing choreography at Andres’ performance level. You should be proud of what you accomplished. A delight to watch.

But after the hard work tonight was all about celebrating the end of a successful workshop tour. Marguerite and Benjamin at Latino Cafe looked after us very well. ¡Gracias!



Once the tapas platters were cleared away the music started, followed by dancing. We mangled a few genres but had a whole lotta fun. Zoe Velez, Tomas Dietz and Gerry Masi sang, Alain Valodze and Marduk (Luke) Gault provided guitar, and The Charger worked his magic on flute. A very special night with heartfelt thank you speeches from Sebastian and Andres.

Sebastian and my motivation for bringing Andres to Australia was to give the Australian flamenco community who can’t travel to Spain for whatever reason, a taste of what a gran maestro can teach us. Andres gave us a crash course in humility, humour, love and compassion. Oh, and a few cool moves. No seriously, the steps may disappear from our muscle memory but nothing will erase the joy we all experienced in his presence.

¡Mil gracias Andres!








Last blog tomorrow, Andres’ departure day!

The Penultimate Evening

16 Dec

Tonight belonged to Angela Stebbing. I know it’s not usual practice to single a dancer out for praise, but ‘Oh my God’ as Andres would say, Angela you ruled in Bulerias de Jerez! To dance solo for Andres is a daunting challenge for the most experienced of dancers and with only three sessions you nailed it! RESPECT! I am just sorry I don’t have a photo of you to record the moment.

Other dancers had their solo moment too. This is Adriana Morales Davaus executing flawless pataitas.


Andres mixed in some antigua (antique) Bulerias styles tonight to test people and everyone rose to the occasion.


Our Bulerias observers took full advantage of the opportunity and practiced their remates seated! Check them out.



We even had a surprise visit from Marina Tamaya on her way to Spain. So glad you could drop in guapa!

Tomorrow is our last night of workshops in Australia. Wednesday Andres returns to Jerez for Xmas with his family before starting a three week workshop tour in Japan. Let’s practice those letres and his gorgeous alegrias and make him proud!


Once again Adrian Van Nuno has taken some lovely photos so we’ll set up a gallery for you to view them.

¡Hasta mañana!

Sharon and Sebastian

¡Tangos! Done and Dusted

15 Dec

Four hours is rather short to do justice to Andres’ tangos but we did our best!

One thing I love about Andres as a teacher, and this is a rare quality, is his fundamental respect for adult learners. If people are willing to have a crack and commit 100% you will never hear a sharp word from him. We didn’t all master his steps but we did work hard to give of our best. Moreover we all took away a love for the playful tangos palo and the beginnings of an understanding of how to dance it ‘naturally’, i.e. by listening to the singer, not by counting and rote learning.

¡Felicidades el grupo tangos!


Both the bulerias de Jerez and alegrias advanced considerably although I am not sure everyone did their homework of learning the bulerias letres that Andres had encouraged people to record…..The true test will come Tuesday when people will be invited to dance solo! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Alegrias got even more crazy tonight with some razor sharp hip turns and lyrical fluid moves. I admit to a partiality for alegrias and was thrilled when Zoe Velez stepped up to the challenge of singing for the final run through tonight. Just beautiful.

Here is another alegrias shot, just gorgeous dancing!


And to finish our bulerias group seen here mastering a graceful exit….


Not forgetting our observers who do a fair bit of chair dancing, especially in bulerias!

But shot of the day goes to the dynamic las hermanas flamencas, seen here refueling between workshops. Emma Fermee and Susi Masi, no banana slips for you!


Adelaide Kick Started!

14 Dec

All three Adelaide workshops kicked off today: elementary tangos, basic-intermediate bulerias de Jerez and advanced alegrias.

Once again we have interstate dancers with us, some who have come directly from the Brisbane workshops. Respect Tomas and Zoe!

Andres the energiser bunny needed a little extra caffeine this afternoon but as ever he found the energy for ‘my people’ and delivered some clever choreography in tangos and professional level alegrias with Aloysius accompanying very intelligently.

Great to have three male dancers in class too!

The bulerias group found the remates very quickly. Impressive!



Adrian shot some photos for us. We hope to pass some on to you as soon as possible.

With three sessions in a row everyone needed a refreshment break. I captured this group of chicas in the studio before alegrias.


We have only three more days of workshops before Andres returns to Jerez de la Frontera. There are still observer spots in each session.

If you want to observe please book in via or call 0467052961 (phone is on silent during classes) and come ten minutes early as it is disruptive to the class to have people arrive late.

Sunday 15 December 2013
1:30pm-3:30pm (Ele) Tangos
3:30pm-5:30pm (Bas-Int) Bulerias de Jerez
6:00pm-8:00pm (Adv) Alegrias

Monday 16 December AND Tuesday 17 December 2013
6:30pm-8:00pm (Bas-Int) Bulerias de Jerez
8:00pm- 9:30pm (Adv) Alegrias


Sharon and Sebastian

Brisbane, we work hard and play even harder!

