I am hugely guilty of neglecting this blog for a good while. A few people have asked me why I have not updated of late and, while I could come up with a litany of reasons, none of them actually convince even me. So apologies to my readers…
My biggest apology, though, goes to Chris Wilson, firefighter, martial expert and flamenco aficionado, who generously sent me a copy of his wonderful Flamenco Essentials, a delightful book that EVERY novice to flamenco should read and, ideally own. Despite over a quarter of a century of afición, I really enjoyed reading this book and love having a copy of it to refer to. Covering every aspect of the art, from its history to compás, basic steps, posture, hands, palmas, contra -tiempo, percussion, sourcing flamenco online and even – oh joy of joys! – a breakdown of the steps for sevillanas, Flamenco Essentials is both a practical guide and an ode to the art.
I particularly loved the focus on the different palos. Newcomers to flamenco often find themselves studying ‘fandangos’ or a ‘garrotín’ without ever really understanding how that palo fits into the larger scheme of flamenco rhythms. Flamenco Essentials provides a chart and helps readers map flamenco and understand the art bit by bit. And if ever you have been a bit lost by the vocabulary used by your flamenco teacher — a palo seco, escobilla, jaleo, punta tacón, to mention a few recurrent terms — then please consult the incredibly useful glossary.
For flamenco followers in the UK, this book brings a special pleasure: its many images and photos are of artists, performers and teachers from Spain and also from the very vibrant flamenco scene in the UK. As a result, many are very familiar faces of teachers, friends, ex-teachers, etc.
This book is a gem, the must-have birthday or Christmas present to your flamenco loved ones. I plan to follow it up by reading Chris Wilson’s next book on flamenco, Collecting Stamps, Flamenco in Madrid, a book that he tells us has nothing to do with philately! Both can be ordered from the website of Chris Wilson’s press, UK Flamenco: http://www.ukflamenco.co.uk/books.html