Excerpt from The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Flamenco Academy

By Sarah Bird

The Flamenco Academy
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2006,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2007,
    400 pages.

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Laughter erupted.

“Tomorrow we get down to work.”

The loudest applause yet broke out.

“But before that could you, all you visitors, please, join us in a moment of silent prayer. Pray for rain, okay? Because if we don’t get some rain Dios only knows what’s going to happen to our poor state.”

As the theater fell silent, Alma stared at her palm. When the moment of prayer was over, she read the note she’d written there. “Oh, big announcement, people. It’s about Farruquito.” A chorus of squeals greeted the name of the Elvis of flamenco, a young dancer with the talent and, more important, the right genes, to be crowned the Great Bronze Hope. Like Carmen Amaya, like all the members of the true inner circle, Farruquito was gitano por cuatro costaos.

Alma gestured for the squealing girls to calm down. “This is a good news—bad news sort of deal. We’re not going to have time to publicize this, but I think we can probably fill the KiMo Theatre just with word of mouth. We have a last-minute change in the lineup.”

For the second time that evening, my skin began to prickle and the air around me seemed to become denser, the molecules slowing down as if the barometric pressure had suddenly dropped the way it does before a storm. Because it was the worst thing I could imagine, I knew before
Alma said the words what her announcement would be.

“The bad news is that Farruquito has had to cancel.”

A wave of groans swept through the crowd at learning that the boy wonder of flamenco and heir apparent to the title of king of old-school flamenco, flamenco puro, was not coming. The deadened thud in my chest accelerated with a rhythm like horse hooves pounding nearer.

“But the good news is that our most famous alumna has agreed to fill in.”

I prayed, I begged all the flamenco deities to, please, stop what I knew was coming. They ignored me.

“So let’s spread the word. Ofelia is coming home!”

That name, those syllables, Oh-fay-lee-yuh, filled my head with a rushing like storm water surging down a drain. It blocked out the sound of clapping. I had to leave. Immediately. I staggered to my feet. Heads bobbed in front of me like a collection of people-shaped piñatas, a gauntlet I had to run.

Outside the theater, I tried to inhale, tried to make myself breathe. The scorched air chafed my lungs as I ran across the campus. I was coughing and my eyes were streaming by the time I jumped into my truck, which I’d left in the Frontier Restaurant parking lot. I pounded my hands on the steering wheel to drive that fraud of a name, Ofelia, Oh-fay-lee-yuh, out of my head. One name, that was her entire life’s goal, to be a one-name celebrity. I refused to give her that, to think of her as Ofelia. To me she would always be Didi. Didi Steinberg.

A long time ago she had been my best friend. Not so long ago she stole the only man I will ever love.

Excerpted from The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Bird. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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