One perfect day in Andalucia

10 Oct

Autumn arrived on a brisk breeze Saturday October 8 and what a day it turned out to be!

I joined Aussie flamenco friend, Roshanne, on her guided tour of the Roman ruins at Italica in the small town of Saltiponce, 20 minutes north west of Seville. Our guide was her friend, Seville flamenco guitarist, Oscar Guzman, who has a passion for the place that draws him back time after time.

Two of the Roman empire’s emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, were born in Italica, a rare thing which ensured the region was well funded. Careful excavation of the amphitheatre, the thermal baths and some villas revealed masterful architecture and gorgeous mosaics. Wandering the corridors of the amphitheatre and avenues and marveling at the marble pillars, aqueducts and bread ovens we tried to imagine the lives the inhabitants led 2,000 years ago compared to our present day existence. Who would be better off?

Certainly the present day restaurant opposite Italica is a fine one and we worked our way though a good portion of their menu with the help of another of Roshanne’s lovely friends.

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From ancient Rome we switched back to modern Seville, first with a one off Flamenco Puro show at Museo Del Baile Flamenco by Jerez-born dancers and partners Pilar Ogalla and Andres Pena, with El Trini singing, guitar by Miguel Perez and palmas by Kuky and Juan Aguirre, and then to the Tablao El Palacio Andaluz where a friend, the divine La Chica, was dancing.

There is an English saying, ‘Those who can’t do teach’. I have not to date found that to be at all true with flamenco. I take daily classes with Andres and observe him teaching the higher levels. He is a gifted teacher who is also a superlative performer. His Solea had the longest, most emotional build up we had ever witnessed before he exploded into some crazy, brilliant footwork.

The extra element his dance partnership with his wife brings is a deep synchronicity. Their connection is palpable. Pilar is an intense, strong dancer and I enjoyed her solo Alegria immensely.

All the performers were on peak form. They finished with unique, stylish Bulerias in the fin de fiesta. They well deserved their extended standing ovation.

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After a quick tapas y vino at Duplex to process the magic we had just witnessed it was a change of venue and pace at El Palacio Andaluz to see La Chica dance.

The four privately owned Seville tablaos provide steady employment to flamenco professionals and at a time when major artists are struggling to mount shows they remain a vitally important element of Seville’s flamenco industry.

As ever, La Chica (Francesca Grima), commanded the room. She really worked the bigger stage for her Solea Por Buleria and the audience loved her. She is a break through artist to watch, one of the very few non-Spanish flamenco dancers to work at the tablaos.

The perfect day closed with after show beers and much laughter. Eternal gratitude to Rosh, Oscar and the brilliant, hard working performers who gave their hearts and souls to us on that night of nights.

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One Response to “One perfect day in Andalucia”

  1. Simone Pope October 16, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Great blog I’m sooo jealouse thanks Sharon! pS well done for getting the names of ALL the performers in the shows you see. so often the focus is on the dancers and we don’t here who the cantaors, guitarists and palmeros are.. Sim xx

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