Thursday, May 9, 2013

Flamenco, Ole!

In full swing

Attending a flamenco performance was on the top of my list of things to do while in Madrid.  I had always heard about this colorful art form that includes singing, dancing, and guitar playing and wanted to experience it first hand.  The colorful costumes and lively dances are the hallmark of this performance art that originated in the south of Spain.  Dating back to the 18th Century and traditionally associated with the poor and the oppressed, today flameno is celebrated throughout Spain and across the globe.  Like so many traditional dances, flamenco is a form of folk art that speaks to the very heart of Spanish culture.  Firey, lively, and colorful are the words I would use to characterize so much of Spanish culture and as such, flameco embodies all of these traits.  Flamenco is such an important part of Spanish heritage that in 2010 UNESCO declared it to be one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Guitar players than opened and
closed the night's performance
On the recommendation of the concierge at our hotel, we made reservations for dinner and a flamenco performance at Corral de la Moreria and El Tablao Flamenco, which since 1956 has been entertaining flamenco seeking visitors in Madrid.  As the audience was sandwiched into a dining room filled with too many tables I was hopeful that what we were about to see would be as good as promised.  With the exception of two older Spanish gentlemen sitting at the table next to us, the audience seemed to be comprised of tourists (including the Americans behind us who loudly proclaimed that they didn't drink alcohol and wanted to be served a virgin pina colada in lieu of the Spanish wine that was offered).  The traditional food was decent but not overly exciting (although I think I may have just made a poor dinner choice) but I didn't have high expectations for the food.  For me, dinner was an after thought since what I really wanted to experience was the performance and that did not disappoint as the instrumental music, songs and dance coming from the small stage were truly impressive.  I wish I understood Spanish since I would have loved to have known the words to the beautiful songs that accompanied the guitars, castanets, and dancers.  The deep baritone voices filled the small room and set the tone for the expressive and sensuous dancing that followed.  In Spanish,  flama means fire and the feet of the dancers, both male and female, were certainly on fire as they danced away.  The night we attended Jesus Fernandez and Belen Lopez were the featured dancers and their movements were nothing short of impressive. Their steps were so rapid that from my perspective their legs and feet were mere blurs.  I found myself sitting and staring in amazement as they danced on every corner of the stage.  In the end I was left speechless.

This flamenco performance was my single favorite part of my Madrid weekend.  I was in awe of it all; the songs, dance, and costumes.  The performance was so good that I would have forgone the less than exciting food and still paid the same price. Yes, I liked it that much.

And more dancing

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