“Don’t ever, ever disrespect flamenco”

I will not soon forget the voice of that angry gentleman.

Some people were pouring their hearts out.
To a rhythm that needed utmost concentration.
Someone was doing so by snapping the fingers, someone by clapping, someone by playing the guitar, someone by drumming on a box, someone by singing, and someone by dancing.
In a jazz-like performance going crescendo trying to read each others’ direction.

And my friend and me were chatting as though it was just some tea-room wallpaper sound.

That was 10 years ago and I’m so happy that this moment gave me at least the drive to learn more about flamenco, all the way up to joining a master class in zapateado (footwork).

Flamenco… an eye-opener for the body

flamenco-danserOver a dozen ‘palos’ or styles: from the happier ‘alegria‘ and ‘rumba‘ to the buleria and tango and fandango.

From hands to instruments to voice to dancing… arguably the most complete art form of the world.

In Western and Northern Europe we can do the rhythms 1-2-1-2 (‘boom boom music’)  and 1-2-3 (Waltz) and that’s about it. So it’s only normal if you throw in the towel after one flamenco lesson. You just try;

1-TWO-1-2-THREE-4-5-6-SEVEN-EIGHT-9-TEN

Buena suerte (good luck) to you. It took me a week to be even able to clap this. And that involved clapping during dog walks and commutes to Malaga and walking in alleys (in Andalusia you don’t care, hardly anyone would find that too strange).
But, but, but, but I’m so happy I can do it now.  As with a different language, something else seems to have opened in me. An eye-opener but then for the body.

And so it is that I might know quite a few foreigners who started dance classes from salsa to cha-cha, but none are as passionate and driven as those who follow flamenco.

This 5 minute video gives you all the time to learn it yourself: The Compass of Buleria. 

Flamenco today

flamenco-performanceIn the 21st century flamenco has been much more boxed in, the music and the performances have been much more studied.

Often losing it’s original freewheeling quality, the going with the flow of the emotion of NOW, the telling of something that happened today.

When a billboard tells you ‘Flamenco concert at 10PM‘, well, that in itself tells you it’s a modern, perhaps even ‘touristy’ performance. There’s nothing spontaneous or little emotional about it.

That being said: the traditional flamenco is still there: if you happen to see it grow or be part of it, jump to the occasion! Man walking into a bar with a guitar… wait! You just don’t know what thing of beauty will develop.

Ben

PS:
If you want to know more about flamenco: go to the local ‘Peña Flamenco‘ – to be pronounced as ‘Penja Flamenco’. This is the bar and Cheers of the local flamenco association. Or search for the flamenco school in the most nearby city.

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