Esther Ponce Magazine

THE DANCER AND THE DIPLOMAT

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Three years full of surreal adventures, successfully at a frenetic rhythm in Los Angeles, California 

"The Grammy Awards have arrived, I pick up Diego el Cigala from the airport and we become inseparable ...everyone thinks I was his manager."

As soon as Ferdy gave me the tapes of the DVD originals, I booked my trip to Madrid to pay the artists and find a good editor . The artists were a bit warm because they had not yet paid and it had been a while. Paul made a mistake when he asked the manager of the musicians, if the budget he had asked was for each day of performance, when the budget was for the three days of the festival, and who very intelligently was quick to answer yes. . Compared to the money that the famous guitarist Tomatito asked for, who was the first one we called to participate in the festival, it did not sound like so much money, but the expense tripled and we had to ask for a loan from the bank to face the super production that we had gotten into. And what would Paul pay monthly while I kept working to edit the best DVD and find a distributor in less than two years, which is the deadline that a city like LA has, or it goes directly to the drawer and nobody wants it anymore and you eat it with chips . If I had known what awaited me in the future, I would have negotiated the cache of the musicians myself. I believe that no one had taken them with such glamor and luxury as I have. But at least they were going to get paid ... in the flamenco scene it is very typical to leave the artists to duty. 
 
 Zuru told me about a filmmaker and his editor who worked for Antena 3 TV and that at that time they had free time because they had just returned from the islands to record a famous TV contest. We edited every day for 8 hours at the editor's house in the heart of Madrid in an old and very picturesque neighborhood. I think the final invoice put 200 hours of editing. Without me it would have been impossible to put the images together. From time to time Zuru came to supervise. They all learned to count the beat, every day they understood more about flamenco and the different styles and rhythms and they enjoyed the show very much that they already knew very well and it created a super special atmosphere and we were already like a family. I finally had my master of the Flamenco Dreams DVD in hand, now I had to convert it to the American system and I would be ready to find a good distributor and pay the loan with the sale. 
 
I couldn't go back to LA without celebrating and I went to party with Zuru and everyone I was meeting until we reached the flamenco route of the Plaza de Santa Ana, which is what Sofía and I called it and where we lived unforgettable moments in the El Callejón flamenco bar, like the one I lived that same night with Diego el Cigala, whom I found going down the stairs to go to the bathroom and stay with him until the owner, Lola, close the bar. Diego and I already had a history of many years ago, of companions on stage and of a mutual and very special affection. That night Diego gave me his new phone number, well, he gave me one of his partner, Amparo, who was what he called her and who was also his manager. This small woman in stature but immense in power, she had changed the cantaor's life for the better and forever in every way. Her career took a very different course and the successes were greater and greater and that forced him to have more responsibilities and that woman was essential in his life to be able to support himself and attend to so many commitments. 
When we said goodbye, Dieguito, who was what those of us who knew him as a young man called him, told me that he would call me because he had been nominated along with Bebo Valdés in the fifth edition of the Latin Grammy Awards for the best recording of the year with "Lagrimas Negras" and that he would like to see me. 
 
The Director of the famous Latin newspaper, who felt devotion to Diego el Cigala, was indebted to me and offered to put a limousine at my disposal for as long as I wanted on the occasion of the Grammy ceremony and on the condition that I will hand-deliver Diego a sweatshirt as a gift from him. It seemed a bit absurd to me, but don't hesitate for a moment to say yes. 
I called Diego in Spain and I asked him if he wanted me to come pick him up at the airport, I thought he would say no, that the organization would pick him up and his wife. But he said yes. I still didn't have the limousine at my disposal and I went with Paul in a sky blue convertible mini size jeep and I still remember Diegito that the first thing he did when he saw the car was laugh, and tell Amparo; What a great art Esther has! And take off the black Nike cap I was wearing and put it on him and never give it back to me. Diego el Cigala, who had traveled first class, got into the mini jeep like a child delighted with the experience. We dropped them off at the hotel and met Amparo the next day at the entrance of the Shrine auditorium, where the awards were held. 
Once inside, I went to say hello to Diego and told him that whatever he needed, he would not hesitate to ask me and, laughing and fooling around, I reminded him that I was the Queen of the night. Amparo was working and was going from one place to another and very aware that Diego was attentive to all the interviews. So I stayed by his side waiting for them to call him up on stage. 
The most exciting moment arrived and a super nervous African American girl approached me and said, please, I want Diego el Cigala to be ready in 5 minutes. If you need something now is the time to ask for it and do not forget that when you get off the stage you have to wait for the press ... when suddenly Amparo appears with the face of few friends saying in a loud and clear voice; "You have been confused!" Diego el Cigala's manager is me! I was not to blame for the mistake and Diego, drinking his glass in one go, did not even make the effort to look anyone in the face. I had a great time watching Paulina Rubio how she tripped going up on stage and EL Cigala telling his partner next to him why was that woman there if she didn't know how to sing. This was the last time the awards were broadcast on television nationwide in the United States in English with with CBS. Alejandro Sanz won 4 Grammys with “No es lo mismo” and Paco de Lucia for the best flamenco album with “Cositas Buenas”.  
 
