Editors Note: We always appreciate news direct from mother Spain and the following letter and photos, sent in by Prue Torres (august 2010), serve as the perfect remedy for those of us that wish we could be there right now!
“Por el amor de flamenco!”
HE JOURNEY BEGAN in Granada, a place and scene I was familiar with. Making my way up the to the mystic perch of El Albaycin, all senses engaged, with the intoxicating smell of rose and jasmine; breathtaking views of La Alhambra; the sounds of children laughing and improvising barefoot in the street; abuelo cantando por buleria while abuela is cursing to them – “¡¡Compás! Compás porfavorr!!”
My intention for this trip was to understand more about of the language of flamenco. I wanted to know more about the structure and the subtle communications of this largely esoteric art form. Having not danced for the better half of a year, walking into the advanced class was somewhat humbling… I was quickly reminded how important it is to let go of ego, let go of what you think you know and just get in there and do it. It’s often a lot less complicated than you think, especially when you can get to the point of hearing not just listening… and that I’m still working on!
Granada was generous with me on many levels… especially with its performances. La Chumbera is an auditorium in UNESCO-listed region of Sacramonte, home to some of the greatest gitano flamencos, and one of my favourites, Pepe Habichuela, was performing there. The theatre is just stunning, the wall behind the stage is glass, the curtain slowly starts to rise as he touches us with his opening falseta – and by the time his first letra begins the curtain has fully risen to reveal the brilliant view of the Alhambra – the ultimate backdrop – I melted into my seat and floated into a blissful flamenco cloud… can it get any better?
Yes, and it did. Marina Heredia with special guest Farruquito at the Palacio de Congresos; Miguel Poveda, also at the Palacio de Congresos; and El Faru (brother of Farruquito) at the Corral del Carbón theatre with special guests El Polito and the incredible El Carpeta, the youngest of the Montoya brothers …
I even managed to catch a very unique event: Flamenco Flatland – the combination of Flamenco and BMX freestyle. The legend Rafael Amargo and his group, with the five top world BMX freestyle riders to compete for the world BMX freestyle title. The riders had to battle it out and perform their amazing freestyle tricks “en compás” on stage to the live flamenco… Watching the riders cleverly copy the turns of the bailaores but on the back wheel of the bike, was just insane.
It was time now to move even more out of my comfort zone and head to Sevilla. For a different kind of flamenco vibe, still rich with its gitano presence but a bigger scene, with more schools and styles to choose from. The range is overwhelming…!
It feels almost indulgent to have this sort of flamenco at your finger tips…. I have fallen in love with the summer open air style performances…. Miguel Ángel “El Rubio” Ramos, the José Torres Trio with guest bailaora Melisa Calero de Cordoba, and just this weekend in Granada I had the absolute pleasure to experience an intimate open air performance with the unforgettable voice of Joni Cortés and Juan Habcheula (nieto) on guitar high up the mountain at the Museo Cuevas de Sacramonte…. Listening to him powerfully and just so beautifully cry out his opening Martinete has left me inspired, and not only with a deeper understanding of the language that is Flamenco, but the realization that flamenco is like medicine to so many of us.
August has been quiet and with temperatures between 35 – 44 degrees, it’s understandable that schools shut down and everyone heads to the beach… as did I for a much needed play in the Atlantic Ocean. Calm before the Bienal de Sevilla storm! Still not confirmed when I’m back but the sounds of things OZ is in for a treat with flamenco gigs popping up more, including one of the Spanish Australians who I have met here, Sebastian Sanchez a bailaor from Queensland. He will be in Oz from October for a four months fresh from his tour of Russia. He is set to perform and give workshops in a few states so keep an eye out for that .
One of my teachers once said to me…
…now I understand what he means by that although what I learnt on the weekend was that flamenco knows me a little better than it know it…
Besos de Sevilla xx
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