Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


January 23, 2015

Flamenco in Spain

Each Friday my little sister Lisa takes over the blog and today is no exception with her lovely post on Flamenco in Spain – so without further ado…

My eyes were transfixed to her heels pounding the board, I couldn’t break my gaze, I could hear nothing but the pounding of her heels in my ears and feel it reverberating through my body. This was my first experience of flamenco and I knew in that moment it would not be my last…

I had come to the Museo del Baile Flamenco in the stunning city of Seville, the city I had come to associate with flamenco, for my first ever Flamenco show. I had been awaiting this moment for years and had showed up inappropriately early to make sure I had the best seat I possibly could. Luckily I got myself a front row seat, took out my book and waited. Once the show started I saw no one else but the performers on stage, I held my breath as the female dancers, Monica Hidalgo, dress spun mere centimetres from my face as she twirled causing my hair to swish from my face and smiled as drops of water landed on my arms from the male dancers, Sergio Gonzalez, long hair as he spun. Add to that the emotional musical created by Jesus Flores and Juanma Torres. As they took their final turns I could feel my eyes well up – coming from that happiness I find watching people do something they love, something they are truly great at.


I made my mind up after that performance that I would spend my funds not on museums or galleries that I was recommended to visit and had little interest in, but instead I would spend it seeing the thing I truly wanted to see in Andalusia – Flamenco. No matter the cost.


The next day I bought tickets for two evening performances. One located on Calle Cuna and the other a short walk away on Ximenez de Enciso, or so it seemed walking the path between the locations earlier in the day. I would have 15 minutes between the shows to try my best for my beloved front row seat. First up was Casa de la Memoria, I was no less transfixed watching Marina Valiente and Oscar de los Reyes than the night before and I loved the variation from the previous show with a female singer, Ana Real, and guitar performed by Raul Cantizano. Then I started running through the maze of streets and alleys in Seville, thankfully a kind gentleman stopped me and decided to make sure I didn’t get lost and dropped me at La Casa del Flamenco. I had a side view but it was still delightful watching Luisa Palizio and Francisco Mesa take to the floor. Though I couldn’t get over the fact that the singer, Cheito, looked so much like someone I knew from back in NZ.


If in Seville I would definitely recommend the performance at the Museo del Baile Flamenco, though to be perfectly honest you wouldn’t go wrong with any of the above shows, with these shows there is no dinner being served to distract from the brilliant performance.

In the famous city of Granada I checked out the performance at Casa Del Arte Flamenco. Baile (dancing) was performed by Adrian Sanchez and Lucia Guarnido, cante (singing) by Sergio Colorao and toque (guitar) by Rafael Habichuela. The dance and music flowed with ease, a true performer can make flamenco look so very easy (I would later learn for myself just how wildly talented they are). I would recommend after rambling through the Alhambra to come and see a performance for yourself.


Next I tried the performance at Le Chien Andalou . This was my least favourite Flamenco performance in Andalusia and I did actually walk out before it was over. A lack of space, and the fact being at the back made it near impossible to see, even though I turned up 5 minutes before seating began people had already filled up the small space. Then add to that the fact after three songs the dancer had still not made a single move despite being on stage. I left disheartened by this performance. But Granada made my heart sing the next day when walking through the square by my hotel I found two separate groups doing flamenco street performances which I enjoyed watching on the warm spring afternoon.


Then there was the charming city of Cordoba. At the Casa de Sefarad (during the day a fantastic Jewish museum) I had my final performance in the south. The performance has you seated around the sides of a courtyard with the performance at one end. This was perhaps the most different of the performances I saw, this time the singer interacted with the flamenco dancer. It was almost like a kind of love affair with him serenading her and her playing with his heart. It was a perfect end to my Andalusian flamenco love affair.


I tried really hard, along with some help from NZ, to get a flamenco lesson at the Museo del Baile Flamenco to no avail but booked myself in with MYF (my favourite things) in Barcelona for a two hour private flamenco lesson with a tutor by the name of Elena. A dance studio was organised for us on a sunny day in Barceloneta and so began my own first steps in Sevillana. Elena had the patience of a saint, with my lack of coordination, and by the end we had Sevillana 1 down. Even today I can still do the steps, and I spent the following weeks practicing wherever I could, waiting for Kelly at Schipol Airport, in queues, at empty village bus stops at midnight (long story), I would highly recommend trying flamenco for yourself.


I have always admired and respected flamenco dancers but not until dancing for myself did I realise just how intricate and difficult the steps can be, add to that castanets, a shawl etc. They have my undying respect…this girl LOVES flamenco, please, please, please check it out in Andalusia! and how about a lesson for yourself.

P.S. There is a brilliant Flamenco festival in one of my favourite cities of Jerez de la Frontera (just down the road from Seville) called Festival De Jerez which I recommend checking out (I missed it by one day and am eternally gutted) with shows from renowned artists and classes for novices and the more advanced.


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