Guest Author - Rachel L Webb
You’re sitting in a hazy smoke filled Flamenco café, hands begin to clap rhythmically, feet begin to stamp. From the corner of the room a short stocky man saunters onto the stage, black hat obscuring most of the well-worn face. A cigarette dangles from his mouth, he crushes it underfoot perches on a stool. With head hung his fingers begin to caress his guitar. Slowly and hypnotically. The clapping stills, only his fingers sing out a mournful tune, slow, sad. Rising and falling like a wild moaning wind.
The clapping begins again slow, sure, steady. Without a break in his playing the guitarists shuffles his stool to the side, the tempo bursts as a woman twirls in. Head held high, long neck and longer fingers pointing to the sky, heels click and stop.
She’s frozen, waiting, in silence. Then the fingers stroke the strings, plucking out feelings. The dancer twirls, so slowly, every fold in the scarlet skirt unfolds and flies horizontally. Her form so graceful, her feet so light.
A song begins interwoven with the guitar, it sings and talks at one with the flow of the dancer. A tale of woe, of hardships never ending, sighs of pain. It’s beautiful and haunting. It’s life and death. A moment in time you never want to end, a heart gripping story, unintelligible – beyond words- but not beyond a deep inner calling that understands the pain.
The dancer is lost in time, dancing for her past, the past of generations of persecution fighting to be heard. Dancing for the moment, immersed in the now. Captivating her audience, telling the tale of her people.
Travellers without a country, dispersed through lands not their own. Rejected outcasts, struggling to survive. Their cante hondo (deep song) was their recreation, their outlet and their protest at the unfairness of life.
Many gitanos (gypsies) settled in Andalucia in the early 15th century, by the end of the 18th century many different types of cante hondo had been established mainly in the south-west of Andalucia, Cadiz, Jerez and Seville.
The title Flamenco covers a wide variety of music , song and dance, usually thought to be a performance of a singer, one or more dancers and the high-powered combined thrashing and caressing of a guitar.
From the most soulful siguiriyas and soleas to the livlier boleros and fandangos there is a lifetime of passion from the performers and a life-time of understanding for the audience.
Tablaos are tourist –orientated Flamenco shows and are worth seeing if you can’t find the real thing, though extravagantly flamboyant, you’ll not be unmoved.
Flamenco competitions take place every third year in Cordoba. The most important Internatioinal Flamenco festival has been going since 1956. The year 2007 will be the 18th competition, the prelimenary rounds take place between 23& 27th April, and are open to public viewing, usually free. The finals of the competition are not normally for public viewing and end on 12th May.
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