Archive for August, 2015

Flamenco is absolutely essential for me…

A reader, Valeska Lozada, who is a flamenco dancer from Venezuela, has requested me to disseminate her call for financial help to make it possible for her to travel to Madrid to study flamenco. From the video, it would seem she is already very skilled and, clearly, talented.

This request made me think about the financial aspect of a flamenco life… This is especially pertinent to those of us who were not born to flamenco, but fell in love with it, in some remote part of the globe, along the way. How many pounds and euros have I spent over the past thirty years on classes, shoes, shawls, fans, hair clips, fake flowers, earrings, skirts, books, CDs, DVDs, concerts, gigs…? How many people travel to Spain yearly from places as far away as Japan, Australia and, it would seem, Venezuela, to find ‘the real thing’ in Spain? Is ‘real’ flamenco only in Spain? Is access to flamenco a privilege of class and wealth? If so, is it not ironic that an art form that emerged from the dirt poor underbelly of southern Spanish cities should turn into a commodity of privilege? What does that mean for the art form itself?

They say that flamenco is universal… Then what does it mean for flamenco lovers from across the globe, if access to this art is subject to currency fluctuations, devaluations and exchange control mechanisms?

 

August 5, 2015 Posted Under: General   Read More

Olé Catalunya!

In the months since I last posted here (far too many…), I’ve spent many more hours practising flamenco than writing on it. Classes at La Escuela de La Tani continue to be as dynamic as ever and I’ve upped the ante a bit by venturing into the back row of Yolanda Cortés’s class. It’s a workout for the brain and the body, that leaves one high on endorphins and absolutely convinced that Barcelona must surely be one of the true capitals of flamenco. Well, come to think of it, the most famous dancer of all time, Carmen Amaya was born just a walk away, on the former Somorrostro beach now turned into Barceloneta. Like her, the Cortés family are from Barcelona but have origins in Andalucía. They are not alone. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the relative prosperity of Catalunya and its industrial might drew many immigrant Spaniards from poorer parts of Spain, especially Andalucía. The rumba catalana has evolved as the hybrid expression of this mix, drawing a line northwards from western Andalucía all the way to Catalonia and then on to the south of France , where the Gypsy Kings did us the favour many years ago of rendering flamenco sounds international.

With the onset of summer, open air concerts late at night have become common in Barcelona. Some of these have been devoted to the rumba catalana — almost always performed by gypsy groups that claim blood ties or musical ties to the famous Peret, who won fame for flamenco, Catalunya and Spain with his Eurovision winner Canta y Sé Feliz back in 1974… So here, with the hallmark flares and sideburns of those times, is the grand old master of the rumba catalana Peret, singing one of many hit songs, Borriquito como tú:

 

 

August 1, 2015 Posted Under: General   Read More