Andalusia Flamenco

Is it a Hungarian tradition? A Catholic tradition? Or perhaps a Hungarian Catholic tradition? I am not entirely sure about the origin, but we most certainly go to the cemetery frequently, and bring flowers to our lost beloved ones. I grew up with this tradition and I find it a nice way of remembering our people. I also find comfort and piece in the process itself: going to the cemetery, buying flowers, refilling the vase with water, taking a walk under the big trees providing shadow on a sunny summer afternoon, while thinking of the person, whose tomb I am visiting. My memories are mostly from the cemetery in my hometown Szombathely, but in the past few years, I combined this tradition with my flamenco interest, and whenever we are in Spain visiting my in-laws, we take trips visiting Andalusian towns and it’s cemeteries. We walk around the town, looking for memories of the artists, have a coffee at the main square and visit the cemetery. I like getting to know the atmosphere of these little towns and villages, imagine the flamencos sitting at the same square, walking the same streets. It’s not only sightseeing but paying a visit/tribute to the flamenco artists, either alive or already passed away.

This is how I first went to San Fernando in Cádiz, to see the resting place of José Monje Cruz, or better known around the world as Camarón de la Isla (San Fernando is also known as ‘La Isla’, The Island). Camarón’s tomb is a piece of art. There is a massive statue above the grave, remembering Camarón at its best, singing. It felt special being there, in a small cemetery of a small town, somewhere in south Spain, and stand beside the memory of a flamenco legend, known all over the world for his voice and his revolution in flamenco. Cliché but true: music knows no borders. Felipe Benítez Reyes, the poet and this year’s ‘pregón’ of the Bienal of Flamenco, put this much nicer in his opening speech of the Bienal: “music makes us universal by allowing us to fly through space and time”.

Besides the cemetery, we also visited the Venta de Vargas, which is the restaurant outside San Fernando, where Camarón started singing as a boy. The place has not only kept its original function as a restaurant, but also serves as a museum of Camarón; full of his memories, fotos, cards and flamenco in the air. I recently heard that the Venta also participates in a festival organised in San Fernando, called ‘La Isla, Ciudad Flamenca’ (“The Island, City of Flamenco”). The festival celebrated its fifth edition this year, starting at the end of July with flamenco concerts throughout the whole month of August; the Venta de Vargas being one of the locations.

Throughout the years, we have visited many places in Andalusia: Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Chipiona, Utrera, Lebrija, Algeciras, Granada. Nothing compares to a coffee on the streets of Utrera, a vermut in la Plazuela in Jerez, or a ‘pescaito frito’ (fried fish) in Cádiz.

Next stop: Morón de la Frontera!

The finishing thought is a quote from the singer, David Lagos. I came across this quote on the photo blog of Rubén Camacho, whose day job is lighting technician in theatres and festivals, and he has a photo blog. The post on David starts with this thought that connects here brilliantly:

“In singing, the cemetery is a must visit, but never a place to live.”

La Bienal de Flamenco 2018

LaBienal3

The summer of 2018 will always be remembered in the UK for its exceptional weather: temperature above 30 degrees for long weeks without rain, wind or any disturbing factor. They called it “extended heatwave”. I call it my best summer in London. We have spent every single day outside, in parks, gardens, on the English seaside, bathing in the sea(!), having a brilliant time. There was clearly no time for blog writing. Now, with autumn around the corner, I am back. The days are shorter, more time is spent inside again, in front of screens. So what better topic to come back with, than the Bienal of Flamenco! Although summer is over, there is nothing to be sad about, the Bienal is just starting!

As it’s name suggests, the Bienal is a flamenco festival organised bi-annually, in Seville. It started in 1979 and with time, it has grown into one of the biggest (if not the biggest) flamenco festivals in Spain, celebrating its XX. edition this year. It provides an excellent opportunity for singers, dancers and guitarists, be world famous or only at the start of their career, to present their latest creations in the different theatres of Seville throughout the month of September. Artists representing the pure, more traditional flamenco perform side by side with the artists representing a more innovative, new flamenco.

In recent years, the festival started to invite artists to prepare a choreography for a flashmob, which opens the Bienal. This is distributed well in advance, so everyone can learn the steps and dance along the people in Seville. This year’s choreography is from dancer Jose Galán, and it draws our attention to the importance of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. The flashmob will actually be performed by the statue of tolerance.

Throughout September, the theatres of Seville fill up with flamenco ‘aficionados’, fans of flamenco from all over the world, and the air is filled with ‘compás‘, the rhythm of flamenco. If you ever have the chance to go, do not hesitate for a moment. Go and enjoy the gathering of flamencos, the late night concerts and the special atmosphere of the Bienal!

The festival finishes with the distribution of the ‘Giraldillo’. This is the award of the festival given in various categories (singing, dancing, guitar, best show, best moment, best choreography, innovation etc.) and it is regarded as a prestigious reward within the flamenco world.

The website has the full programme and updates are posted on all social media (worth to check out, especially if one cannot be there…):

Instagram

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

If I had the time and money, I would probably go to every single show and spend the entire month in Seville : going from show to show, enjoying the late nights and the farewell to summer amid the smell of the orange trees in the Alameda. But until the time arrives of me having time and money, here is my “shortlist” for the 2018 Flamenco Bienal of Seville:

7 Sept – Israel Galván: Arena

9 Sept – Inés Bacán & Niño de Gines: Cien años de arte

9 Sept – Patrícia Guerrero: Distopía

10 Sept – Argentina: Hábitat

11 Sept – José Valencia: Bashavel

12 Sept – Lebrija, Luna Nueva. Al arte de su vuelo. XX. edición

13 Sept – Flamencos de la tacita. Al arte de su vuelo. XX. edición

14 Sept – Alfredo Lagos: Sonanta Club

14 Sept – El Granaíno: Granaíno Jondo

16 Sept – María Terremoto: La huella de mi sentío

17 Sept – Compañía Mercedes Ruiz: Tauromagia

18 Sept – Tomasito & Gipsy rappers

18-19 Sept – Rocio Molina& Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Grito pelao

19 Sept – Compañía de Israel Galván con Pastora Galván: La edad de oro

19 Sept – Tomás de Perrate: Soleá sola

20 Sept – Rafael Rodríguez: Dejándome llevar

20 Sept – La savia del tronco “Utrera”

20 Sept – Bolita Big Band: Caótico

21 Sept – David Carmona: Un sueño de locura

21 Sept – Compañía María Pagés: Una oda al tiempo

22 Sept – Santiago Lara: Una guitarra de dos caras

22 Sept – Tomatito: Viviré

23 Sept – Antonio Rey & Diego del Morao: Guitarras de Jerez

23 Sept – Leonor Leal: Nocturno

25 Sept – María Moreno: De la concepción

26 Sept – David Lagos: Hodierno

27 Sept – Tía Juana La del Pipa, Remedios Amaya, Juana Amaya: Gitanas. Al arte de su vuelo. XX. edición

27 Sept – La Moneta: Granada solo tiene salida por las estrellas

28 Sept – Ana Morales: Sin permiso

28 Sept – Rosalía: Rosalía

29 Sept – Compañía Eva Yerbabuena: Cuentos de azúcar

29 Sept – Isabel Bayón: Yo soy

30 Sept – Nano de Jerez & Anabel Valencia: Cien años de arte

30 Sept – Dorantes: La roda del viento (with the one and only Javi Ruibal!)