I recently watched some live Flamenco while away in Sevilla. That region is considered the home of Flamenco and as such there are a lot of live shows. The show we attended was in the Flamenco Museum, which we’d visited the day before. It’s a really interesting place, charting the development of Flamenco from impromtu dances at gitano (gypsy) gatherings.
There are three forms of Flamenco; guitar, singing and dancing. I hadn’t really thought of it before, but I suppose I kinda knew, and then there are different styles of Flamenco. Some are more laid back than others, but I prefer the more intense styles. I can’t remember the names but a common theme is passione, the performance has to have passion.
During the live show there was no shortage of passion. The guitarist started with a solo, and to my uninitiated eyes, his gurning and eye-scrunching looked almost silly, as if he was putting it on. But there was no doubting the skill, fingers of both hands were working hard. Then the singer came on and particularly for such a young bloke, probably early 20’s, the sorrow and pain in his face as he sang was extraordinary. But this was only the warm up, my friend Ceri said they start like this because the peripheral figures can be forgotten.
The female dancer arrived and the intensity was almost tangible. The position she assumed coupled with look on her face and in her eyes. Stunning, intimidating even! I honestly said to myself “hey don’t look at me love”. Then she danced, and didn’t she dance. Proud and intense, she clapped, clicked and stamped her way through a manic dance.
The show continued and the male dancer joined in, there were a couple of dual dances, but the woman was the best. She did another dance with a long skirt that was thrown about and changed back again for the finale. It was interesting to see that they were improvising. I was unable to understand the lyrics but the voice was like an instrument, the clapping of the singer, the stamping and slaps on the body were all syncopations on the beat. It was as if they were jamming, like musicians do but with a manic intensity, although it was kept in check sufficiently to allow fast precise movement.
It reminded me a bit of Steve Morris, the look when he turns it on. I’ve seen it in others too, there is an intensity underneath, which charge, without ruining, the required movements and actions. If this is missing (the emotional content as Bruce Lee called it) there is just a movement without any real intention. A bit like dancing, I always thought, but not like Flamenco!