¡LLamada! Homage to Carmen Amaya
As all flamenco@s know, la llamada is a surprise call by the dancer to the musicians, a signal that the pace and rhythm are about to change. Lately, I’ve had my share of personal llamadas, not least of which has included the move to living in Barcelona — a very different rhythm from life in London. This change has accounted for my silence on this blog, for which many apologies (reality deflects from virtuality…).
The good news, though, is that one reason for not writing about flamenco has been, in fact, that I have been living flamenco quite intensely here. Barcelona may not be the most obviously flamenco of cities, but there are some real gems to be found here, not least of which is my school, La Escuela de La Tani. Like La Tani and her family, there are well established gitano communities here for whom flamenco is a way of life. As a result, it is easy to connect with a strong tradition of taking flamenco seriously. What is also curious is the fact that some say that a link exists between the style of music and dance from Granada’s Sacromonte and Catalan flamenco, due to the fact that back in the 1960s, gitanos went up along the eastern coast of Spain to relatively prosperous Catalonia. Of course, the unforgettable Carmen Amaya came from here, left from here and went into exile and then returned to this city, for the filming of Los Tarantos, shortly before her passing in 1963.
So this first Barcelona post is in her memory, a homage to flamenco Catalunya, to the lady who brought so many llamadas to flamenco, breaking open gender barriers in dance, firing the soul, twisting the turn like none before. ¡Viva la Carmen!