Initiation

Most flamencophiles will recall the time when they first encountered flamenco. For me, this happened when I was a few months short of turning ten. Until then, the only dance forms I had known were ballet and classical Indian dancing, both of which I had seen in the guise of dance narratives, such as Swan Lake or scenes from the Mahabharata. Neither had touched me, indeed I had barely followed them, and I had no awareness at all that flamenco was around the corner.

My initiation to flamenco ocurred unexpectedly and only because I had gone to Madrid on a brief holiday with my parents. Their tourist itinerary included a night at a tablao to see flamenco, explained to us as ‘gypsy dancing.’ We were also informed that these shows took place very late at night, as was the Spanish way. Torn between leaving me alone in a hotel room that night (hotels in Spain back in the 1970s did not offer babysitting services and I certainly would have baulked by then at the idea of being babysat), renouncing the night out or else take me along with them, my parents chose the latter. My mother wisely took the book I was reading on that trip, Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers in her handbag lest I should get bored. In the event, I did not need it.

A lifetime of flamencophilia no doubt proves the impact that night had on me. Little did I know it then, but we were in fact at the Corral de la Morería, one of Madrid’s best tablaos, at a time when flamenco talent had travelled north  from the patios of Andalucía and was firmly establishing itself in the capital. It was therefore only many decades later that I realized that the guitarist that evening was none other than the unforgettable Félix de Utrera and the star performer Lucero Tena, diva of the castanets.

December 26, 2009 Post Under General - Read More

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