I had been living for some time in Beverly Hills, at the home of my friend Maria, the Culture Director of the Spanish Consulate, and the limousine was already waiting for me at the door full of everything we liked. The Director of Tourism and his husband were unconditional fans of Cigala and I invited them to spend the day that I had prepared for Diego and Amparo, I also invited Sofía. Paul was already in the limo and we went collecting the guests. When we got to the hotel, Amparo told me that Diego didn't really want to go out, but I knew the real reason and like a spoiled child, I entered the room and told Diego that I was going to take him to spectacular places that he would never forget. that the party had already started in the limousine where we would tour the city before going to dinner at Robert de Niro's Italian restaurant where they make the best spaghetti at Le Bongole in the world and where they awaited him with open arms. With a lot of art he put on my Nike cap and asked Amparo, are you coming or are you staying? … I can only reveal how much we laughed during the entire tour in the limousine, the rest is Top Secret. Diego el Cigala sat presiding next to Paul and kept telling us anecdotes with his characteristic sense of humor. Everyone was fascinated to have such an artist of that category and owner of a Grammy so close. 
 
After dinner I had reserved a table in the attic of Leonardo di Caprio's Hotel Standar where it was very difficult to be on the guest list, but they already knew us. When the bodyguard who was always at the elevator door checking that no one went up if you weren't wearing the green bracelet on your wrist, he recognized Diego el Cigala, he began to sing the chorus of "Lagrimas Negras" from the CD that his wife had given him, who was Cuban like Bebo Valdés. So Diego starts laughing and very grateful, signed an autograph on his white shirt. I can't reveal who threw Diego into the pool either, but Amparo got very angry and asked Paul to please take her to the hotel. We all made her change her mind and we went to finish the night at the mountain house, where they had prepared a party for us and some close friends of the couple who worked at the F press agency were already waiting for us. The first to greet us was Tanaka, the German Shepherd who just wanted to eat breaded chicken sandwiches while “ Lágrimas Negras” soundtrack blared in the living room over and over again. 
 
The next morning I called Sofia super excited, I waited a bit for her to have time to have the second coffee, the first would not be enough. Although she already knew what I was going to tell her …Diego el Cigala would be the guest artist at “The Second Annual Los Angeles Flamenco Festival”. It was the beginning of September and there were only two and a half months left, I wanted to respect the same dates, November 14, 15 and 16. We had to find a sponsor quickly.

DON'T MISS CHAPTER 25

'Meeting in the office of the mansion of the manager of the singer Sting, what can I do for you? ...'

With Diego el Cigala dining at AGO, Robert de Niro's restaurant

At the Latin Grammy

Despedida en la casa de la montaña.

Esther Ponce's experimental Flamenco is ready for the Valencian Director of Tourism to meet

It is very gratifying to have an idea like the experimental Flamenco in Valencia, carry it out and have managed to attract more than 20 foreign clients to Valencia in a short time and without marketing, who have passed through the Flamenco Art Center, and who have not only They learned a lot if not they have returned to their country with a better concept of Valencia.

His experience and approach to flamenco led by Esther Ponce will make you return without hesitation to the city of Turia.

Esther Ponce not only surrounds them with her passion and charisma from the first moment, her professionalism and a very long journey through different countries of the world where she has lived for long periods, she makes them fall in love.

You just have to read the dedications of all the foreigners who write in their precious notebook created for them and that are already adding more and more.

«They also buy semi-professional shoes and a skirt to study with me.» That’s already the best! –
~ Esther Ponce

 The foreigner is used to teaching flamenco very quickly and without discipline, anything goes, any shoe, any skirt, hanging out even parodying and even ridiculing flamenco.

With me if they want to study two private hours which is the minimum, they are given the option of buying or renting the shoes and none of them have thought twice about it to this day.
 
«Being a polyglot, doors just open up to me» –
~ Esther Ponce
 
Definitely the Experimental Flamenco of Esther Ponce has an Angel!

From England, without a doubt the most special Experimental Flamenco we have had at the Flamenco Art Center in these two and a half years.

The Esther Ponce Stylized Flamenco Art Center has been open for two and a half years. El Ángel Every August 28, for Esther’s birthday, a new foreign student gives her a gift and the flamenco toast intensifies.

«The students do not want to miss the opportunity to study with me. When they start to study my technique they are hooked at the first second. Those who play sports and take care of themselves immediately identify with my stretching and feel safer for the rest of the class and those who don’t appreciate it and will surely start practicing it and taking care of themselves forever »
~ Esther Ponce

This year Esther thought that her Angel would be very busy due to the current pandemic situation and also that it would be a coincidence that another year happened.

But to Esther’s surprise it was like that and without doubt the most special flamenco toast for England.

«Discipline is my hallmark and not even the Covid has stopped us» «I have never doubted it and I will only teach classes with a mask»
~ Esther Ponce

After the experience of teaching classes with a mask? A private flamenco class for two hours without stopping, does Esther remember that when she and the student went out into the street they breathed for two seconds as if there were no tomorrow?According to Esther’s recent experience, with the mask you cannot see the total expression of the student, but the eyes also speak and flamenco is also expressed with the body.

With all the safety measures, the student disinfected her shoes, put hydroalcoholic gel on her hands, a temperature control was performed with a non-contact forehead thermometer and the student did not remove her mask during the two hours, only in the changing room that she only used to drink water. 

“Now I can present my Experimental Flamenco to the director of Tourism of Valencia and let him roll with the little ham :)”
 
~ Esther Ponce