Leaps And Twirls Around The World No 1 - Flamenco And Fun In Madrid
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Leapsetta and Twirlsabelle were the best of friends and what they both loved doing best was dancing. Leapsetta loved to use her imagination and leap over the largest puddles ever, while Twirlsabelle insisted on twirling long after everyone else in her dance class had stopped! It was no surprise that Leapsetta was otherwise known as 'Leaps'...
And Twirlsabelle said to all those who knew her, "Just call me 'Twirls.'"
Leaps and Twirls took ballet, jazz and tap dance at Jewels, Miss Julie's Dance Centre.
Miss Julie's absolute favourite, most incredible experience in her entire life was performing dance all over the world. The walls of Jewels were covered with colourful pictures of Miss Julie dancing all across the globe ; performing magnificent moves in Morocco, fantastic folk dance in a faraway French village, beautiful ballet in Bombay, sensational splits in Switzerland and cool jazz combinations in Canada!
The latest picture was of Miss Julie dancing the hula very happily in Hawaii.
It was the first evening of Miss Julie's new choreography class and her students were learning how to create their very own special dances.
"OK, my Jewels, now it's time to put together your dance steps into a combination.
Practice, practice, practice! Then you will shine when you perform your dances in the big spring recital!"
Leaps and Twirls loved how Miss Julie called all of her students her 'Jewels' because when they danced, they each shined in their own beautiful way.
Twirls said, "You know Leaps, we really should practice new steps, not just the ones we already know how to do well, like leaps and twirls."
"OK, I guess" Leaps said doubtfully, "but I really want to leap."
What she really wanted to do was take off doing twenty leaps across the floor!
"I know what you mean," Twirls said. "I want to twirl and twirl and twirl!"
As she said this, Twirls twirled right into two dancers who were practicing and she almost twirled out the door!
There were dancing feet everywhere, kicking high, bending low, leaping fast, galloping slow, turning right, sliding left: a whirlwind of colour, a kaleidoscope of shapes opening, closing, and always changing.
Leaps and Twirls both looked at all the other dancers and then they looked at each other feeling very worried about performing new steps in the spring recital.
Suddenly Miss Julie was beside them. "Remember girls; new steps bring new adventures! When you learn new steps, you will discover a world of possibilities."
"New steps bring new adventures" Leaps and Twirls said at the same time.
They thought that sounded very exciting.
Leaps thought that maybe she could practice doing turns toward the mirror, and Twirls thought that she just may practice jumps in place.
A lively piano melody filled the dance studio and the girls became brave.
"I'm going to try five turns!" exclaimed Leaps.
"I'll try five jumps!" exclaimed Twirls.
Twirls counted as she jumped, "1-2-3-4-5!"
Leaps counted as she turned, "1-2-3-4-5!"
Then something extraordinary happened.
Twirls jumped down through the dance floor as if there were no floor at all, just as Leaps disappeared right through the mirror!
The next thing they knew they were flying in an enormous clear blue sky; way above rooftops, way above treetops, way above lots of tiny moving dots; wait a minute, those are people!
'What in the world happened to Miss Julie's Dance Centre???' Leaps and Twirl both wondered.
"Twirls, we're flying!" Leaps shouted.
"A-a-a-a-hh!! Whoa! Oh my! Oh my! A-a-a-a-hh!!" screamed Twirls. "How did we get he-e-e-e-re?"
"I don't kno-o-o-o-w!" Leaps answered her flying friend, remembering that Miss Julie wanted their leaps and jumps to reach the sky, but not this high in the sky!
In seconds Leaps and Twirls were flying closer and closer to a huge square. Closer and even closer; and with very graceful leaps much like ballerinas performing magnificent grand jetes, the girls landed softly and with bent knees, but instead of landing on the dance studio floor, they had arrived someplace far away.
"Wow!" they both exclaimed at once.
Then they were surprised by the sound of another girl's excited voice right behind them.
"Ola!" the girl exclaimed. "Ola means 'hello' in Spanish. Me llamo Ana.
That means, 'My name is Ana."
"Me llamo Leaps!"
"Me llamo Twirls!"
"Muy bien!" said Ana. "That means Very good!"
Ana wore a bright red and yellow dress with ruffles.
Twirls thought Ana had the biggest smile she had ever seen, while Leaps wondered if anyone had hair as long and curly as Ana's?
"Welcome to Madrid, Spain.
You are on the Plaza Mayor; a very popular square and today is the summer arts festival. Follow me, amigas, hurry! 'Amigas' means 'friends' and you are my new friends.
Our flamenco dance performance will start in just a few minutes! Hurry!"
