One time my fortune cookie said, “You will receive some ‘grat’ honor. It struck me funny so I taped it on my computer. About a week later I received an email from my dear friend and idol, Nora Olivera, inviting me to attend her Tango Week as her guest and write a daily newsletter. Talk about a “grat” honor!
Nora had taught workshops in Portland a few times and at University of the Pacific Folk Dance Camp in 1998 where we spent late nights in the dorm getting acquainted and becoming life-long friends.
The extraordinary opportunity allowed me to study with many beloved and legendary Masters y Maestras, and there were moments of magic beyond my wildest dreams. At the end of an intermediate class, the revered Nito Garcia beckoned me to the floor. I had just entered the room and had nary a clue what he had in mind. He led a combination with my finishing in a medium-deep lunge. His masterful touch let me know exactly what he wanted. Referring to the importance of clear leading, he said to the class, “See? She didn’t even know what I was going to do.”
In 2005 Maestro Jorge Firpo selected me to demonstrate with him for most of his beginning and intermediate classes, in close embrace, and for several of the taped summaries. Unbelievable. (Some are on You Tube.)
Top priority was to please Nora and live up to her expectations. My most treasured reward was seeing her smile or nod approval at something I’d written. And my biggest thrill was when she said, “Write what you want…I don’t need to read it first.”
It’s 2018, I’m (gulp!) 77 and health issues have prevented my attending since 2012. I dearly miss Nora, friends, and spending time in the presence of greatness.