Tango break: Flamenco

It is December already! When did that happen?

There was certainly tango in my long weekend, but standing out in my mind right now is the flamenco performance I went to yesterday. (I am inspired and want to join tangobaby in taking some classes now!) It was a matinee performance by the Compañia Flamenco José Porcel.

The last time I saw flamenco performed live was years ago, in a little cafe in Granada. I remember the performance being improvised, and there was a young girl with the most striking onstage presence. The show yesterday was performed in a symphony hall and mostly choreographed, except for one of José Porcel’s solos. At one point I turned to my friend and commented on how this distinction is probably like that of stage and social tango – we got the stylized, stage form of flamenco, but neither of us knows enough about the dance to mind.

Flamenco was one piece of what attracted me to Andalucía when I was younger. I fell in love with Granada – the flamenco music, the intricate footwork and floreos and castanets, the attitude, not to mention the Alhambra and artwork and feeling of southern Spain. I did not, in the end, go back to Granada for anything more than vacation visits, but a piece of it stuck with me. It isn’t just the part of me that wants to be Spanish (especially now, when being Spanish means something different to me) but the part of me that admires strong women and the passion that flamenco embodies.

The musicians lined up on the back portion of the stage: the drummer, two singers (a man and a women), two guitarists, and a flutist/saxophonist. The singers were wonderful, and the power in the man’s voice was astounding. I found the improvised portion of Porcel’s solo most interesting for the relationship between him and the musicians – they connected in a real way that didn’t happen during the choreography. Not to say that the choreography wasn’t powerful, as well.

But still, the moment that stands out from the entire show was at the end, after everyone had taken their bows. Musicians and dancers alike crowded the very front of the stage, and one of the guitarists started in again. The woman began singing, and Porcel pushed one of the guys out to dance. After that, everyone goaded the drummer into taking a turn. And the singer handed her mike over to the other singer and took her turn dancing. The moment was probably planned, but it felt so real and fun. I do think that the drummer’s shyness and everyone else’s laughter were real. The comraderie, the relationships between musician and dancer, these were very real.

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One thought on “Tango break: Flamenco

  1. There is something very intimate and special about how in flamenco, the musician plays for the dancer, and how the dancer dances for the musician. It’s definitely a partnership, a dance partner.I miss not dancing flamenco (it is so difficult for me, the coordination!) but watching it is magical. The eastern influences in it, like you mentioned with the floreo, is so gorgeous.

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