Leaps and Twirls followed Ana quickly through the busy square full of cafes, shops, and lots of people talking and laughing. There was music, clapping, cheering and the wonderful smell of fresh, hot cinnamon churros.
"Padre, Padre, save us some churros!" called Ana. "That is my father" she told Leaps and Twirls. "He is selling churros at the festival."
In no time Leaps and Twirls were standing on a big stage in the middle of the square with many other girls dressed in long beautiful costumes the colours of pretty spring flowers. Suddenly the two friends were wearing long red ruffled dresses and they too became part of the garden of dancers.
Guitar music was heard throughout the square and excitement filled the air.
"Follow me," Ana said, and in seconds, Leaps and Twirls were performing flamenco dance on stage like magic! They were circling their hands in the air slowly while stamping their feet, swishing their skirts side to side, and twirling.
Twirls especially loved that part.
The flamenco dancers ended the performance in a striking pose with both arms in the air in a diamond shape.
The crowd cheered loudly.
Inside Leaps and Twirls were cheering for themselves too because they performed all new dance steps!
"Gracias, Leaps and Twirls!" Ana said. Thank you for dancing flamenco in our performance. "'Gracias' means 'thank you.'"
"Now it's time for fresh warm churros!"
Leaps and Twirls didn't know what churros were, but they remembered the wonderful smell of cinnamon in the air before they danced.
"Hey, if we can try new dance steps, we can definitely try a new food!" Leaps said.
The girls followed their noses to the churros stand where Ana's father treated them to warm, delicious cinnamon flavoured sticks.
"Gracias!" Leaps and Twirls said at the same time to Ana's father. "Very good!" Ana told them. "You danced new dance steps, you are eating a new food, and you said 'thank you' in a new language. I am very proud of you!"
"Gracias!" Leaps and Twirls said again, and all three girls started laughing.
"Now let's dance through the streets of Madrid and see where our steps take us!" Ana suggested to her friends with an adventurous gleam in her eyes.
Leaps and Twirls followed Ana like they were playing 'Follow the Leader.'
Still dressed in their flowing costumes, they were stamping and clapping their hands like flamenco dancers all the way down the street!
Finally they arrived at an enormous palace.
Leaps and Twirls couldn't believe how beautiful and majestic it looked.
"We did flamenco dance steps all the way to the Royal Palace of Madrid!" Ana exclaimed.
"This is the biggest royal palace in all of Europe," Ana said. "When I took a tour of the palace with my parents, I learned that there are 2,800 rooms!"
"Wow!" cried Twirls. "Let's go inside and explore some of the rooms!" Leaps suggested.
The girls walked up a huge staircase called 'The Grand Staircase.'
They saw lots of very fancy rooms and there were paintings everywhere; even on the ceiling!
"I feel like dancing when I am in this palace," Leaps said.
"I would love to have a sleepover in this palace!" Twirls said. "Then we could search together for hidden passageways and secret rooms!" she imagined.
Then Leaps said, "Hey, why don't we have a dancing sleepover in the palace? We can dance through hidden passageways and mysterious rooms until we reach the library room where I'll read you a bedtime story!" Ana finished.
The girls thought that sounded like a great overnight adventure.
"It's fun to imagine, isn't it?" Twirls asked.
When they arrived outside in the courtyard, the girls pretended to have their own special ceremony for the king, and of course, that ceremony included dancing.
Leaps, Twirls and Ana had a big appetite after all their royal dancing.
"Let's have a magic empanada picnic in Buen Retiro Park!" Ana said
"What's a magic empanada picnic?" Leaps asked.
"Where is Buen Retiro Park?" Twirls asked.
"I will show you," Ana said, "but first we must swish our skirts to travel there.
Do what I do. Ready... set... swish!"
The three dancer friends swished their skirts while saying "Swish, Swish, Swish!"
"Swish, Swish, Swish! Swish, Swish, Swish!"
In an amazing magical moment, Leaps, Twirls and Ana were sitting in a big beautiful park on a big picnic blanket eating big tasty empanadas.
"We are in my favourite park in the world and this is my favourite food!" Ana cried.
She explained to Leaps and Twirls that empanadas are a popular food in Spain and they have different types of fillings. The girls enjoyed cheese empanadas while listening to a young woman sing and play the guitar.
Twirls noticed how people had fun in the park in many different ways; running, rollerblading, biking, rolling on the grass and even doing yoga!
A little girl was dancing beside her mother, only stopping to blow a pinwheel in her hand, and how fast it went when the wind helped to blow it!
That gave Twirls an idea to twirl like a pinwheel so that is exactly what she did!