13 Dec

Dear Friends of the Andres Peña Australian Workshop Tour,

After five evenings of fabulous flamenco Andres taught his final Brisbane class tonight!

The sold out Bulerias de Jerez rang with enthusiastic emerging flamenco dancers bravely negotiating Andres’ signature remate (closing) steps and absorbing his sincere, Jerez style choreography. You all did well! Several brave souls stepped forward to do solos and acquitted themselves well. Special mention for Zoe Velez who sang bulerias for Tomas Dietz to dance! ¡Ole!




Sebastian struts his stuff!


Karen Fellenberg gets her groove on!


Yioda Wilson lookin’ good girlfriend!


‘Wild thang’ Zoe Velez!


¡Simone Pope – guapa!

The very strong advanced Solea por Bulerias workshop group continued to attack the challenging choreography Andres created on the spot. Those of us observing wisely used ear plugs to dull the zapateado (footwork) drilling. Industrial deafness is a real possibility with this crowd of all out dancers!

I found myself in tears several times this week as Andres sang the soaring verse about how much happiness his beautiful flamenco woman brought him. Beyond money. Pilar he is missing you! Andres claims he is not a singer but many of us would disagree.



The fun continued at our fiesta for all dancers and observers and their partners. The party could have gone on much longer had we not had an early flight to Adelaide to begin the afternoon workshops!


Brisbane has been rather special for Sebastian and for me as it is our home town. We have loved hosting the interstate dancers and getting to know you all.

A heartfelt gracias to David Heisner for his beautiful accompaniment and Simone Pope for her assistance with planning and for providing transport for Andres, as well as the use of her home studio to enable Andres to continue to work on his solo Jerez Flamenco Festival show (March 3rd if you are anywhere near Jerez then). Lisa McKinnon has taken lots of lovely photos of the Thursday night Solea por Bulerias and the Tangos class which will be available next week. ¡Gracias guapa!

Adelaide here we come. ¡Venga!

Sharon and Sebastian
Tel: 0467052961

No tengo palabras….

11 Dec

It’s a common expression when faced with something extraordinary, ‘Words fail me’. Well tonight I’ll let some ipad snaps of this evening’s Solea por Bulerias class speak for themselves. As video is not permitted this is the closest I could get to capturing the intensity of their concentration and rapid fire movements.

These guys are seriously digging deep to nail Andres’ choreography and he does not miss a thing!

¡Ole a todos!

Sharon and Sebastian

















Close your eyes and Open Your Mind

10 Dec

I am sitting here, ruminating, with a delicious bottle of Pedro Ximenez Barbadillo most parts full. Don’t worry David, I promise to bring enough for your tipple between classes tomorrow night!

Second evening in Brisbane and the sold out elementary Tangos session #1 and basic-intermediate Bulerias de Jerez #2 are done and dusted. I’m reflecting on how fast the Brisbane workshop participants have picked up and digested information it took me a couple of weeks studying with Andres to understand. You guys are awesome! Yes it’s a struggle, but you are doing it with big smiles and total committment.

My favourite moment was when everyone had to shut their eyes and identify with a clap the exact moment of the remate while Andres sang bulerias, varying the phrasing every time. Such a good exercise!

So much of the time in class we attend to what other dancers are doing. As Andres explained, bulerias de Jerez is all about the communication between the guitarist, singer and the dancer. If one is not listening to the other it doesn’t work. So to just switch off everything except the ears and listen to a live singer and guitarist is a rare treat. Of course we fail many times before we succeed but few things in life are as sweet as nailing a remate!

You might be wondering what else Andres is up to in Australia besides his teaching workload. Well, on top of three workshops in three cities he is mounting a main stage solo show for the Villamarta Theatre during the Festival de Jerez, the major annual flamenco festival in Spain. That takes many, many hours in the studio. Usually Andres partners his wife, the dancer Pilar Ogalla, for these shows but Pili is expecting her first child in March so she has been grounded for little while!

The life of a successful flamenco artist today is an incredibly disciplined one. If they’re not teaching they’re creating, performing or travelling to their next job. We were so lucky Andres had a small window in his schedule and took the brave leap to come to Australia.

One of the many people critical to our project’s success is Sylvia Arroyo who organised Andres’ work visa application. In the middle of changing federal government administrations and immigration law it was such a comfort to work with a professional who is also a flamenca (who has taken time out to have a family)! Sylvia came to observe Bulerias tonight. Here she is with Andres.


And here we have the ‘eyes wide shut’ dancers and various bulerias moments tonight, including translator Sebas holding up two fingers to indicate…..what? A shot of PX Barbadillo to the first person to tell me what he was signalling!







Sharon and Sebastian