16th of November – International Day of Flamenco

Today, Andalusia remembers and celebrates Flamenco.

I would like commemorate this day with my favourite photo of me ever dancing flamenco. Not in a beautiful dress or a long skirt, with a flower in my hair, or a fan in my hand on a flamenco show… but on a casual Sunday morning, after breakfast, A. and I enjoying the sunshine on the rooftop of our Notting Hill flat, with me practising my steps.

Happy Flamenco Day to everyone!

Viva el flamenco!

Podcasts

blog foto Podcasts

I’m not a person of technology. I’m just hoping to keep up with the changes and innovations to understand what’s happening around me. Therefore I will be eternally grateful to my friend N. – one of the two biggest music fans I have ever met in my life, the other one being my sister-in-law, C. – who showed me years and years back: podcasts. I used to listen to my favourite radio programs live or stream previous episodes via the website of the radio that sometimes worked, sometimes they didn’t.

So podcasts were a revolutionary discovery! They can easily be accessed if you have the podcast app downloaded to your phone (on Apple for sure, but must be similar, if not the same for Android…). Without trying to give technological advice on how to download the app etc., let’s move on to the content!

There are 3 podcasts I regularly listen to:

1. Duendeando: every Saturday and Sunday at 5pm (UK time) on RNE3 (Spanish national radio, channel 3) with Teo Sanchez. The program of flamingos and pelicans (‘flamencos y pelicanos’). A witty game with the words representing an always reliable program to broadcast quality music, interesting guest artists and entertaining conversations. It gives an update on the new albums, upcoming festivals and events from the flamenco world. Best to enjoy with a coffee and cake after an afternoon nap… (I don’t mention the cigarette with the coffee because smoking is not trendy these days, but it does belong to the perfect experience……..).

2. Nuestro Flamenco: every Monday and Wednesday at 11pm (UK time) on RNE Clásico (Spanish national radio, classical music channel) with José María Velázquez-Gaztelu. I already mentioned this radio program in my post ‘Women in flamenco’. It is different from Duendeando in style due to the different personality of the host, and also different in structure. The first part of every program is dedicated to the guitar and guitarists, then they talk about news, new albums, festivals and the invited artists have interesting conversations with José María. A poet, writer and flamencologist, whose name is well known among flamencos, as he had a series about flamenco in the ’70s, called ‘Rito y geografía del cante y del baile’. I love that José María always uses the exact same phrases to start the programme and to present the guests. Exactly the same words! At first it may seem boring, odd or even funny, but I actually think it creates a feeling a safety and security (or is it just me – mother of 2 toddlers – who thinks repetition creates security?!?).

3. ConTraste Flamenco: every Sunday at 10.30pm (UK time) on RNE5 (Spanish national radio, channel 5) with Manuel Pedraz. This program is only 30 minutes long, and therefore information and conversations are more focused and “concentrated”. This is the newest podcast I listen to and I like it simply because it is done by someone different in a different format. And even though topics may be similar or sometimes even the same, the different editors/ directors/ presenters (all in one person!) end up having totally different conversations with the guests.

El flamenco en R5: I also have this podcast on my phone, but if I want to be honest, I have never listened to it. It used to be a micro-space of flamenco, each program 5 minutes long, but I believe it is not ongoing anymore; last one seemed to be broadcasted in May 2017.

I do not spend hours commuting to work, but I do spend some time on the tube, mostly reading and listening to my podcasts. There is plenty of information, lots of music and great conversations. The only thing needed is: Spanish!!!

Dance, dance, dance

Throughout my years of flamenco love, I have been searching for years for the perfect dancer, the true flamenco bailaor/a. But the end of this story is not that I found it. Only after long years I came to realise that it doesn’t exist. There is not one dancer who is perfect, or is the true flamenco. As our friend, J. says: “We are all different. Isn’t that wonderful?”

All the different dancers add a bit of themselves to the colour palette of flamenco and their uniqueness makes flamenco so colourful and diverse. Variety is beauty. Not only in flamenco, in everything. And there shouldn’t be one idealised dancer because reality is that WE ARE ALL different, therefore the dance of each individual should also be different.

Matilde Coral is different from Manuela Carrasco, even though both are from Seville, but representing different schools, different styles. Eva Yerbabuena and Farruquito are two different worlds, just like María Pagés and Gema Moneo. Sara Baras is nothing like Pastora Galván. Marco Flores is nothing like Manuel Liñan. And thank the Lord for that! How boring would it be if they all danced the same?!

There are dancers who bring flamenco even further, testing the established limits. Have you heard about Israel Galván? Or Rocio Molina? When you see them for the first time, you’ll ask: “What is this? This is not flamenco.” It is certainly not traditional flamenco, but they are using flamenco for creating something new, going beyond the boundaries of traditional flamenco. Don’t expect flamenco when you go see them, and you won’t be disappointed. You can just enjoy art, dance, music. Opinions of course vary. Some say what Israel Galván does, is not flamenco, he is simply crazy. Others adore him and his inventions. These new creations tend to succeed first outside of Spain and then in Spain. The reason behind is the group of people, called purists, who defend the traditions and the purity of old flamenco by basically rejecting everything new. I don’t think they can be blamed too much, because this must also be done by someone. It can be disputed how strict they should be but this is such a complex topic that deserves a post.

A. says Israel Galván is a genius. He knows his tradition so well that it allows him to make fun of it by taking flamenco beyond itself and create something new, something unbelievable!

The last show of Isabel Bayón, choreographed by Israel Galván, ‘Dju-dju‘ was utterly brilliant (I wanted to use this expression since I first heard it during the 2012 London Olympics…). The greatest theatre play I have recently seen. Knowing Israel was behind the show, we have absolutely loved it!

Similar to ‘Reversible‘ of Manuel Liñan. I wanted to see the show because I have never seen a man dance with ‘bata de cola’, the long tail of a special flamenco dress. I not only saw a man dance with bata de cola but saw the most exciting flamenco show in years! Fresh, new, thoughtful but at the same time traditional! Fascinating.

I love the dance of Adela Campallo, La Lupi and Pastora Galván. I find them very feminine and love how they represent traditional flamenco.

I have always liked Mercedes Ruiz and her shows which are never one big show (like the shows of Sara Baras, Carmen or La Pepa), but lots of different, individual dances under the same theme.

I am now discovering more male dancers: Manuel Liñan, José Maldonado, El Choro, Antonio El Pipa… they simply rock!

And my all time favourite is Lucía Ruibal. She encompasses every feature of a true flamenco: she has the tradition deep within, the technique with excellent footwork and beautiful hands/arms, and her love of flamenco and passion for dance, make her outstand among all the new talents.

I recently heard an interview with El Carrete de Malaga, an almost 80year old gentleman who has been a flamenco dancer all his life. He was asked what dancers he liked and he answered : Antonio, el Bailarín, Antonio Farruco and Fred Astaire, because he also danced a type of bulería! There you go. Who said that flamenco can only be danced by flamencos?