A kite with colourful ribbons was flying high in the sunny sky. Seeing the kite made Leaps feel like leaping toward the lake, while waving her arms in the air like ribbons blowing in the breeze. She did exactly that!
Ana and Twirls followed Leaps and then all three girls had the same idea to go boating on the lake. While they did, they made friends with the ducks that were swimming by.
Then they watched a funny puppet show with dancing penguins!
"This gives me an idea!" Ana cried. "Let's go to Faunia; a wonderful zoo where we can see lots of penguins and other animals! But first follow me to a special garden."
Leaps and Twirls followed Ana once again like they were playing 'Follow the Leader' and they stamped and clapped through the park to a garden where they saw three magnificent peacocks!
"Let's spread our feathers like the peacocks do," Ana said.
Leaps, Twirls and Ana raised their arms to the side and above their heads in a very proud way, just like flamenco dancers!
"Hey, we are peacocks dancing flamenco!" Twirls said giggling.
All of a sudden the girls felt a light wind blow through their hair and the colours of the park swirled all around them; then they saw black and white everywhere, the black and white of the penguins! But they weren't the dancing puppet penguins...
There were real penguins and a ton of them! "We are at Faunia, amigas!" Ana shouted with much excitement.
Leaps, Twirls and Ana couldn't believe how many penguins there were!
After watching the penguins waddle, the girls walked with their feet apart and did their own penguin dance!
They stood on one leg just like the flamingoes and they had a contest to see how long they could balance standing on one leg. The flamingoes won!
A kangaroo was standing and watching the three friends. How big and tall it was!
"Let's do a kangaroo parade!" Leaps said.
The girls jumped like kangaroos one behind the other and soon decided that even kangaroos in a parade should have an ice cream break!
Afterwards, Ana, Leaps and Twirls explored the tropical rainforest building where they spotted cute little monkeys and birds with bright beaks and feathers. They felt like they were in a real rainforest and even heard the sounds of a tropical rainstorm!
After the storm was over, Ana and Twirls didn't see Leaps anywhere!
They looked behind trees, but no Leaps.
They looked behind tall plants, but no Leaps.
They looked all around the rainforest to see if Leaps was playing with the monkeys or flying with the birds, but no Leaps.
"Twirls! Ana! Look at me! I'm a manatee!" Leaps shouted.
Ana and Twirls followed their friend's voice to an underwater tunnel.
Children were watching the big manatees and lots of smaller fish swim above them and all around them, while Leaps was pretending to swim through the tunnel like a real manatee!
As the sky grew a little darker and evening was just around the corner, the girls went on an 'animal walk' around the zoo moving like many of the animals that they had seen.
"We have one last stop on your journey through Madrid," Ana told her friends.
"There is a fiesta de cumpleaños at my house; a birthday party for my baby brother Daniel! We mustn't be late! Let's raise our arms in the air and circle our hands like flamenco dancers!"
Leaps, Twirls and Ana gathered together in a small circle and with raised arms, circled their hands slowly!
Suddenly they were in Ana's backyard filled with lights, streamers, balloons tied to chairs, and music with a fast, fantastic beat!
Leaps and Twirls tried small plates of tapas; there were so many different types of colourful foods!
"M-m-m-m...delicious!" Leaps said. "Trying new foods is fun!" Twirls said.
"Baile! Baile!" little Daniel cried.
"Daniel wants us to dance for his birthday," Ana said. "Come on everyone, let's dance!" A big group of Ana's friends and family gathered together and started dancing.
Ana, Leaps and Twirls also joined in the fun. While Daniel clapped his hands to the beat, Leaps and Twirls danced the new flamenco steps that they had learned while Ana leaped and twirled across the yard.
When the music finally stopped, Leaps and Twirls thought about their amazing day in Madrid filled with all sorts of fun steps; flamenco dancing at the Plaza Mayor, royal dancing at the palace, leaping and twirling in the park, moving like animals throughout the zoo.
"Leaps! Twirls! Come, my Jewels; it's time to practice your new steps! Come, my Jewels!"
It was Miss Julie's voice; but where was Miss Julie?
Her voice sounded like it was so far away.
"Leaps! Twirls! Come, my Jewels; it's time to practice your new steps! Come, my Jewels!"
Ana winked at Leaps and Twirls and gave them a huge smile.
The next thing Leaps and Twirls saw were their own faces in the dance studio mirror! They were back in Miss Julie's choreography class doing turns, jumps and the flamenco dance steps that Ana had taught them!
Leaps and Twirls couldn't wait to tell Miss Julie all about their fun and exciting journey through Madrid; and how new steps brought new adventures!
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